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Bay Village Historic District

The Bay Village Historic District was designated in 1983.

The Bay Village Architectural Commission (BVAC) meets the second Tuesday of each month to review proposed exterior design changes and alterations.

Design Review Process

All exterior work (including work at rooftops) that is, or will be visible from any public way is subject to the review of the BVAC.  You must submit a Design Approval Application to the Commission and it must be approved by the Commission before beginning any exterior work that is subject to Commission review.

  • To save time and costs, contact staff early in the  planning process to determine project compliance with guidelines.
  • Review all instructions and documentation requirements before submitting your application to ensure it is complete. Only complete applications will be added to a public hearing agenda.
  • Submit your application well in advance of a filing deadline in case it is marked incomplete and additional or revised information needs to be submitted.
  • Staff is not available to review applications for completeness immediately upon submittal.
  • Do not begin any work, or buy materials until after you have received confirmation your project has been approved.

The Bay Village area consisted of mudflats caused by Back Bay tides until 1825, when a City ordinance was passed that authorized the construction of a dam to be built from Baldwin Mills to Fayette Street. Once the area was dammed and drained, the land was suitable for the construction of houses, which began almost immediately.

Regulations often limited early construction in Bay Village in terms of height and construction materials and, as a result, the major streets tend to be very visually similar; red brick was the building material of choice, often with a granite foundation.  Structures constructed between 1825 and 1899 are representative of a variety of architectural styles, ranging from Federal to late Victorian.

Twentieth century structures in Bay Village tend to deviate from the patterns set by these older structures, and include examples of adaptive reuse or new commercial buildings in the Art Deco and Moderne styles.

Bay Village was built by and home to many of Boston’s chief carpenter-builders and artisans, including stair builders, masons, paperhangers, printers, piano makers, and a variety of other tradesmen. It was also the center of the movie industry in Boston for much of the 20th century.