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Mayor Walsh celebrates Granary restoration and improvements on Boston Freedom Trail

The year-long project received an annual Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award this year.

BOSTON - September 14, 2016 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh will today visit Boston's iconic Freedom Trail to celebrate the award-winning Granary Burying Ground restoration project and extensive improvements to the Freedom Trail, now in its 65th year.  At 12:30 p.m., Mayor Walsh will join Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook, Public Works Commissioner Michael Dennehy, City officials and Freedom Trail Foundation members to review the recent work completed along the Trail.

"Boston's Freedom Trail is an important landmark for our City and region," said Mayor Walsh. "These improvement projects will make the Freedom Trail more accessible, and will help guide residents and visitors to Boston's popular historic treasures over the coming years."

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department's Historic Burying Ground Initiative's project to restore the Granary Burying Ground grand entryway, dating back to 1840, included the removal of the entire 315-foot fence, requiring close inspection, removal of rust and paint and repainting. Fence pieces were recast and many pickets needed to be lengthened to re-anchor to the granite wall. Cracks in the granite wall and piers were repaired, and a chunk of missing granite wall was replaced as were brick shims under the granite wall. Once repainted and restored, the fence was reinstalled along the repaired granite wall. The final stage of the project included the cleaning of the impressive granite wall and gateway using specialized cleaning materials.  

The year-long project, completed by landscape architect, Kyle Zick, and contractor, Woven Steel, received an annual Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award this year. Now in its 38th year, the preservation awards presented the awards to 12 other entities' projects throughout the Commonwealth.  

Boston's Historic Burying Grounds Initiative received $41,000 from the Freedom Trail Foundation's Preservation Fund for the project.  The City of Boston's Historic Burying Grounds Initiative's capital improvement budget annual appropriation, the Fund for Parks and Recreation, and grants from the George B. Henderson Foundation and Freedom Trail Foundation's Preservation Fund covered the estimated $283,585 project construction costs. 

Built in 1660, the Granary is Boston's and the Northeast's most visited historic burying ground with over one million annual visitors. The restored entryway helps to create an improved first impression to this historic site on the Freedom Trail. The Granary project, along with the Freedom Trail Foundation's $125,000 support of a $300,000 landscape restoration undertaking in 2011, helped to improve and maintain the heavily-trafficked historic site.

The extensive improvements project to the physical Freedom Trail, completed by the Department of Public Works, included replacing all sections of sidewalk under City jurisdiction in need of repair and upgrading 30 pedestrian ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including the Tremont Street section in front of the Granary Burying Ground from Park Street to Beacon Street.

In addition to the Tremont Street section, improvements have been completed on School Street in Downtown Boston and in the North End on Hanover Street from Cross Street to Richmond Street, Hull Street from Copp's Hill Burying Ground to Commercial Street, and Commercial Street from Hull Street to North Washington Street.  

In 2015, the Department installed approximately 1,400 feet of new walking surface in over 60 locations from Boston Common to Bunker Hill.  As of August 2015, nearly 8 percent of the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, including sections of Hull Street and Hanover Street in the North End were replaced and more sidewalk replacements were underway, with a total project cost of $700,000.

This maintenance work is in addition to the City's Connect Historic Boston project, which will fully reconstruct Joy Street, Commercial Street, Blackstone Block and Constitution Road. Connect Historic Boston is funded, in part, through the Federal Highway Administration's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program and is a result of a partnership between the City of Boston, the Federal Highway Administration and the National Parks Service to improve non-vehicular access to historic sites in the City. Over the course of the next two years, the $25 million project, managed by the Public Works Department, will add another 1,800 feet of new construction to the Freedom Trail.

In 2014, the City replaced nearly 2,000 feet of the painted sections of the historic Freedom Trail in Charlestown, Downtown Crossing and the North End with a new thermoplastic treatment. The multi-colored strips have helped to eliminate time consuming, seasonal painting, reducing maintenance costs and improving historic site way-finding, and are expected to last up to eight years.

"With over four million people enjoying the Freedom Trail and our great city's historic sites annually, the City of Boston's restoration of the Granary Burying Ground and Freedom Trail improvement efforts are commendable," said Freedom Trail Foundation Executive Director Suzanne Taylor. "The City of Boston's hard work has made a significant difference to the Granary's grand entryway, and will help residents and visitors navigate the Freedom Trail to experience each of the Trail's 16 sites year-round."

In celebration of the Freedom Trail's 65th anniversary, the Freedom Trail Foundation will work to redesign the official Freedom Trail website, and create a Freedom Trail signage proposal in partnership with the City of Boston with planning support from a Tourism Cares grant.

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile path that traces through Downtown Boston, the North End and Charlestown leading to 16 nationally significant sites. The Trail includes a variety of historic sites, including museums, meeting houses, churches, a ship, historic markers, parks and burying grounds, all telling the story of the American Revolution.

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