Category Archives: Blog

The Widow’s Walk

The Widow’s Walk

An iconic coastal adornment

The romantic widow’s walk is a classic adornment of many nineteenth-century coastal homes throughout New England. Historians note that widow’s walks became popular during the early 1800s when sea captains built large, private homes from the fortunes they amassed in the whaling and shipping industries. Inspired by the cupolas of Italianate architecture, the design addition soon became synonymous with New England coastal architecture and remains so today.

Home with a widow's walk
Caption: This Edgartown home has everything people love about New England architecture, including a classic widow’s walk flanked by large stone chimneys.

The widow’s walk (or “viewing platform,” as it was sometimes called) is a raised and fenced rectangular structure built on the roof of a house. These platforms became especially popular during the height of the whaling industry throughout New England ports such as Edgartown on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

With its deep and protected harbor, Edgartown became the whaling capital of the island sending “countless sailors all over the world from its port.” These sailors were often at sea for months and years at a time. It is said the widow’s walk served as an elevated vantage point for seamen’s wives to survey the harbor for their husbands’ arrival. Sadly, many never returned, leaving their anxious wives widows.

A captain's house on the water with a widow's walk
“The faithful and dedicated wife, performing her daily circumambulations on the cold and lonely widow’s walk: The next sail to top the horizon may well carry her husband, gone to sea these many years…” – The Fisherman’s Voice (Image courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard Museum)

The widow’s walk conjures a nostalgic, poetic image where women paced, watched, and mourned their missing husbands at sea. However, some historians believe this idea may be rooted more in folklore than reality. They maintain that widow’s walks were designed with a practical and decidedly less romantic purpose in mind: firefighting. Chimney fires were a common and dangerous reality in the 1800s when homes were heated primarily by wood. Families would often store buckets of sand (and sometimes water) to pour down the chimney in case of fire – and the widow’s walk provided an access platform to the chimney openings.

The Kelley House in Edgartown
The widow’s walk on Edgartown’s iconic Kelley House was positioned adjacent to both its large chimneys. (Image courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard Museum)

There exists a third school of thought, which states there was a less practical reason these structures became so popular. The argument goes that wealthy sea captains believed the viewing platforms were an emotionally satisfying feature to have on their homes. They symbolized wealth and quietly said, “I can admire the source of my fortune (the sea) and survey my ships coming and going from the comfort of my home.”

View of South Water Street from the harbor side featuring captain's homes with widow's walks (including Captain Grafton Collins' House) around 1890.
View of South Water Street from the harbor side featuring captain’s homes with widow’s walks (including Captain Grafton Collins’ House) around 1890. (Image courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard Museum)

There likely wasn’t one single purpose for widow’s walks; it appears they served different functions and ornamentation depending on the homeowner. However, today, many of our homes continue to include this classic coastal detail, which honors the romance and history of New England’s vernacular architecture and instills a historically correct sense of nostalgia.

Celebrating Historic Faneuil Hall

Celebrating Historic Faneuil Hall

An iconic symbol of urban revitalization

This week marks the 43rd anniversary of the grand reopening of Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace. As a young architect, Patrick had the privilege of being part of the lead design team at Benjamin Thompson Associates who helped transform and revitalize the building from a disused shell into a festival urban marketplace that today attracts over 18 million yearly visitors. As described in our book, Timeless, the lessons learned while working on Faneuil Hall had an influential and lasting impact on Patrick’s overall design philosophy throughout his career.

Originally built in 1742, Faneuil Hall was gifted to the city by Boston’s wealthiest merchant, Peter Faneuil, who felt the city was in need of a public meetinghouse. The building provided a platform for public speech, including several by Samuel Adams and James Otis who supported America’s independence from Great Britain. Further enhancing its historical significance, it was the site where American colonists established the doctrine “no taxation without representation.”

Faneuil Hall hosted our county’s first town meeting and played an important part of politics during the American Revolution.

While Faneuil Hall served as a robust, public meetinghouse, it was also home to meat and produce salesmen, along with fishermen and other merchants. In 1826, the area was expanded to include Quincy Market to accommodate increased public demand.

The building continued as a vital and vibrant destination throughout the 1800s but fell into marked disrepair in the mid-1900s. Somewhat abandoned, the once-thriving space was set to be demolished until in the early 1970s a passionate group of Bostonians united with a plan to preserve and restore the marketplace.

