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Buildings We Love: Alvah Kittredge House

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Landmarks Commission

The Alvah Kittredge House is a high-style Greek Revival style house in Roxbury.

It is notable for being one of only a few remaining wood-framed buildings of this type and style in the city of Boston. In 1834-36, Alvah Kittredge built this distinctive house with six robust portico columns. This house was the center of his large estate in what is now the Fort Hill neighborhood and Roxbury Highlands. The property was designated as a Boston Landmark in 2016 and was listed on the National Register in 1973.

Fort Hill was an important site during the Revolutionary War. It was named for the earthen forts constructed by patriot soldiers. In the early 19th century this rural area became a home for wealthy families. The area grew more popular due to the introduction of roads to Boston and Pawtucket, RI. Many stately homes dotted this early landscape in Dorchester.

Alvah Kittredge was a politician in Roxbury and deacon of the Eliot Church. He was also a wealthy Boston businessman and purchased several large land parcels in the Roxbury Highlands. He later subdivided these parcels and sold them off for new residential construction. The annexation of Roxbury by the City of Boston in 1846 led to further development. Kittredge built his estate during Roxbury's transition from sprawling residential enclave to suburb. Today it remains a direct link to several notable individuals and Roxbury's past.

Over its lifespan, the building at 10 Linwood Street saw several significant changes. It was moved to promote denser residential development.  At the same time the building lost several of its distinctive ells and other features. The early 1990s saw the building vacant for the first time in its existence, a span that went on to last 20 years. During this period the building deteriorated significantly.

The preservation nonprofit organization Historic Boston Inc (HBI) purchased the building in 2011. They set out to preserve and rehabilitate the building and reuse it for new housing units. The property, which had fallen into extreme disrepair while vacant, became structurally unsound. Additionally, the interior had been further damaged and ransacked by vandals. Still, HBI secured grants and donations to complete the project. They also utilized state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits. The total cost of the project was close to $4 million.

The scope of work completed by HBI included stabilizing the building and repairing the building envelope. Specialists restored front windows and repaired the front pilasters, cornice, and entry. Specialists also rebuilt the pediment and fabricated four new front columns. The team also repaired and replaced missing interior decorative features. The work returned the building to its former glory while updating the interior.

The rehabilitation of this significant building eliminated a blighted property. The project enhances and contributes to the character of the neighborhood. It also added five new units to the housing market, including two affordable units. This project is a case study in the successful reuse of a historic building for modern need. It also shows the value of historic buildings to communities.

Interested in learning more about the Alvah Kittredge House? Read more about the house and some of its residents in the Alvah Kittredge House Boston Landmarks Commission Study Report.

Find out more about Historic Boston, Inc., on their website.

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