BLC: tavern demo hearing not required

March 18, 2014
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According to the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC), the demolition of a historic former tavern at 804-810 Huntington Ave. earlier this month did not require a community hearing.

The demolition of the former home of Burke’s Tavern earlier this month took local officials and residents by surprise. The apparent lack of notice led to a City Inspectional Services Department (ISD)

stop-work order and questions about historic review.

A letter sent to the Gazette from BLC Executive Director Ellen Lipsey, following the Gazette’s March 7 article, states that the building at 804-810 Huntington Ave. “did not trigger a hearing based on the staff review of criteria for a hearing,” which includes factors such as architecture, streetscape contribution, listing in the National Register, pending Landmark designation, or association with important persons and events.

“Before signing off administratively, a BLC staff member contacted one of the founders of Friends of Historic Mission Hill, who did not raise any issues of significance,” the letter states.

In a letter to the Gazette quoted in that March 7 article, Friends of Historic Mission Hill co-founders Alison Pultinas and Lois Regestein say, “The [demolition] process cries out for well-written [City] policies that consider neighborhood impacts as well as the significance of the standing structure. Historic preservation as well as appropriate new development cannot be taken for granted in Boston.”

The Gazette reached out to BLC for that March 7 article, but BLC did not return the Gazette’s request for comment.

The tavern was a one-story building with a corner entrance at Huntington Avenue and Frawley Street. Decorated with roofline moldings, including a shield and a lion, the structure was built in 1926 and was long home to Burke’s Tavern, an earthy Mission Hill landmark. Burke’s Tavern, owned by the same family for at least two generations, was known in decades past for hosting music acts. Burke’s closed in the mid-1990s and the place later became Pat Flanagan’s. That also closed, and the building has been vacant for at least several years.

The BLC approved tearing down the 87-year-old tavern last fall. It is unclear what is planned to replace the building.

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