December 18, 2017
In Defense of Brutalism: Greg Galer of the Boston Preservation Alliance
When is a building worth saving? This can be a controversial question even among preservationists. Greg Galer, the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, joined us on PreserveCast to share his perspective. Greg has worked to preserve many examples of mid-century modern Brutalist architecture like Boston City Hall and the Boston Christian Science Center. Should exposed concrete structures be preserved the same as 19th century estates? A brutal question (and hard to answer too), but let’s talk about it on this week’s PreserveCast.
When is a building worth saving? This can be a controversial question even among preservationists. Greg Galer, the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, joins us today to share his perspective on that very question. Greg has worked to preserve many examples of mid-century modern Brutalist architecture like Boston City Hall. Should exposed concrete structures be preserved the same as 19th-century estates? It’s a brutal question but let’s talk about it on this week’s PreserveCast.
From Preservation Maryland Studios in the historic podcast district of Baltimore, this is PreserveCast.
[Nick Redding] This is Nick Redding. You’re listening to PreserveCast. We’re joined today by Greg Galer who is currently the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance. Greg is a native of Boston, a passionate preservationist, and has worked in a variety of different positions in the non-profit history and preservation community – everything from working at the New Bedford Whaling Museum to the Stonehill Industrial Center as well as the Valentine Museum down here in the south in Richmond, Virginia. Greg holds degrees in American Civilization from Brown [University] as well as a Ph.D in the history and social study of science and technology from M.I.T. so maybe we can talk a little bit about that. But today, we’re going to be talking with Greg about trying to protect the mid-century and resources associated with both mid-century structures as well as brutal structures and Brutalism, and so we’ll talk a little bit about what all of that means. But first and foremost, Greg, it’s great to have you with us today.
[Greg Galer] Well, good to talk with you, Nick.
[NR] So you have this fantastic resume working in all these really fun, exciting, interesting places. Obviously, there’s passion for history. What got you engaged? When did you really move on this path towards being involved in all of this as a career?
[GG] My real focus really began as an undergraduate but at that time I started reflecting back and actually… up here in Boston we’re starting to talk about the 250th anniversary of the formation of the country… and really the bicentennial when I was in elementary school, really, I think planted a seed. I had a teacher in junior high school who really encouraged us to go out and look at historic sites and some more obscure ones. And being up here in Massachusetts, there’s certainly plenty to go around. But really as an undergrad, I was thinking I was going to major in physics and math and did that for awhile. And then started to realize I could do history of industry and history of technology, which really sort of melded that long-standing interest in history with the sort of science-y part of my brain. So it really goes back about 30 years.
[NR] Sort of started more on the museum side than the preservation side?
[GG] Yes and no. I mean, as an undergraduate I had actually did some preservation work and did some survey work in Rhode Island’s Blackstone Valley National Historic Charter that had just been established. That’s an old industrial river basically that runs from Providence north up into Massachusetts. And I was lucky enough to connect with a professor who was doing some survey work. So I was doing field work from the very beginning of my career. But the first job I ended up getting was down at the Valentine Museum down in Richmond. So it was a museum job curating and sort of building their industrial history collection. But within a year I was managing transforming a 19th century ironworks into a new museum site and working with architects and archaeologists and the S.H.P.O. [State Historic Preservation] Office. So it’s always been a blend of museum and preservation work.
[NR] And now how long have you been with the Boston Preservation Alliance? How long have you been back in Boston?
[GG] I’ve been around Boston – I was only in Richmond for a few years, back in the late ’80s, early ’90s – and I’ve been back in the Boston area. But I’ve been here at the Preservation Alliance five years this fall.
What Is Brutalism Exactly?
[NR] And why don’t you give us just so people are familiar… I mean, we talk to different heads of preservation groups around the country and they’re all kind of different in their own ways. What is the Boston Preservation Alliance look like? What kind of an organization is it? What do you focus on? What’s the kind of work that you do?