A 10-foot bronze statue of Kevin White located along Congress Street near Faneuil Hall

Through the vision of the Rouse Company (the designated developer), Boston Mayor Kevin White (who secured bank financing), and architectural firm Benjamin Thompson, the centuries-old building would not just be saved, it would be reinvented.

This was a pioneering moment in terms of urban revitalization. While working on Benjamin Thompson’s lead design team, Patrick created a project “script” which weaved together a story of past and present. Long before computer drawings, he hand drew the animated streetscapes and cobblestone walkways, then blew them up to present to developers and city stakeholders as large wallpaper “experiences.” The design team created multimedia slide shows with aspirational images of kids on bikes, food stalls and flower vendors to demonstrate how the space could be an active urban marketplace with yearlong cultural, retail and culinary experiences. Their firm won the project and ultimately helped change the face of downtown Boston.

The lessons of that design experience are vast and continue to influence Patrick’s approach to work today. He learned that creating a script for a project proved one of the most important and effective ways to remake a building. Today, whether preserving a historic home or re-imagining a classically inspired new build, developing a meaningful narrative concept remains an essential step in his design process.

Another lasting lesson is recognizing and appreciating that the spaces between and around buildings are as important as the buildings themselves. In the case of Faneuil Hall, the buildings became the backdrop to animated cobblestone streetscapes and the garage-style doors on the sides of the building – raised in the warmer months – helped create a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors. This influenced the value he continues to place on creating easy alfresco living options for homeowners today.

Patrick’s work on Faneuil Hall significantly influenced his overall modern approach to space and building design. Creating a “spine” within a building offers both organizational structure and design fluidity. Designing interiors off of a central axis helps create an open and usable flow by connecting the rooms of a house from front to back or side to side. Not to be confused with hallways, these spines are “more like galleries, filled with life and art and meant to be enjoyed.” They are designed to pull you through the house with interesting views that entice exploration and – like Faneuil Hall – deliver an experience.

Today, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which won the Twenty-five Year AIA Award and stands as a U.S. National Landmark, is often described as “the home of free speech.” We celebrate the anniversary of its iconic, grand reopening with great appreciation for the design lessons it provided – and we wish it a glorious 43rd re-birthday.

Weekends with Yankee

A Sneak Peak: Weekends with Yankee films with Patrick Ahearn

In historic Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard

The series Weekends with Yankee is distributed by American Public Television and airs nationally in over 90% of US markets.

We recently had the pleasure of filming an episode of Weekends with Yankee in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. Weekends with Yankee, a collaboration of the public media powerhouse WGBH and Yankee Magazine, asked us to highlight some of the town’s hidden, historic gems with their Public Television audience – and we were delighted to do so. Today we’ll share some of the day’s filming highlights and provide a preview of what’s to come this spring.

The WGBH crew interview Ahearn in his Edgartown office.
The WGBH crew interview Ahearn in his Edgartown office.

We met the WGBH crew bright and early at one of the Edgartown’s most historic residences, blacksmith John Coffin’s House, which was built on the town harbor in 1682. The current homeowners (who refer to themselves as stewards, not owners) were generous enough to share their morning with us describing our careful and collaborative restoration of the main house and reimagining of the additional outbuildings – all inspired by archival research. A stunning home in Edgartown’s historic district, the John Coffin house is truly an island gem.

John Coffin House
The historic John Coffin House: over 80 percent of the wood we used in its restoration dates back to 1682.

Next, we toured Edgartown’s historic Carnegie building with Vineyard Trust president and CEO Funi Burdick who described the building’s important role representing and communicating the work of the Trust. Many do not realize that the Trust owns, preserves and operates 20 historic island landmarks, “restoring living institutions to their rightful place in island life.” The Carnegie is among the most treasured landmarks in town and represents an important and historically significant restoration project for us.

Funi Burdick and Yankee Publisher Brook Holmberg discuss the iconic Trust property, Flying Horses, the oldest working carousel in the country.
The Vineyard Gazette
The Gazette has been Martha’s Vineyards paper of choice for centuries and was named Newspaper of the Year eight times by the New England Press Association.

After a lively lunch at Rosewater, we walked down South Summer Street to film with Jane Seagrave, the publisher of The Vineyard Gazette and Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. Founded in 1846, The Gazette resides in the heart of the residential historic district – and literally lives and breaths beside its island neighbors. Ms. Seagrave discussed what it means to work with this historic newspaper, housed within one of Vineyard Trust’s historic properties, and she even ran the paper’s 150 year old press for us during the shoot.

