Architecture

Five Ways to Celebrate Preservation Month in Boston

From a scavenger hunt across the city's burying grounds to an Art Deco tour of Back Bay.


An Art Deco building in Boston / Photo by Lance Anderson on Unsplash

It’s the officially best time of the year for architecture and history geeks. Preservation Month is upon us again, and Boston’s lineup of celebratory events this May is looking top-notch.

During Preservation Month, cities across the country set out to promote heritage tourism and to raise awareness about the power of historic preservation. In Boston, that means architectural walking tours galore. This year, there are walking tours of more than a dozen neighborhoods scheduled, including Jeffries Point, Beacon Hill, Jamaica Plain, Bay Village, the South End, the Ladder Blocks District, and more.

In addition to walking tours, the Boston Landmarks Commission has planned events, lectures, and exhibitions for just about every day of the month, from a historic window restoration talk to a trip to the top of the Custom House Tower. Ahead, find five standouts from the event calendar.

M.L.K. and Coretta Scott King Walking Tour

Did you know Martin Luther King Jr. met his future wife, Coretta Scott King, while he was studying at Boston University and she was pursuing a degree in music education at New England Conservatory? This 90-minute walking tour highlights 10 places where the couple spent time between 1951 and 1954. Journalist and historian Clennon L. King will lead the tour, providing commentary on “where they met, fell in love, lived, worked, played, worshiped, sang, and studied.”

$25, registration required, Thursday, May 10, 6-7:30 p.m., Southwest Corridor Park, 396 Northampton St., boston.gov.

King’s Chapel Burying Ground photo via the Boston Public Library/Creative Commons

Walking Dead Scavenger Hunt: Buried Bostonians of Downtown

Before Bostonians thought to bury their dead in rural cemeteries, they placed them in their neighborhood burying grounds. As a result, several historic cemeteries remain smack dab in the middle of bustling downtown. At this event, embark on a scavenger hunt of Copp’s Hill, King’s Chapel, and Granary Burying Grounds with guidance from Boston Landmarks Commission staffers. (It’s not very scary, they promise.)

Free, registration encouraged, Friday, May 18, 3-6 p.m., Copps Hill Burying Ground, Hull Street Entrance, boston.gov.

Tour “Hello Muddy!”

For years, a big chunk of the Muddy River was covered up by a parking lot. But recently, the series of ponds was overhauled, returning it to the way Frederick Law Olmsted originally envisioned when he planned the Emerald Necklace over a century ago. Get a better understanding of the timeline of the project, and how the river and park were restored, on this tour.

Free, Saturday, May 19, 11 a.m.-12 p.m., REI, Landmark Center, 401 Park Drive, boston.gov.

Muddy River photo via Boston Public Library/Creative Commons

Forest Hills Cemetery: Some Famous Proponents and Their Stories

The first person to be cremated in Forest Hills Cemetery’s crematory was none other than Lucy Stone, an abolitionist and ardent proponent of women’s suffrage. (She once said she was “decidedly in favor of Cremation!”) Hear about Stone, and the other New England notables cremated there, at this event in Jamaica Plain.

$10, registration required, Sunday, May 20, 2-3:30 p.m., Lucy Stone Chapel, Forest Hills Crematory, 171 Walk Hill St., boston.gov.

Art Deco in the Back Bay

If you can spot a bold, geometric Art Deco flourish from a mile away, this tour is probably your cup of tea. It will explore the architectural style as seen in the first four blocks of Back Bay, from the New England Power Building to the second John Hancock building, also known as the Berkeley Building. The talk will also look to the future, covering the development of new Art Deco structures and the incorporation of its design into existing ones.

$15, registration required, Monday, May 28, Statler Park Foundation, 243 Stuart St., boston.gov.

Download these free Preservation Month posters at boston.gov

Preservation Month also offers numerous recurring events. More information and the full events calendar is available at boston.gov.