[GG] Yeah. So we’re a small, non-profit, independent, historic preservation advocacy organization. So we don’t own any property like many of the organizations you and I know well. We are straight-up advocacy and education. We’re about a 40-year-old organization. Next year we’ll hit 40 years. Small. I mean our annual budget’s only a little over $300,000. About three and half F.T.E. for staff. And we’re very engaged throughout the city of Boston itself. So we don’t work outside of Boston except on some national issues like the historic tax credit or some things that are pertinent to Boston. But for the most part, it’s Boston issues. And we really summarize our work with a little tagline that we like to use, which is that we’re about protecting places, promoting vibrancy, and preserving character. And that really came out of a strategic planning effort we did a couple years ago. And it was very thoughtfully constructed.
We like to say that we’re not about stopping change in the city; but we’re about thoughtful change. And how do you integrate preserving the unique things about the unique character of Boston… and actually drive many successes here and the growing population here? How do you promote preserving those unique things while allowing the city to continue to evolve and grow? We have a fairly large board of 27, a very strong young advisors board for professionals 40 and under. And we’re an umbrella organization. So we have 40 organizational members that are part of us that run the gamut from small local historical societies through many of the iconic Freedom Trail sites here in Boston through some of the large museums like the Museum of Fine Arts. And we’re supported by a very strong corporate network as well as individuals. We have 104 corporate members. And to me that’s really important because it does include some of the largest developers and architects in the city and it really signals that preservation is something for everyone. That we’re not crazy people trying to stop the city from changing. But it’s something that floats all boats for the success of the city.
[NR] So that’s a good segue into what we wanted to talk about today. Because I think for a lot of people when they think of Boston they think of the Freedom Trail and these fantastic 18th and early 19th century resources. And you’re certainly flush with those. I know that Boston Preservation Alliance has been involved in trying to protect things of a more recent lineage. In particular, mid-century modern architecture, Brutalism. For people listening, why don’t you give us your definition of, I suppose, Brutalism or mid-century resources? Some good examples maybe from Boston that you guys have been involved with.
[GG] Sure. Well, as you know, the definition’s tricky and the name itself causes… is maybe the root of many of the problems.
[NR] Yeah. It doesn’t help.
[GG] No, it doesn’t help. And just so people listening who don’t know, Brutalism makes people think of brutal and that’s how many of these buildings feel on initial introduction to them. But it’s really a false cognate. The word has nothing to do with brutal. It’s really a French term that comes – well, there’s probably some debate about where it really comes from – but there’s a French term. Béton brut – of course, my French is terrible – which effectively means “raw concrete.” It’s really about the fact that many of these Brutalist buildings are concrete raw formed and you can see the form finish of the wood or however that was done. But the origins of Brutalism really go back to the 1950s and Le Corbusier became popular here in the ’60s. And I think these are buildings that are admittedly hard to love. They’re often kind of cold. Many of them weren’t 100% successful. And they do have challenges and I think we’ve seen here in Boston, particularly with our Boston City Hall, which we’ll probably get into in detail… but it’s a building that had suffered a bit from a downward spiral in that people didn’t like it. Our long-term mayor didn’t like it so he didn’t take care of it. And the building just started look worse and worse and become harder and harder to appreciate and love when people aren’t taking care of it.
[NR] And why do people say that they don’t like it? You’ve probably heard a lot about that. But what was it about these buildings that people tend not to like?
[GG] Well, I mean, concrete is not necessarily a warm and fuzzy material. Unlike… we have a lot of brick here in Boston and a lot of wood and a lot of nice stone of various types. If you compare Boston City Hall to something like Trinity Church designed by Richardson, which is very ornate and nice, warm brownstone, it’s very much apples and oranges. I think the other thing is the setting of many of these buildings (and Boston City Hall in particular) suffers from the fact that it’s surrounded by a plaza that’s a large expanse of brick with really no support for it. It’s an aspect of the design that didn’t really work. It was never really fully completed as proposed. So sometimes the conflation of challenges with the building and challenges with the site. The buildings are very angular in many regards. I think many of the design elements that are actually really fascinating are not obvious to the viewer. And I bring this up not infrequently with some new designs that we look at for new construction when the architects have these kind of obtuse explanations for their things. I say, “Well, don’t forget City Hall because if you have to explain it to someone so aggressively that that point’s going to be missed on most people.” So I think that’s some of the challenges, and I think we have turned a corner or are starting to turn a corner on this. And I think people are starting to appreciate these buildings more within their historic context and within some of the more subtle elements that have sort of been lost when people have been just frustrated by their initial impression. And Boston City Hall has been sort of challenged from it’s beginning. The architects loved it. The broader community has always been a little more suspect.
