The Holocaust Legacy Foundation, Inc filed a Small Project Review Application (attached below) with a proposal to demolish the existing building at 125 Tremont Street and construct a Holocaust Museum and Education Center. More information about the process and comment period is available at the BPDA website.
The existing Georgian Revival brick building at 125 Tremont Street, across from the Boston Common and the Park Street Church, was constructed in 1955 for the Merchants Cooperative Bank. The building is not known to have historic or architectural significance, though it blends in to the streetscape in its historic setting on the Freedom Trail.
The Alliance has met with the project team and will continue to engage as the review process progresses. We do not feel that the existing building warrants preservation due to lack of historic or architectural significance. However we do feel that building reuse is a crucial solution for climate action and we reviewed alternatives to demolition with the project team, none of which are viable for a museum program. We encourage this team, as we do for all demolition proposals, to engage with the City of Boston’s Environment Department to pursue deconstruction and salvage of the existing building. We appreciate that the original 1880s granite foundation, which predates the existing building, will be reused on site.
Highlights from our Activity Log:
- June 13, 2023
The Boston Landmarks Commission reviews the project within the Article 85 process and waives demolition delay based on lack of viable alternatives to demolition.
- June 7, 2023
The Alliance meets with the project team to review the proposal. The team presents alternatives to demolition which include additions to the existing building as well as retention of just the facade of the existing building with new construction behind. These alternatives are not conducive to the museum program intended for this site. The Alliance encourages deconstruction and salvage, and notes that this building is still viable for other uses and ideally would be reused, but acknowledges it would not be successful as a museum use. The project team explains the intentions of the design- the mesh screen is intended to invoke a curtain pulled back to reveal the atrocities of the Holocaust, and guests are encouraged to make connections between the freedoms that were stolen during the Holocaust and the visualizations and celebrations of freedom visible from the museum such as the Freedom Trail and the State House.
The Alliance expresses strong support for educational sites like the proposed museum that make connections between the past and present, and encourages the team to include information within the museum about other Boston trails and learning opportunities, which is an intention of the proponent. The Alliance suggests that the team consider design gestures that increase communication between the museum and its historic context; visitors come from around the world to experience the historic streetscapes of Boston, especially along the Freedom Trail, and new buildings should contribute to that context, not contradict. We fully support a distinct expression that indicates this building is a museum, but with more continuity with the streetscape.
- June 5, 2023
The project team files a Small Project Review Application with the BPDA, attached below.