YLP workshop: James Smith from Ann Beha Architects

By YLP youth members

On Thursday, December 9, YLP learned about the history of the one-year old Shattuck Emerald Necklace Visitor and Volunteer Center, located at 125 The Fenway in the Back Bay Fens. James Smith, from the preeminent Boston-based architecture firm Ann Beha Architects, served as project lead during the process of renovating the historic H.H. Richardson into the Conservancy’s new home. James explained that this building was at one time used to control storm water run-off; beneath the building, you will still find a large conduit with storm gates that were raised and lowered according to control the flow of the Muddy River.

This building has gone through a lot over the years. After serving as the Muddy River Gatehouse, the building sat vacant for many decades, until last year when the building was renovated and transformed into the Conservancy’s office. The building is now widely appreciated and put to good use. We also learned about the building that is located next door to the Conservancy, which today is still used as a gatehouse. In earlier days, the gates were operated by a hand crank which lifted the storm gates and released water into the Muddy River. Now, modern-day machines operate the gates. I find it interesting that this office, once in disrepair, now functions as a stopping point for pedestrians interested in Frederick Law Olmsted and the Emerald Necklace park system.

We greatly appreciate the knowledge passed on to us by James Smith. There is so much that we didn’t know, and we now feel more connected to the history of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and more familiar with the field of architecture.


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