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Most Endangered Listing Update: The Alvah Kittredge House, Boston

Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director of Historic Boston Incorporated, shares her story about HBI's

SAVED Most Endangered Listing.

Alvah Kittredge House, 1834, Roxbury, MA

Built for Roxbury alderman and Eliot Church deacon Alvah Kittredge (1798-1876), the Kittredge House is one of a handful of high style Greek Revival period wood frame houses remaining in Boston. Originally positioned in the center of a large rural estate, the Kittredge House was also once home to prominent 19th century Boston architect Nathaniel Bradlee.

In the 1970s and 80s, it was home to the African American advancement organization Roxbury Action Program (RAP). The house was vacant from 1991-2011. HBI purchased the property in 2011 and completed a $3.8 million rehabilitation in 2014. The renewed mansion now holds five two-bedroom residential units including two permanently designated affordable units.

What is the Status of your Most Endangered Listing?

Saved! In the Highland Park National Register District and, since spring 2016, a designated Boston Landmark. In the Landmarking process, we discovered that the Kittredge House is actually two years older than we have assumed - 1834 instead of 1836.

What is happening now?

The Kittredge House is now a completely restored building that contains 5 new apartments and is performing financially as planned which goes to show that preservation projects-even the places that are most distressed and forlorn - can be restored and re-used for contemporary needs.

What has happened or been accomplished since your listing?

Lots of partners and advocates have worked hard to restore the Kittredge House and make it a happy ending to 20 years of neglect. The Boston Redevelopment Authority took the property by eminent domain in 2009 and sold it to Historic Boston for preservation-based rehabilitation. HBI raised $1.4 million in charitable contributions and utilized State and Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits to re-position the building for five two-bedroom apartments, two of which are permanently Affordable. Contractor Metric Construction worked at a favorable rate to ensure cost-effective construction; the City of Boston supported the project with Affordable Housing subsidies; the neighborhood helped to secure a good path for the property through great advocacy; and the Boston Landmarks Commission supported the rehabilitation of the structure through good guidance, anticipating that the building would ultimately be designated a Boston Landmark.

Did you face a particularly difficult challenge and if so, how did you overcome it?

In retrospect, the Kittredge House's success can be attributed in large part to the persistent advocacy on the part of Historic Boston Inc. which has been working with former owners, the City and the Boston Redevelopment Authority for more than 30 years on efforts to find a sustainable way of re-using and preserving this rare architecture type in Boston. It took persistence, patience and creative solutions to each barrier along the way.

What's next for Alvah Kittredge House?

Nothing can top the effusion of joy the evening Mayor Walsh, HBI and more than 300 well-wishers came together to dedicate the new building. The Kittredge House is now the neighborhood's best example of possibility, and a great source of pride. The challenge now will be to maintain and manage this building in a way that it deserves and that will preserve it for posterity.

How did the Most Endangered Listing help your resource?

The Most Endangered List was an important expression of advocacy to local public leadership. It helped to keep the building on the Boston Redevelopment Authority's radar screen and to make consistently visible the building's dire condition and its importance to the Roxbury community.

What advice can you share with others that you feel is very important?

Do a real feasibility analysis that considers the best market uses and realistically projects what the dimensions of the financing problems will be for a problem property. That is where the work begins; you can start to fundraise or begin creatively thinking about solutions only when you know the order of magnitude of the project.

Would you like to share anything else about you, your community or your work? Do you have something unique and exciting going on?

We thought we'd topped the list of problem buildings but have discovered the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm (1786) in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood. We're now readying that for a $3.2 million rehabilitation that will transform this rare surviving farmstead into a training center for the Urban Farming Institute.

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