The final part of our day was spent shooting at one of our first design commissions in Edgartown – a classically inspired new build that the homeowners graciously opened up to us. To make newly built houses feel authentic, we create a script that explains the design in historically accurate terms. We were all delighted when the crew asked about this “beautiful renovation” because, as intended, they had no idea it was not centuries old.

Ahearn with friend and homeowner Josh McCall reminisce about working together on the home’s design.

Sharing some of Edgartown’s historic gems with the crew of Weekends with Yankee was indeed a great pleasure. They were a delight to work with and we look forward to seeing this special episode next spring. Stayed tuned for air dates!

Outdoor Entertaining

Outdoor Entertaining

Summertime: when alfresco is in

Summer is the time for alfresco entertaining and is the season we use our outdoor living space to its fullest. Whether it’s a large affair on the grill or a small, informal gathering, there is a special ease to outdoor entertaining that we treasure during these fleeting months of summer.

The term alfresco is derived from Italian meaning “ in the open air,” and while it can refer to any outdoor activity, it’s most often associated with dining.

We frequently discuss the importance of easy indoor-outdoor living with our clients and detail various design solutions in our book, Timeless. Many of our clients want homes that feel intimate, yet are ready to entertain large groups year-round – especially in the summertime.

Creating an easy transition from indoors to out makes alfresco entertaining seamless for homeowners. We regularly activate ground floors by connecting them directly to the home’s outdoor living spaces. A first-floor room may open directly to a covered porch which transitions effortlessly to a pool terrace – becoming an outdoor dining room of its own.

Depending on the program, we often create layers of outdoor spaces that offer homeowners lively, multifunctional gathering options. Sometimes that means designing an outdoor kitchen and fireplace alongside a large dining area, while also creating more intimate, hidden seating spaces to enjoy with smaller groups.

Some of our clients wish to integrate lawn games into their outdoor entertaining repertoire. In such cases, we like to create an easy connection between the lawn area and the grilling, beverage, and dining spaces.

This two-way fireplace in the outdoor kitchen provides an inviting connection between the bocce court and dining area

When summer evening temperatures drop, that does not mean that outdoor entertaining must come to an end. Warm and inviting flames from an outdoor fireplace (or fire pit) offer a wonderful place to congregate. Homeowners can encourage guests to linger by bringing blankets outside or toasting marshmallows over the fire. Candlelit tables and outdoor lighting also enhance the inviting ambiance.

Well-designed outdoor entertaining areas can be as comfortable and inviting as their indoor counterparts. With layered spaces and easy access to grilling and entertaining, outdoor living areas provide boundless opportunities for alfresco fun.

Pool Cabanas

Pool Cabanas

Beauty and Versatility

With August in full swing, many of us are enjoying our outdoor living spaces as much as possible. Last week, we discussed the ways in which a homeowner’s pool area serves as a focal point for outdoor living and entertaining. This week, we will focus on the pool’s essential companion – the wonderful and functional cabana.

Shingle-style pool cabana in Edgartown

Pool cabanas serve multiple roles within the outside living area. As a separate, nearby building, they offer convenient privacy and protection from the sun for swimmers (and loungers).

Additionally, they afford homeowners with easy, accessible storage and changing space for bathing suits and towels. This means fewer wet towels making their way into the house – and for people with young families, an end to wet kids running inside in search of dry towels.

We design our cabanas as small buildings that work in harmony with the main house and other outbuildings. Some are beautifully simple with limited adornment, while others are more detailed, mirroring specific architectural details of the main home.

The cabana’s interior layout and amenities are dictated by the individual needs of each homeowner. Some cabanas are designed with classic, cozy sitting areas and folding glass doors to create a seamless progression to the outdoors, while others include more elaborate amenities such as kitchenettes, fireplaces and half baths for convenient indoor-outdoor entertaining. No matter the layout, careful attention to details ensures that the cabana remains connected to the tone and history of the house, and effortlessly transitions to the outdoor living space.

While some New England cabanas are used strictly in the summer months, many homeowners take advantage of this inviting outdoor destination year-round. With a cozy fireplace and comfortable seating, where better to warm up after a winter hike?

Pool cabanas represent a wonderful marriage between beauty and versatility. Whether rustic or refined, the cabana is a relaxing poolside retreat offering protection from the sun and a harmonious connection between indoor and outdoor living.