[NR] And I think that that’s kind of the case with a lot of these brutalism structures from all across the country. You hear things like that [with] the Jay Edgar Hoover F.B.I. Building, there’s been people who haven’t like it from the beginning and there’s been people who have been in love with it from the beginning. And I guess that’s like any building. But as an organization that does preservation advocacy, was this your sort of first jump into trying to protect something a little bit more recent? Was it difficult to make that decision to say, “Okay, we’re going to stick our neck out for something that a lot of people love to hate”?
[GG] Well, I mean, for City Hall specifically that path has already been led before I started here because there was a longstanding battle to try to keep it. So I don’t know what the discussion was here early on. But I know that there are a number of buildings and maybe we should come back to City Hall but talk about some other buildings here in Boston that are actually better liked. And I think it’s also important to point out and remind folks that “like” isn’t really a measurable term and not something that we really focus on in preservation, right? Whether you like it or not really isn’t the measure of whether we should preserve it. It helps to like it and enjoy it. But I’m often reminding, particularly in the context of some of these brutalist buildings, that it wasn’t long ago that Victorian buildings were despised and torn down left and right and it’s appalling to think of today. And when you tell people that, sometimes it gets them to think a little bit differently. But we have the Christian Science Center here in Boston that was built 1971-72 that was designed by Cossutta in the I.M. Pei and his team, which is very much loved, very successful. It’s an interesting complex of buildings and it’s really considered the sort of the whole complex. In fact, actually it’s been landmarked and we could talk about that as well, in terms of these newer buildings and how you protect them. Generally we think of the 50-year-old, but we do have some examples here in Boston that are less than 50 years that have been formally landmarked to provide some protections. And the Christian Science Center is actually a place that I’ve loved since I was a kid. It’s got a big reflecting pool. It’s got one major historic building, which is sort of the mother church of the Christian Science group as well as an older building that was their publishing house. And then in the ’70s, [there was] major expansion of that site. But that’s one that people really like here in Boston. We recently actually had just awarded… Philip Johnson did a 1970-ish edition to our Boston Public Library, which is in McKim Mead White building. It’s considered very important in architecture in the country. The McKim Mead White, Johnson did this edition, which is similarly never really worked very well for a whole variety of reasons. And there’s just been a major renovation and change to that that’s been very warmly received. So I think part of this is understanding that these buildings can change and adapt and preservation for them and how you do that and what you allow and don’t is often very different from what you would consider for the Paul Revere House that we have here in Boston, which is a totally different kind of animal.
[NR] Yeah. Well, why don’t we take a quick break right here? And then maybe when we come back, we can talk a little bit more about how you do go about preserving these places and how to build public support for that and how all that comes together. And we’ll do that when we return right here on PreserveCast.
[Stephen Israel] If you’ve been in a store or watched television in the last two months, you probably are aware that we are approaching Christmas. But as I record this, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is currently underway. Hanukkah celebrations in America have changed significantly from when the first Jewish settlers arrived in Maryland in the mid-17th century. Historically a minor holiday, Hanukkah gained new relevance in the American melting pot due to its proximity to Christmas. And I thought we could talk a little about the history of how Hanukkah came to be the way it is today.
