Five Ways to Celebrate Preservation Month in Boston
Dozens of free architecture tours are happening throughout the month of May. This is not a drill.
May 1st marks the beginning of Historic Preservation Month: an architecture- and history-filled celebration established in 1973 by the National Historic Trust for Preservation. All month, cities across the country set out to raise awareness about the power of historic preservation, and this year, Boston boasts an impressive lineup of preservation-themed occasions.
Thanks to the Boston Landmarks Commission, there’s an event planned for every day this month. The BLC, which oversees more than 8,000 properties within the city’s nine historic districts, has organized walking tours of almost every neighborhood in the city, plus architecture cruises, lectures, coffee hours, and more. You can see the full calendar of events here.
From a talk on the history of Jordan Marsh to a tour of the Custom House Tower, Preservation Month presents opportunities for learning about historic buildings, neighborhoods, and architecture. Here are five highlights from the event calendar:
1. A Newbury Street Walking Tour
Think Newbury Street’s only good for its shopping? Think again. Before Boston’s retail promenade became the city’s epicenter of fashion, it was a hub of art and design. This walking tour, called “Newbury Street as a Work of Art,” reveals how an appreciation for art and architecture guided the historic development of Newbury Street.
Free, registration required, Thursday, May 4, 6-7:30 p.m., Brooks Brothers, 46 Newbury St., eventbrite.com.
2. A Talk and Tour of Everett Square Theater
Everett Square Theater is one of the city’s last remaining vaudeville theaters, and it’s normally not open to the public. On May 4, you’ll have the chance to tour the historic building and hear from author Matt Lambros. He’ll speak about his newest book, After the Final Curtain, and the history of American theaters.
Free, Thursday, May 4, 6-8 p.m., Hyde Park Branch Library, 35 Harvard Ave., artweekboston.org.
3. A Look at Servant Life in the Ayer Mansion
Come ’round, Downton Abbey fans. Commonwealth Avenue’s Ayer Mansion is opening up for a private tour to offer a glimpse into the lives of servants at the grand, Tiffany-designed home. Preservation Advisor Jeanne Pelletier will guide you through the unseen portions of the mansion.
$10, registration required, Saturday, May 13, 6:30 p.m., Ayer Mansion, 395 Commonwealth Ave., boston.gov.
4. A Concrete Architecture Lesson
You may have heard of Charles Bulfinch, the architect who shaped the architectural fabric of Boston. He designed landmarks like the State House and Faneuil Hall, among other famous U.S. buildings. You might be surprised to hear, then, that Boston’s hulking, concrete buildings from the 1960s and ’70s (hi, City Hall) align with Bulfinch’s vision. How so? You’ll have to attend this lecture in City Hall to find out.
Free, registration required, Thursday, May 18, 5:30 p.m., Third Floor Mezzanine, City Hall, 1 City Hall Sq., eventbrite.com.
5. The Ghost of MIT Past Tour
For the first 55 years MIT existed, its campus was located not in Cambridge, but Back Bay. This year marks the 100th anniversary since the school made the move across the Charles. On this tour, you can trace the steps of the relocation with Boston by Foot.
Ticket price TBD, Monday, May 29, 10 a.m., Restoration Hardware, 234 Berkeley St., bostonbyfoot.org.
Preservation Month also offers numerous recurring events. More information is available at boston.gov.