J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Boston Preservation Awards

The Boston Preservation Alliance has given two of its Preservation Achievement Awards for this year to local landmarks that reach back into the lifetime of the Revolutionary generation.

One goes to the Old South Meeting House for how it restored its tower clock (works shown here).

Created in 1766 and installed in 1770, the Tower Clock became a prominent icon of the Boston cityscape and is believed to be the oldest tower clock in New England still in operation in its original location.

The year-long restoration process started in 2009 and brought together many expert preservationists. The North clock face was carefully restored and the South clock face (too damaged to restore) was replicated in solid mahogany. With paint analysis, a more accurate understanding of the earlier clock appearance was gained. The faces of the clock now appear in their earliest known vibrant black color, made with a traditional smalting process. Along with the exterior, the clockworks were carefully disassembled, cleaned, and replaced when necessary.
Another award went to the Park Street Church, which was built in 1809. (During the Revolution, that corner was the site of the town granary, and nearby were the institutions for the poor: the bridewell, almshouse, and workhouse. The award citation says:
the recent renovations strove to make the church more accessible to parishioners and visitors, as well as improve deteriorated exterior conditions. An open space Welcome Center was created to connect the historic Tremont Street and contemporary Park Street entrances.

Other accessibility-related improvements included the rebuilding of a central elevator and an upgrade of the public entrance on Park Street. Exterior work consisted of masonry repairs to brick and brownstone facades, replacement of deteriorated roofing and gutters, and the removal of abandoned fire escapes.
Here is the full list of this year’s honorees. The Boston Preservation Alliance is celebrating this year’s awards in the Modern Theatre on 21 October at 5:30 P.M. Tickets for this fundraiser are $35 per person.

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