Letter to the Editor: On Lower Mills project, heed the past

To the Editor:
Roseanne Foley, the executive director of our City Landmarks Commission, knows what she is talking about and she cares very much about historic connectivity in this town and city that we love. Roseanne is a champion of historic preservation in Dorchester and across the city. As many know, Dorchester’s architectural heritage is superb going back to the earliest days of the settlement of what are now the Suffolk and Norfolk counties. That heritage is especially distinctive at Lower Mills.

It seems that the problems of the proposed Lower Mills project can easily be resolved by having the development team acknowledge the historic context that Lower Mills offers and also look at examples of projects around town that seamlessly incorporate new buildings with old buildings, thereby strengthening the overall historic/contemporary settings.

An example of this idea, albeit on a larger scale, is located at the corner of Oliver Street and Atlantic Avenue where pre-1840 buildings at the site are preserved and integrated into the larger massing of the new building.

Rather than erect another blah, blah monolithic structure there, the designers and the BRA appreciated the old buildings featuring the scale and class of their day. The dance harmony of the old and new makes one reflect on the old Atlantic avenue that begat the new beautiful building as part of a new context. It takes a knowledgeable, clever designer to pull it off, but in this case it works very well.

At the Lower Mills site, there is a similar opportunity: Once the 1740-era and other historic buildings are thoughtfully and carefully woven into the fabric created by the new building, the new building will become a new anchor as worthy and as important to this context as when the beautiful Lower Mills Village was first established.

Edward Roche