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Help Us Protect Charlestown’s History






Historic Preservation is a conversation with our past about our future. It provides us with opportunities to ask, “What is important in our history?” and “What parts of our past should we preserve for the future?”


As Boston’s oldest neighborhood, Charlestown’s history is rich, and historic preservation helps tell these stories. Sometimes historic preservation involves celebrating events, people, places, and ideas that we are proud of; other times it involves recognizing moments in our history that can be painful or uncomfortable to remember. Historic Preservation is always climate action, it is taking measures to safeguard the neighborhood’s rich history AND building a more sustainable future through conservation, reuse, and retrofitting. By embracing these principles, we honor the past and pave the way for a more sustainable and inclusive future for Charlestown.


Charlestown Preservation Society was formed in 1967  to protect the neighborhood’s rich history from the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Urban Renewal program that planned to decimate the neighborhood, demolishing nearly everything except for Monument Square and the Bunker Hill Housing Development. Our founders utilized the tools available to them at the time and saved the neighborhood that we love. Today we have more tools at our disposal than we did in 1967, and there is much work left to be done to protect the neighborhood for future generations.


As of this writing, only five buildings in Charlestown are local landmarks, and are, as a result, protected from demolition. Not from inaction, but from lack of political will, and chronic underfunding of the Boston Landmarks Commission.


In 1966, Congress made the federal government a leader in historic preservation through the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The federal government’s role is to “provide leadership” for preservation, “contribute to” and “give maximum encouragement” to preservation and “foster conditions under which our modern society and our prehistoric and historic resources can exist in productive harmony.” Through this legislation, systems and processes were created to identify buildings, sites and objects historically significant to the Nation, a State, and/or local communities. A petition to a “Certified Local Government” (CLG) or Boston Landmarks Commission in our case, enables a CLG to nominate a resource to the Secretary of the Interior for inclusion as a National Historic Landmark, a National Historic District or inclusion in the World Heritage List. Resources may be included on the National Register if they possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. In other words, the resource has to look and feel as it did during its period of significance.


Charlestown has a number of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including:

  • Navy Yard District including USS Constitution and Cassin Young Town Hill
  • Monument Square and Monument Grounds
  • The Bunker Hill Monument
  • Charlestown Heights – Doherty Park
  • Terminal Storage Warehouses
  • Middlesex Canal Archaeological Site
  • Bunker Hill School
  • Hoosac Stores
  • City Square Archaeological Site
  • Roughan Hall at City Square
  • Phipps St. Burial Ground


National listing is primarily an honor that recognizes the importance of the resource’s history. It allows owners of income-producing properties certain financial benefits like loans, grants, and tax incentives for rehabilitation. Listing provides a process for federal agencies to “take into account” the effects of their actions on historic properties with the ability to make comments on federal or state-funded projects through the Section 106 process. Listing does NOT limit in any way an owner’s handling of the property, they can modify, demolish or develop as they wish.

In 1975, the City of Boston established the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) “to protect the beauty of the city of Boston and improve the quality of its environment through identification, recognition, conservation, maintenance, and enhancement of areas, sites, structures ,and fixtures which constitute or reflect distinctive features of the political, economic, social, cultural or architectural history of the city.” By petition of 10 registered voters, the BLC designates individual buildings, objects and sites individually or as part of a district as a city of Boston Landmark, Architectural Conservation District or Landmark District. Buildings that are listed at the city level are reviewed by the BLC for proposed changes to portions of a building (or buildings within a district) visible from a public way. Many proposed changes are exempt from review like A/C units, storm doors and windows, temporary structures, and paint color. Review is based on guidelines set forth within a lengthy public process that determines the local bylaws passed by the neighborhood.


Charlestown has a number of buildings “landmarked” through the BLC:

  • Apollos Field House (30 Union St.)
  • Austin Block (92 Main St.)
  • Charlestown Savings Bank (1-2 Thompson Square)
  • City Square Archaeological Site
  • Edward Everett House (16 Harvard St.)
  • The Ropewalk


However, we have multiple districts that are “pending designation” which means that the BLC has accepted petitions for designation, pending completion of a study report.

  • Town Hill District, pending since 1985. A draft Study report has been completed.
  • Baldwin Street Architectural Conservation District. (101-117 Baldwin St., Pending since 1999.)
  • Monument Square Landmark District, pending since July 2022, draft study report complete June 2023. Study committee nominations were sent to the Mayor’s Office May, 2023.
  • Charlestown Industrial Architectural Conservation District. Pending since July 2023.


We need your help moving these districts forward. We hope to celebrate new Landmark Designations as part of the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 2024. The Battle marks the end of Colonial Charlestown and the development of the town under the new United States of America.

Will you please email and call our elected officials and their representatives with a message of support?

  • Mayor Wu,
  • Sean Breen, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services,
  • Gabriela Coletta, City Council District 1, 617-635-3200,
  • Elain Donovan, Charlestown Liaison, City Council District 1,
  • Murray Miller, Director of the Office of Historic Preservation, 617-635-1935,
  • Joe Cornish, Acting Executive Director, Boston Landmarks Commission
  • Jason Ruggiero, BPDA Liaison, Jason.Ruggiero@Boston.go


It is always best to use your own voice, but here is a suggested message to assist:

I am a resident of Boston’s oldest neighborhood, Charlestown. Charlestown’s history is storied, and it deserves to be honored with Landmark District Designations. Please enable the Boston Landmark Commission to continue their work in the following ways:

Approve the nomination for the District Study Committee for Monument Square nominated May 2023.
Prioritize the Town Hill District for a study committee in preparation for a vote by the Landmarks Commission.
Prioritize and Commission a draft study report for the Charlestown Industrial Architectural Conservation District.


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