Also called the Festival of Lights, many of you are probably already familiar with the story of Hanukkah. It commemorates the victory of the Maccabees, a Jewish rebel group, against the Greco-Syrian King Antiochus IV. As the army entered the temple in Jerusalem and began reconstructing it, their leader Judah Maccabee, ordered that the menorah, a sacred candelabra, be lit. They quickly realized however that they only had enough oil to last a single night and it would take eight nights for more oil to be brought to the temple. In spite of this, the oil lasted all eight nights and the menorah was kept alight. The event was pronounced a miracle and remembered every year thereafter for the holiday of Hanukkah.
As more and more Jewish immigrants arrived to the United States – Baltimore being one of the largest ports – and attempted to integrate with local populations, they did all they could to preserve their own traditions while sharing in Christian American culture. For example, the traditions of gift giving at Hanukkah have developed largely in response to Christmas gift giving. In fact, the idea of giving gifts on Hanukkah besides gelt, the traditional chocolate pieces wrapped in gold foil to look like coins, didn’t really develop until the 1950s… when both rabbis and secular leaders in the Jewish community suggested gift giving as a method of making Jewish children feel happy and proud of their heritage in a post-Holocaust world.
Other aspects of the holiday developed to mirror Christmas as well. Hanukkah decorations became more prominent in the mid-20th century with blue, silver, and yellow becoming popular choices to help brand the holiday… similar to the red and green of Christmas, colors which themselves only became synonymous with the holiday in the 1930s in part due to an advertising campaign from Coca-Cola. Anyway, if you’re in the Baltimore area, you may still be able to see a more recent local Hanukkah tradition before the eight-day holiday ends on Wednesday the 20th. On McKeldin Square in Baltimore City there’s a 30-foot tall menorah erected in honor of Ester Ann Brown Adler as part of the Baltimore Hanukkah Festival, which has been lit every year since 2010. Anyway, that was a lot and I better wrap things up before you guys get burned out and let you get back to PreserveCast.
Do you have questions? We may answers. If at any point during this podcast you’ve thought of a question that you have for us or maybe one of our guests, we’d love to hear about it. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try and answer it right here on the air on the next episode of preserve
The CITGO Sign as a Boston Landmark
[NR] This is Nick Redding you’re listening to PreserveCast. We’re joined today by Greg Galer the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance. And we’ve been talking with Greg about protecting all things associated with the more recent past… mid-century, Brutalism and how to build support for places that arguably some people don’t like. And then, of course, some do… and how we do that and why it matters. Greg before we took our break you were giving us a good list of different places that you’ve been involved in. I also know I read about the CITGO sign. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that? Because I think that falls probably under that same category although different from the kind of architecture we’re talking about of course.
[GG] Right, right. Now the CITGO sign is an interesting one. Many people around the country know it but certainly here in New England, it is well-known. It’s a 60′ x 60′ sign. Originally neon converted to LEDs first I think about 15, 20 years ago. It sits near Fenway Park. It sits at about mile 25 of the Boston Marathon. It’s visible from the Charles River where the major rowing event Head of The Charles is held. It’s literally a landmark for Boston in terms of people literally navigate by it. It’s remarkable how many places you can see this thing from. And it’s the big CITGO trimark, that big red triangle with the word CITGO in blue underneath it, two-sided sign. Interestingly it sits on a building that’s not owned by CITGO. It doesn’t even sit anywhere near a gas station. But for here in Boston, it’s really– in terms of sort of identifying icon here in Boston. Or as well as nationally… so if there’s a national sporting event or something and they show scenes of the city they’ll show Old Ironsides, the ship of the War of 1812. They’ll show the Bunker Hill Monument or the State House or the Paul Revere House or the Swan Boats or the CITGO sign. It’s really been elevated to that level of signifier for Boston. You see a lot of people wearing shirts and hats with the red triangle. Some say CITGO, some don’t. And that sign was threatened last year. It is actually on the roof of another building that was owned by Boston University. They decided to sell the property, we didn’t want to lose the sign. So it’s been this sort of protracted effort to protect the sign and work with the new property owner who wants to redevelop some of that property. That area of town, Kenmore Square, is sort of on the cusp of significant reinvestment. Nearby has had a lot. So how do we do that in a way that protects the sign? It’s very challenging. We have a landmark petition to formally protect it within the city ordinance that’s pending. But it’s got a whole host of challenging issues that… on the legal sense and you’re trying to protect something on a building on a sign that’s rented from somebody else, etc. etc. We did an online petition and I think we got 16,000 signatures or something of people who want to support the landmarking of that sign.
