Jan. 26, 2011. Yesterday the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) voted to designate the Christian Science Plaza as a Landmark. If the Mayor of Boston and the City Council approve, the Landmark designation will be official sometime in the next six weeks.
The Church did not seek Landmark status; the process with the BLC began in 2007 when 15 residents of the Boston community filed a petition with the City to designate the Plaza as a Landmark. Massachusetts law can require a site to be landmarked if it meets several criteria, including the following, which the Plaza does meet: prominent association with important history, outstanding historic individuals, and notable architecture.
The BLC accepted an amendment to its Landmark documentation which states that designation is not intended to interfere with the free exercise of religion and that the BLC will respect the protection provided religious institutions under the US and Massachusetts constitutions and other statutory safeguards.
The designation will call for BLC approval of any new buildings on the Plaza, as well as changes to the exteriors of existing buildings and the open space. The designation does not impact the interior spaces of any buildings. It should be noted that the majority of new development currently being proposed by the Church is behind the former Colonnade Building (now 101 Belvidere Street) and across the street from the Hilton and Sheraton Hotels. This area is not within the Landmark boundaries and therefore will not be subject to BLC review (although the proposed new buildings will need approval from other City agencies).
Another provision in the Landmark documentation guides the BLC to take proposals included in the Church’s Plaza Revitalization Project into consideration. The Church plans to move forward to implement these proposals, which over the past several years have been reviewed in detail with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and by the Mayor’s Citizens Advisory Committee.
At the dedication service of the Original Mother Church, Mary Baker Eddy declared, “I love Boston, and especially the laws of the State whereof this city is the capital. To-day, as of yore, her laws have befriended progress” (Pulpit and Press, p. 7). Trusting that assurance, we look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with the Boston City government and our neighbors to ensure that our Church home welcomes and embraces Bostonians and global visitors well into the future.