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Notes from the trenches: Boston’s oldest buildings


Published by:

Landmarks Commission

The Landmarks Commission’s City Archaeologist, Joe Bagley, is celebrating 2021 Preservation Month this May with the release of his second book, "Boston’s Oldest Buildings and Where to Find Them", through Brandeis University Press. 

As Boston approaches its 400th anniversary, it is a testament to the City’s rich and diverse historic character that its prominence in our built environment has sustained  through centuries of unprecedented growth. The 50 buildings featured in this book all pre-date 1795 and illustrate Boston’s early history. This is the first book to survey Boston’s 50 oldest buildings and does so through an approachable narrative which will appeal to non-architects and those new to historic preservation. Beginning with a map of the buildings’ locations and an overview of the historic preservation movement in Boston, the book looks at the 50 buildings in order from oldest to most recent. 


Notes from the trenches

Geographically, the majority of the buildings are located within the downtown area of Boston along the Freedom Trail and within easy walking distance from the core of the City. This makes the book an ideal guide for tourists, and residents of the City will also find it interesting as it includes numerous properties in the surrounding neighborhoods. The buildings span multiple uses, from homes to churches, and warehouses to restaurants. Each chapter features a building, a narrative focusing on its historical significance, and the efforts made to preserve it over time. Full color photos and historical drawings illustrate each building and area. "Boston’s Oldest Buildings and Where to Find Them" presents the ideals of historic preservation in an approachable and easy-to-read manner appropriate for the broadest audience possible. Perfect for history lovers, architectural enthusiasts, and tourists alike.

All of the author proceeds from the sales of this book will support the outreach and education efforts of the Environment Department’s Preservation Team, including the Boston Landmarks Commission and the Archaeology program.  Look for the book at your favorite bookstore or online shop beginning this April.

To celebrate the launch of the book and Preservation Month, a virtual event will be hosted on Monday, May 3! Joe Bagley will also be speaking at over a dozen digital book talks with local libraries, historical institutions, and community centers. We will share all event details here on our website and social media, so make sure to follow and sign-up for our newsletter! 

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