Preserving Brutalism By Understanding its Cultural Context
[NR] Which is a fantastic story and it sounds like it’s to be continued there so people can check in with the Boston Preservation Alliance to find out how that plays out. But I think the point that you just made there in the end when you said that there were 16,000 people who signed on suggests that preserving these sorts of resources, whether they be an iconic sign of the more recent past or a building like the Christian Science Center… one that you were talking about which is beloved, there can be a lot of support publicly for doing this kind of work. It’s not as if everyone is opposed to the idea of protecting things from the mid-century or the more recent past. But I’m just kind of curious to that point, what have you found that has worked well for the Preservation Alliance in terms of trying to save these places? What are some experiences that you’ve had that maybe you would offer to other people who are thinking about doing this in their own community and trying to protect a more recent resource?
[GG] I think part of it is getting people to look at these places differently and understand them better. I think understanding is a first step. And get people to move off of their knee-jerk reaction to these buildings I think that is one important aspect. You know Boston City Hall, if you start explaining to people, it’s origins in the period when Boston was gravely in decline in the late 50s into the early 60s… It was really a dying city– white flight, lack of investment. There was really no construction going on in Boston. It’s hard to think of that today because Boston is so vibrant and so successful and that wasn’t all that long ago. The downsides of the Boston City Hall effort was that it wasn’t an outgrowth of urban renewal. We did lose some significant resources, effectively lost a neighborhood. But it was also a turning point for the city of investment. So I think getting people to understand of the history of these buildings and where they came from and why they are what they are… I mean, Boston City Hall is really designed to upend the understanding of what a city hall should be. It actually reflects some classical design in terms of what a city-focused government place should be. Interestingly, the mayor’s office literally hangs over the sidewalk. The City Council Chamber, similarly, is in a block that hangs out over the plaza. So getting people to understand these buildings differently, getting people to understand that oftentimes many of the things they don’t like about them is a result of lack of care and lack of investment. And if these buildings were actually cared for and cleaned up, they would have a different perspective.
And thankfully, here in Boston with City Hall, with the change of administration… Mayor Walsh who came in four years ago, was just reelected. They actually initially campaigned on the continued effort to get rid of City Hall and to sell it and to move city government somewhere else. Thankfully, through some means I understand and some I don’t (some are economic) the realities of the building and its site turned a corner and said, “Well, let’s see if we can make the best of this building.” And he’s been making some – with our support and encouragement – some incremental changes that are starting to change people’s perspectives. One’s a lighting program. They needed to upgrade a bunch of the lighting. They actually saved money by going to LED but did some colored lighting scheme that’s started to change some people’s perspective. Some really inexpensive things outside the building to get people to engage with it differently. Some of them were kind of silly, but they’re cheap and have worked. Some artificial turf and some cheap picnic tables and Adirondack chairs that I think they bought from Home Depot. During the summer, there are actually people hanging out there, having lunch. And if five, six years ago you said people are looking for tables and not able to find them at City Hall Plaza for lunch, they would be surprised. So there’s been a number of things like that that have helped. And then incremental investments… They just re-did part of the major lobbies and made some changes that are making the building work a little better, look a little better. I think that’s one thing I would definitely recommend is: there’s a way to do some incremental changes. Start to change people’s perspective about their relationship with these buildings. I think that makes a huge difference.
[NR] And I guess placemaking as well, which is kind of what you’re talking about which is trying to activate spaces around these buildings. And, perhaps, there was some aspect of the original design or the implementation of it that didn’t quite work. And it’s okay to adapt and make that work a little bit better. Like putting a picnic table in a formerly blank space.
