Back Bay Fens Gate Houses
The Back Bay Fens Gate Houses are key elements of the Frederick Law Olmsted plan to reclaim the Back Bay Fens. The Olmsted project turned a foul, muddy swamp into a public amenity by diverting storm and sanitary runoff from the Stony Creek watershed through underground conduits. The gate houses contain sluice gates providing relief in storm events for the conduit system by releasing stormwater overflows to the Muddy River. The original gate house was designed by H. H. Richardson; the second was designed in 1905 by his successor firm, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge. Both are simple hip roofed buildings, but with a rich palette of Cape Ann and Quincy granite, slate roofs, and painted wood doors and trim.
This project included the replacement of still functioning sluice gates in Gate House 2 and the restoration of the architectural shells of both gate houses, including masonry, roofs, windows and doors. The restoration was designed to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s guidelines for preservation projects. Gate House 1 has recently been turned into a visitors center.
This project received the Boston Preservation Alliance award in 2006.
(Richard Smith was Project Architect for Stahl Associates and for Burt Hill)