Pool Time

Pool Time

The Summer Spot to Cool Off and Entertain

With New England’s recent heatwave, residential swimming pools have been a topical subject among our friends and clients. Not only do they offer convenient, inviting relief from the summer heat, they also provide homeowners with a focal point for outdoor living and entertaining.

There are myriad options for pool design, and we take our cues from several sources. Because the pool is an extension of the home, we first consider the building’s architectural character. We then look at the outdoor topography for any space restrictions, and whether the area lends itself to a certain shape or design. If we envision a more organic feel, the pool may take on a free-form shape to blend with the outdoor environment. Alternately, if the space calls for a more traditional or sleek look, we may recommend a rectangular design.

When appropriate, we may also include an infinity design where the water flows freely over the edges. These vanishing edges give the visual impression that the pool has no boundaries – or is magically connected to the nearby ocean.

If the homeowner has an extended family with children or grandparents, we often design the pool with a wide entry and gentle pitch for easy access.

For all designs, we recommend using gunite for its exceptional versatility. Gunite is a mixture of sand and cement shot through a hose and does not produce seams like traditional, poured concrete.

No matter the size or shape of the pool, it is important to create an inviting common gathering space to be enjoyed day or night. That means judicious consideration of hardscaping, lighting, and congregation areas. To merge the indoor and outdoor living space, we use bluestone edges or coping to blend in with the adjacent patio or terrace.

We also carefully select the pool’s lighting, which sets an important tone, particularly in the evening. Including fun and welcoming gathering spots – such as hot tubs and fire pits – helps transform the pool area into the optimal summer gathering space.

Water features are also meaningful elements – both aesthetically and from a functional standpoint. For example, within an urban setting or dense courtyard, the soothing sounds of waterfalls or jet sprays help create a sense of relaxation and privacy.

A well-designed pool area can transform any outdoor living space into a summer oasis. Whether lounging our entertaining, a pool and its surrounding outdoor space provide homeowners with a wonderful sensory experience – and a welcome relief from the summer heat.

The Classic and Sporty Moke

The Classic and Sporty Moke

PAA goes green with e-Moke

Some things effortlessly match the feeling and lifestyle of their environment. Case in point: the Moke. It is the ideal little vehicle for island living. Stylish and beachy, it’s the car you may have seen on vacation and wondered about. Moke is the perfect package of laid back, wrapped-in-fun, tied with an emissions-free ribbon. It immediately says: “summertime.”

When first designing the car, The British Motor Company (BMC) turned to Alec Issigonis, the “father” of the original Austin Mini.

We recently purchased an e-Moke for getting around the village of Edgartown. Not only is it fun and uncomplicated, it’s electric – a wonderful bonus. When designing or restoring homes, we often look for environmentally sound, green options, so finding this sporty, electric Moke was great. Charge the battery overnight, and it will run for around 40 miles. That means no stops at the gas station heading to job sites or the office. And, it doesn’t require any cumbersome hook-up; just plug it into any household outlet and you’re good to go.

John Temerian, the managing partner for Moke USA, states, “Interest level for bringing these to the U.S. has been wild.”

The British Motor Corporation (BMR) first produced the Moke in the late 1950s as a portable military vehicle, and in 1963 a civilian version was launched in the UK. It eventually became a cult favorite in areas like the Caribbean and Australia as a beach cruiser. The Moke seats four, and because it’s small and customizable, it can be easily designed to fit your needs. Add a Bimini top or a surf rack and hit the waves.

The e-Moke is customizable and comes in 8 colors.

The Moke is a street-legal, which means it is approved by the NHTSA and conforms to all government requirements. Considered a Low Speed Vehicle (LSV), the Moke is perfect for short commutes, quick errands, or beach drop-offs. Low to the ground with a maximum speed of 25, this is a no-rush, enjoy-the-ride car.

Ready for work: PAA’s no emission e-Moke.

We look forward to our summertime commute in this no-emission vehicle that fits perfectly with Vineyard living. Maybe we will see you around town.

Classic Exterior Shutters

Classic Exterior Shutters

Accents that matter

A building’s exterior shutters were originally designed for functionality. Today, however, their role is most often visual – like an accessory for the home. When shutters are designed as part of the overall exterior, they play an important role in establishing the correct solid to void relationship on each façade. The shutters are considered part of the window ensemble – another layer of information to the home’s façade and an architectural detail that pulls everything together.