[GG] Right. Right. I think placemaking is a huge part of it. I’ll go back to the Boston Public Library piece. Also understanding that the context of these buildings has changed over time. When Phillip Johnson designed this addition to the main branch of the Boston Public Library, the neighborhood in which it was located was not a place you really wanted to hang out. Now it’s one of the most successful urban shopping areas in the country, very vibrant. But when Johnson did it, the windows on all the first floor were basically covered with granite flint. They have these sort of granite walls because the library’s considered a place to go and isolate yourself from the not very fun urban environment. Well, that’s changed over time. And although that building was landmarked long before it was 50-years-old, the landmarking recognized that some changes would need to happen and maybe those granite walls could come down and that’s what happened. The building’s been reopened. It’s interfaced between that building and the historic McKinley Mead White Building was enhanced. And it’s now hugely successful as a place for people to go hang out. There’s a cafe inside, there’s actually a WGBH, which is based here in Boston, has a recording studio inside that’s utilized. So changing people’s interaction with these spaces, part of the Christian Science Center works so well is it a great urban place. It was designed well from the get-go.
[NR] Yeah and I guess that kind of gets to your point where you’re talking about how the Preservation Alliance sees themselves as a group that manages change well in trying to find the best ways to use place. And it’s not just freezing everything in time and so it is okay for buildings to adapt. Let me ask you though real quick just because you’ve mentioned it a couple of times. How you have been involved or are aware efforts where landmarking has taken place with a building less than 50 years, how do you make that happen? How does that work in Boston? Any insight on that process?
[GG] Yeah. Here in Boston, there’s no formal 50-year rule within the landmarking. There needs to be an either public petition with I think ten signatures or a landmarks commissioner who can do it on their own. And the initial petition is a sort of summary history and justification of the landmarking. It doesn’t necessarily… the initial filing had to be too, too detailed. But it has to be enough to convince the Landmarks Commission that there’s a reasonable chance that this property will meet the standard, which I can talk about in a second. And if that’s the case, they’ll vote to accept the petition and send it for further study. The staff (or a consultant hired by the staff) do a detailed history and justification of why the property they consider “landmark worthy” and what the guidelines and criteria would be to landmark it, what specific aspects can’t change, what needs to come back to the commission for review, what can be changed without discussion. In the standards here in Boston, one of the most challenging ones it has to have significance beyond a local level. So if it’s just a sort of Boston-only significance, that’s not enough. So it has to be state, regional, or national significance. And that significance can be related to architectural design, people, events, a whole host of things. So we have some landmark districts and a number of individual landmarks as well. That study report has to then get accepted and approved by the Landmarks Commission, the City Council has an opportunity to veto it, and the mayor has to sign off on it as well.
[NR] So it’s a process.
[GG] It’s a process and it’s a challenging process in particular for districts. Districts have a different methodology. They need to be a committee. And then districts then have to be managed by district commissions. So there’s a sort of staff burden on the Landmarks Commission and they have to get commissioners willing to serve. There are a couple of districts here in Boston that were actually created before that process that actually come down from the state level. So many people may know Beacon Hill, which shows up a lot in pictures of Boston where the State House is and the brownstones with the gas lights in front of them. So that was created in a different [inaudible], and Back Bay is another one.
[NR] And are you pursuing any less than 50-year-old nominations right now?
[GG] I think the CITGO sign is the only one at the moment.
[NR] Okay. And how old roughly is that?
[GG] Oh, I knew you were going to ask. I don’t have it in front of me. The 60s.
[NR] The 1960s. Perfect.
[GG] It may be a little later. So it depends on how you date it as well. So ’60s would actually be 50 years old. I think we’re just hitting 50 years now. That was actually petitioned for landmarking about 20 years ago and the landmark failed and it’s come back.
[NR] So Greg, if people want to learn more about Boston Preservation Alliance, the work that you’re doing in your city, how can they find that out? How can they get in touch?
