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Residents try to keep Mass. General from tearing down three remnants of the West End; start by suing Boston Landmarks Commission

A group of ten citizens - six of whom live in the same West End building - last week sued the Boston Landmarks Commission as part of a bid to save three buildings left over from the destruction of the West End that Mass. General wants to raze so it can build a 14-story clinical center along Cambridge Street.

The residents, many of whom live a couple blocks away from the proposed new building, at 150 Staniford St., sued the city commission for refusing to consider their petition to grant landmark status to the former Winchell Elementary School and the West End House on Blossom Street and the West End Tenement House on North Anderson Street.

In their lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the ten citizens ask a judge order the commission to hear their request for landmark status for the three buildings, which are among the three that survived the BRA-led demolition of the West End in the 1950s and 1960s to make way for the "If You Lived Here" towers.

The Boston Preservation Alliance, while not a party to the suit, has expressed its concern about the potential loss of the buildings:

The West End neighborhood still suffers the effects of Urban Renewal and we feel that is important for MGH, both as good neighbors and stewards of some of the last remaining buildings from pre-Urban Renewal, to make every effort to preserve West End history, memory, and sense of place.

In its recently filed construction plans with the BPDA, the hospital said it would make up for the loss of the three buildings through several steps, including: Helping to fund construction and maintenance of a new West End Community Center, in hospital space at 75 Blossom St., with the possibility of moving out Mass. General departments as the community center grows; by providing funds to help run the West End museum; by funding some historic preservation and programs at Old West Church; by helping fund programs at the Museum of African American History and by making contributions to the Boston Preservation Alliance and the Boston Legacy Fund.

The hospital did not set dollar amounts on the grants and contributions, but noted they are subject to its building plan winning official approval.

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Comments

After much heartfelt consideration. Magoo. Is. Back. How can Magoo miss Magoo if Magoo doesn’t go away! Magoooooooooooo.

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Voting closed 35

However, I think you're forgetting to include Sudanese metaphysics in your otherwise insightful contribution here.

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You announced your departure from UHub yesterday. You haven’t been gone 5 min!

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Hell I rented for a 10 years, but it takes a lot of stones to be a renter in the Combat Zone and Fort Point to sue to stop an incredibly beneficial project for the region.

Two people live in affordable units that were set aside for former West End Residents or at least for their nanas but somehow they still get to live there even though the West End got pancaked during the Eisenhower administration. Nice. Can I have that deal?

This doesn't pass the smell test. There appears to more afoot here.

Suddenly, as much as I hate The Dead, Shakedown Street popped into my head.

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Voting closed 31

I feel like the damage has been done but as you said that was a long time ago and those communities are now gone. Wanting all three seems to be a bit much as they all look kind of a like and do not stand out like the Last Tenament does. There seems to be a reason why it was so hard for me to find pictures. When I google these buildings not much comes up and even finding them on the street was difficult using maps. If they are so beloved why are they not very well represented in the online world?

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Voting closed 12

One building is from 1884 and was an old school. The other is from 1929. 1929 was also about the date of the old Jae's Building on Stuart that went away two years ago. Nary a peep on that.

However, they are in a sea of parking. I didn't notice any hue and cry when the Exxon Station that is part of this site was flattened a few years ago.

I think this project goes a long way in helping people. Boston does a great job at preserving things. There is adaptive reuse in a lot of area. At the same time, I can't see saving a building that hasn't been a school since the 1950's at the expense of health care and a better chance of connecting the Blue and Red lines.

You can't go across Cambridge Street and change your window trim color without a Kafkaesque planning process, that's true. However, I hate to tell the West End people, but it's over. Your neighborhood has been gone just as long as it was around after 1900. It is not coming back and most residents have a right to return to affordable housing there that would make most Israelis blush.

I have nothing to do with MGH, save for they took care of my wife a few years ago.

MGH has been a part of the West End before the West End became the West End that people wax on about (We wus poor but we didn't know we wus poor sepia tones people). MGH is part of the community and will give a streetscape that that post war disaster known as the West End redevelopment.

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Considering the Prouty Garden got bulldozed despite having a hardcoded claim to stay, I can't imagine this project getting blocked. Maybe the plaintiffs are banking on a settlement in exchange for not slowing down the project by a few weeks.

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Not sure who lives at that address and how familiar they are regarding how things work around here but suing the BLC to stop hospital, university or life sciences companies from expanding based on a somewhat tenuous historical designation is not the correct strategy. One must first go apeshit over the influx of people which will obviously screw up "the parking," and if that doesn't work then one should try mentioning "the increased traffic" and its friend "the quality of life." If all else fails, then it's time to bring the hammer about how this new construction "doesn't fit in" with "the fabric of the neighborhood."

Of course, one could also be pragmatic and make peace with the fact that an alliance of renters, no matter how loosely organized, doesn't amount to squat when it comes to the business needs of the aforementioned industries.

Also, Red-Blue Connector sounds a lot sexier than West End Community Center.

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“ The hospital did not set dollar amounts on the grants and contributions, ...”

That figures.

Considering how god awful ugly the proposed building is, I’m glad these people are suing. Preserving and integrating the facades of the older buildings into the facade of the new one might be a good compromise. Along with worthwhile contributions.

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Wait, is Finagle A Bagel in the crossfires???

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that's been closed for months because of a kitchen fire?

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Oh, this is easy. The group of ten citizens should just buy the buildings.

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If there is historic value to these buildings, the city could buy them at the behest of the citizens of Boston who approved the Community Preservation Act in the 2016 election.

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Is really an uninteresting building and last I walked by it looked pretty abused. There are a few dozen buildings in Beacon Hill that look much the same.

It is a shame to demo the Winchell School, I've always liked the exterior. I concede they are building something much more useful and think you have to make choices. As to the proposal from the Boston Preservation Alliance on moving this and the building next to it - where are you going to move them to and at what cost?

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... there is a wonderful museum that has relocated buildings from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. With the constant rebuilding there, very few buildings of this sort still exist in place: https://www.tatemonoen.jp/english/
This features a bath house, post office, hardware store, photographer's studio, movie theater and many other buildings (including some historical houses of the era). If they can do this sort of thing in Japan, I presume we could do it here too.

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