Charlie Baker Wants to Sell a Section of the State House Lawn

The building abutting the lawn needs space for larger windows.

25 Beacon Street in 2015 / Image via Google Maps

25 Beacon Street in June 2015 / Image via Google Maps

The fenced-in green patch that is the State House lawn might be shrinking thanks to Charlie Baker.

Baker is requesting to offer a permanent easement to developers of a condominium adjacent to the lawn. If approved, the developers of 25 Beacon Street would have the right to cross over into State House property while enlarging the building.

A Boston Globe report details the proposed easement, in which developers say they plan to construct three au pair suites and living quarters for a superintendent in the basement of the building. They need to expand onto the State House lawn to enlarge the window wells in the basement. State building codes require windows to allow a minimum amount of natural light into a unit.

The State House lawn is, of course, quite historic—the Globe notes that the six-story mansion sits near the spot where John Hancock’s home once stood. But when the newspaper asked the person who oversees historic preservation in Massachusetts—Secretary of State William F. Galvin—about the lawn’s shrinking, he had no previous knowledge of the easement request. Galvin appears to think it’s a bad idea.

“You don’t give away a permanent easement, no matter how small, to public land that has such historic significance as John Hancock’s pasture land, to a private developer,’’ Galvin said to the Globe. “Why should we the public give up historic public land just to make more money for a developer?”

While Baker declined to comment, the governor’s director of communications called the construction project “tiny.” She said the window enlargement wouldn’t damage or change the appearance of the lawn, explaining the request has already been approved by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Galvin insisted the commission never saw or approved any easement.

Baker’s proposed easement was included in a supplementary budget submitted last week. Because it was filed in a supplementary budget, the request doesn’t need to go to a public hearing at the State House.

The size of the annex is not yet known, but the granted easement would also allow temporary scaffolding to be erected for exterior maintenance of the building.

You can read the complete report here.