[GG] Well, they can certainly, the easiest thing is to go to our website, BostonPreservation.org. We’ll actually see in the spring a new website in part thanks to some funding from the Moe Foundation at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. But we will be launching a new website in the spring that will hopefully… the plan is that will actually allow people to see individual projects and our day-to-day activity more. That’s one of the challenges that we have is we’re working on a lot of projects, many behind the scenes. A lot of position papers and letters opposing, supporting, commenting on projects that are sort of hard to navigate now. But our website is the best way and our contact information is easily findable there.
[NR] Yeah. It’s hard to sell the advocacy story sometimes because there’s a lot of behind the scenes work. It’s not always the simplest thing. It’s not like just seeing a new roof on a historic building.
[GG] No, and that’s one of the biggest challenges we have as an organization. I mean, on one level it’s great that we don’t own property in that we can be very neutral. We don’t really have any skin in the game in terms of impacting anything we’re owning or developing or rehabbing. But it does make the engagement and the fundraising a little harder because the pretty pictures are a little harder for us to come by.
[NR] And before we part our ways here we’re going to ask you the most difficult question, which is: what is your favorite historic building or place? And we’re curious to hear what the answer is.
[GG] Yeah, so this is the “which of your children is your favorite” question. So, I’m going to cop out and give you a few options here. So in Boston actually, the Christian Science Center that I’ve mentioned a few times, is one of them. Not only because of the mid-century modern aspect, that really works well. But it’s got some funkiness to it. Inside one of the older buildings is something called a Mapparium from 1935, which is a giant stain-glassed globe that you walk through the middle of and you can see what all these countries were back in 1935… very different, particularly in Africa. The second here in Boston is the Northern Avenue Bridge, which is something… 1908 swing bridge, that we’ve been working aggressively to save. We’ve actually been trying to save that since the 1970s and it’s still an active project. And then I thought I’d just mention two outside of Boston. One being the Brooklyn Bridge, which I think, for me, historic sites that tell a story and really connect with other aspects. So with the Brooklyn Bridge you have engineering and politics and economics and the crazy effort to construct it. I think that’s a place that really speaks to me. And then finally I’ll mention a Massachusetts place that people should know about and come visit. Which is Northeastern Massachusetts, which is a place where I lived for about 20 years and studied extensively. Home to five HH Richardson buildings, homesteads, landscapes, and the factory complex, worker housing, and associated elements that led to the funding to create that wonderful village just south of Boston.
[NR] Well, leave it to Greg Galer to answer a question about one favorite historic building and give us four.
[GG] Yeah. I can never decide.
[NR] It’s been a pleasure and we appreciate all the good work that you’re doing up in Boston to save these places that matter. And to save, in a sense on the mid-century side, the landmarks of tomorrow. Because we don’t want to get someone to come along and say, “Can you believe they knocked down all these wonderful places?” Just like we talk about the Victorian and other eras. We’re leading in that sense and the preservation community is and thanks to the good work of folks like you in Boston. So thanks for your good work and thanks for joining us today.
[GG] Thanks for having me, Nick. I appreciate it.
You don’t need to open a history book to find us and available online from iTunes and their Google Play Store as well as our website: PresMD.org. This is PreserveCast.
This podcast was developed under a grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, a unit of the National Park Service. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Milestones Heritage Area and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the National Park Service or the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
This week’s episode was produced and engineered by Ben and Stephen Israel. Our executive producer is Aaron Marcavitch. Our theme music is performed by the band Pretty Gritty. You can learn more about them at their website: PrettyGrittyMusic.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter @PG_PrettyGritty.
To learn about Preservation Maryland or this week’s guests, visit: PreservationMaryland.org. While there, you can check out our blog and learn about what’s current in historic preservation. We’re also on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Twitter @PreservationMD. And of course, a very special thank you to our listeners. Keep preserving!
There are several groups dedicated to the study and preservation of modern architecture. If it’s your thing, be sure to check out the resources available via DOCOMOMO and DOCOMOMO DC. It’s one of preservation’s best acronyms and it represents the International Committee for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement.
The Anarchist’s Podcast on Historic House Museums