Originally, shutters were designed to control light, provide privacy, and help protect a home from the outside elements. Historians believe shutters were first used in Ancient Greece and were constructed of marble with fixed louvers. The use of shutters quickly spread, and the material of choice became wood.

Solid paneled shutters were called “shutters” and the louvered shutters we see today with angled horizontal slats were called “blinds.” In the late 1700s, louvered shutters came into use and were particularly favored in warmer climates. Operable with functional hinges, they could easily swing closed to minimize heat, while still allowing air to circulate into the house. Louvers added another layer of functionality: by pointing downward, they help shed water away from the home during rainstorms.

An example of paneled shutters
An example of louvered shutters

By the early 1800s, many windows were fitted with exterior shutters, which were typically painted either dark green, or a shade of green that weathered to a deeper hue. Shutters were opened and closed daily to provide shade or to protect from oncoming storms (storm windows had not yet been invented). When closed, these shutters fully covered the window and were as important then as window screens are today.

Today, shutters remain a classic fixture in historic homes and are considered an integral part of many window designs. Since shutters are rarely used for their original function, many homes have turned to decorative, inoperable shutters. We strongly believe in using operable shutters for historical accuracy. Based on traditional architecture, we typically size our shutters to fully cover and accept the window opening and match the vertical dimension of the window’s frame.

The shutters on this Greek Revival mirror the shape of the windows

Exterior shutter hardware – including proper pins and holdbacks – provides aesthetic authenticity to operable shutters. We use functional hinges (typically New York Style) and appropriate holdbacks (shutter dogs) on all of our shutter installations. In addition to authenticity, mounting the shutters away from the siding builds space and dimension for visually appealing shadow lines.

Acorn Manufacturing Company is a fantastic manufacturer and distributor of forged iron hardware, and they are local, in Mansfield, MA.

A classic “S” holdback

Exterior shutters have evolved over the centuries – both in function and materials. Today, PVC shutters are accepted because they are durable, easy to maintain, and appear historically accurate. While shutters no longer play the functional role they once did, they continue to provide another layer of information to the façade of each home: they are a classic accent that matters.

Independence Day 2019

Independence Day 2019

Celebrating on Cape Cod and The Islands

“It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade….with illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” John Adams to his wife Abigail of the Declaration of Independence.

Today marks our country’s 243rd birthday, and we will celebrate with fanfare and family fun. Many of us will attend parades, host cookouts, and watch beautiful fireworks displays. It is a wonderful time for Americans to commemorate our country’s freedom – and what better place to celebrate than Cape Cod and the Islands?

While we are partial to Martha’s Vineyard (our second office is located here), celebrations on Cape Cod and Nantucket are wonderfully festive and perennially well attended. Though we can’t cover them all, we will highlight a few events and fun facts for this special holiday.

If you are visiting the Upper Cape, you may be interested to know that Falmouth is the hometown of Katherine Lee Bates, who wrote, “America the Beautiful.” Falmouth is also a great place to watch the fireworks; in fact, it was voted one of the 10 best fireworks displays in the country by Travel and Leisure Magazine. Their display goes off over Falmouth Heights Beach at Dusk.

Fun fact: In 1781, Massachusetts was the first state to recognize Independence Day as a holiday.

If you are celebrating on the Lower or Outer Cape, from Wellfleet to Chatham, there are several fabulous parades to choose from. One of our favorites is Chatham. In addition to its village charm, Chatham happens to have one of the oldest Independence Day Parades in the United States attracting over 20,000 people each year. This year’s parade starts at 9:30 AM on Main Street. In the evening, Wequassett Resort & Golf Club presents a spectacular fireworks display from a barge in Pleasant Bay (shared with the private golf course, Eastward Ho! Country Club). Their Family Gala celebration offers “family-friendly waterfront dining on the terraces and lawn with great music, dancing, and a sumptuous buffet.” For those looking for a more intimate setting, you’ll find the best seats are from the water as hundreds of boats line the horizon to watch the show.

Fun fact: Our flag’s current design was chosen in 1960 (only the number of stars have changed in our flag’s design history).

If Osterville is your destination, you will have many options for local parades and fireworks to enjoy. Parades in surrounding villages are staggered beginning at 9 AM in Barnstable, 10 AM in Centerville, 11 AM in Cotuit and Hyannisport, finishing at 2 PM with the Hyannis Inner Harbor Boat Parade. A favorite area fireworks display is in Hyannis beginning at 9 PM over the harbor. If you miss that one and have a boat, you can enjoy Oyster Harbors Club’s fireworks from the water on July 5th.

