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West Roxbury's one brutalist building being torn down

Former People's Federal Savings Bank torn down

Photo by Elliott McNamee.

Developer Gary Martell had his crew tear down the former People's Federal Savings Bank on Centre and Park streets in West Roxbury this morning, in preparation for the 21-unit condo building he still needs BPDA approval to build.

The small, domed bunker-like structure sat next to the older Keith house, which Martell had torn down last month even as the Boston Landmarks Commission was still supposedly reviewing whether it was worthy of historic designation, given that it was built in 1839 and had ties to West Roxbury history.

City Councilor Kendra Lara (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain) has requested a council subpoena to city agencies to try to get answers on how Martell was allowed to tear that house down - ISD did issue a stop-work order, but only after the house had been reduced to a pile of wood and rubble.

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Brutalism is kinda fascinating and definitely a moment in the history of architecture, but these materials and design can be difficult to maintain and adapt to useful purposes. Especially since most of these buildings were assigned to bureaucracies that forget any specialized maintenance procedures.

Voting closed 22

Although I seem to be in a minority, I personally like Brutalist architecture, including City Hall. But you are correct, it gets such a filthy look that nobody ever seems to do anything about. Especially that building in Government Center that houses the Lindemann Center and the unemployment office.

I might also point out the long forgotten fact that when it was much newer in the late 60s and early 70s, City Hall Plaza had a clean look that was actually pretty inviting, and people would linger and eat their lunch there where the fountain used to be. There were plants and greenery there as well. I spent many a day there lingering and gathering with people. That was unthinkable in later years.

Voting closed 29

… was never completed. Paul Rudolph’s original design included a 23-story tower and landscaped plaza with the existing buildings forming a sort of amphitheater. The idea was to echo City Hall Plaza, but within a more private and enclosed place. Up until the 90’s the plan was to complete the project. The tower was even redesigned to include 10 more stories. Don’t know what happened, but the Edward Brooke Courthouse got built instead. It also seems the concrete used was inferior. Parts of the complex ‘s exterior are crumbling to the point that rebar is exposed

Voting closed 18

Even City Hall was never completed. The original KMK design extended the 4th floor courtyard to a deck over Congress Street creating a direct pedestrian path between the plaza and Faneuil Hall. That feature was cut because of budget, but it explains why City Hall has that unfriendly brick wall facing Congress.

Voting closed 22

I prefer Brutalist over 95% of new residential developments which look nearly identical and plain.

At least each Brutalist building was different and unique.

Voting closed 15

Each unhappy building is unhappy in its own way.

Voting closed 26

Future generations will not look back kindly on West Roxbury's failure to preserve our historic drive-through ATMs.

Voting closed 50

Not because it looked like a bomb shelter but because of the people inside. We were People's Federal customers and the people who worked there were just really nice people who would always make sure to offer the kidlet a lollipop, back in the days when I had to make frequent visits there because I was still getting paid largely through paper checks.

Voting closed 33

I totally forgot that banks used to give them to kids. I have treasured memories of going to the bank with my parents and getting a lollipop out of the experience. Perhaps the kidlet does, too.

Voting closed 10

Now Peoples isn't Peoples anymore...

Well the one on Devonshire in DTX is now a M&T Bank.

Oh wait thats People's United.. Not Peoples Federal.

My credit union bank still gives out lollipops to kids.

Voting closed 10

used to give out really cool looking piggy banks to kids that opened an account in the 1960s.


Voting closed 8

Everyone’s all “housing housing housing!” Who’s looking out for the people racing down Centre Street, running down pedestrians, running red lights and double parking at the next bank!

Voting closed 24

Maybe Councilor Lara can also check out all those building permits given out and then need multiple variances after the fact. There is one not far from the bank that needed five variances after construction began. Oh and I personally had to sue to get them to stop building next to my home, when the building permit was given even though the lot was deemed too small and was under a stop work order. ISD is a joke

Voting closed 19

I’d say that NIMBYs are a joke. People who think that their property rights include the right to tell their neighbors what they can and can’t build.

Voting closed 21

A developer building "as of right" when they need variances is another.

Conversely, someone in the neighborhood tried to add a floor of living space (still keeping it a single family dwelling) without pulling permits. After whatever time penalty they were hit with, they did it the right way. In a karmic twist, the vacant lot next to them has just had 2 units of housing put up, thus doing to them what they did to their neighbors.

Voting closed 14