Ray Ellis, the artist, with his painted cow in the Edgartown parade in 1999

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to be on Martha’s Vineyard celebrating July 4th, you can expect fantastic weather and boundless holiday festivities. Starting at 2 PM, Vineyard Trust will host concerts and a clambake on Main Street in Edgartown. The iconic afternoon parade featuring marching bands and classic cars takes place at 5 PM, followed by a magnificent fireworks display on the harbor at 9 PM. Fireworks are launched from the water between Chappaquiddick and Edgartown so find some space at Fuller Beach, on a dock along the harbor – or better yet, on a boat – and enjoy this amazing show.

Watch the parade go by while enjoying a BBQ provided by MV Clambake on the lawns of the Dr. Daniel Fisher House

Each year, the traditions of July 4th bring us together with others to create rich and meaningful rhythms in our lives. We are grateful for all the men and women who have helped keep America the land of the free, and we wish you all a safe and spectacular holiday.

The Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill Tour & Soirée 2019

The Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill Tour & Soirée 2019

Rain-or-shine… and it was shine!

For the second year in a row, we’ve had the pleasure of sponsoring the Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill Tour & Soirée. This is the largest and most important fundraiser for The Beacon Hill Garden Club, and this year marked its 91st tour. While this spring was unseasonably wet and chilly, the Tour and evening Soirée enjoyed rare days of glorious sunshine – making the experience all the more wonderful.

Tour-goers on the Hill (Credit: Amy Wilson)

The Beacon Hill Garden Club has a long and storied history. In 1928, twenty Beacon Hill residents who shared a love of their neighborhood and a passion for horticulture formed the Beacon Hill Garden Club. Their goal was simple: they wanted to improve their beloved Boston niche. During this period following the great depression, described as “the Golden Age of postwar exuberance,” Beacon Hill was rejuvenated as a desirable neighborhood, and many families arrived or returned to purchase and restore area homes.

Chestnut Street Garden (Credit Amy Wilson)

One of the features many of these homes shared was a walled outdoor area once used as a “laundry yard.” When restoring their own, outdated laundry yards, Club founders, including Gertrude Beals Bourne (described as the moving force in the club’s founding) discovered the joy and beauty a garden could bring to their outdoor living space. The following year they hosted the first tour of the Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill.

The Sunflower Castle on Mt Vernon Street, home of BHGC founder Gertrude Beals Bourne (Credit Amy Wilson)

Today, the Beacon Hill Garden Club enjoys a thriving membership of 60+ neighborhood residents who own and maintain a hidden outdoor garden. Members agree to show their gardens every 3 to 5 years, which keeps the tour interesting and fresh for the roughly 2,000 visitors who attend each year.

The live band at the Soiree

We chatted with club president, Kate Enroth, about what makes the club so enduring, and what keeps it so relevant within the Beacon Hill community. She explained that, because space in Beacon Hill is a premium, these gardens “become special rooms for the homeowners.” The gardens not only enable people to maximize their space, but they also provide an opportunity for individual, creative expression, which club members love sharing with tour attendees. Local shops also welcome the chance to have tourists in the neighborhood and sometimes offer store discounts to tour-goers – another example of the neighborhood community coming together for this special event.

Some homeowners have lovely statues they’ve collected intentionally for their garden space (Credit Bob O’Connor)
We were thrilled to see the unveiling of Myrtle the Turtle at the Myrtle Street playground – a special place we helped revitalize years ago for our children. The sculpture was designed by artist Nancy Schon of Make Way for Ducklings fame and was donated by the club last year to commemorate its 90th anniversary.

By sharing their gardens with the public, Beacon Hill Garden Club members bring together a wide spectrum of people. Some are serious, well-versed horticulturists, while others – perhaps without a green thumb – come to explore and appreciate the gardens and history of Beacon Hill. All attendees have one thing in common: by attending the tour, they are supporting a significant number of local non-profits. Each year, the funds raised from the tour are donated to approximately 40 Boston area organizations including The Rose Kennedy Greenway, The Esplanade Association, The Food Project, The Boston Nature Center, and Friends of the Public Garden, among others. These grants range from $500-$15,000 and represent important, meaningful contributions for all.

Attendees gather for drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the Soiree

More images from the Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill Tour & Soirée 2019