BHAC Approves Hanging Sign for New Charles Street Hair Salon

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission voted unanimously to approve as submitted an application for a hanging sign for a new Charles Street hair salon at the commission’s monthly public gearing held virtually on Thursday, May 16.

​The applicant said the black, wood sign with carved, gold lettering would be adorned with the business name, ‘Fifteen Charles,’ above ‘The Salon,’ along with its year of establishment (i.e. ‘est. 2024’). The sign would measure 36-by-24 inches, with a thickness of between 1½-2 inches, said the applicant, who added it would use existing hardware and remain in the same spot.

​The determination for this application came with a proviso that the hardware used to hang the sign be black in color, as the applicant had already indicated was their intention.

​The commission denied without prejudice an application for a new, south-facing roofdeck at 54 Pinckney St., with a proviso that the applicant submit details to BHAC staff (Nicholas Armata) pertaining to the height of both proposed railing and for the covering material for the deck, as well as specifics on the location of the deck.

​In additional provisos for its determination on this application, the commission also requested that the applicant explore how visibility of the deck can be reduced , or preferably eliminated, via its reconfiguration and asked that the applicant submit drawing to staff showing  both the roof’s existing and proposed conditions.

​In another matter, the commission voted to continue an application to replace non-historic windows at 27 Chestnut St., which came with an amendment made by Chair Mark Kiefer, that given some commissioners’ concerns with the proposal, would allow the applicant more time to explore other options with their client.

​(Commissioner Maurice Finegold recused himself from this matter while other commissioners present, including Chair Kiefer, Vice Chair Arian Allen, and Commissioners Edward Fleck, Annette Given, Ralph Jackson, Alice Richmond,  and Sandra Steele, all voted to continue the application.)

​The commission voted unanimously to deny without prejudice an extensive application for 46 Chestnut St., to allow the applicant sufficient time to install mockups of the proposed replacement mansard with its raised height on both the front and rear facades.

​Chair Kiefer expressed some concern with the proportions of the windows proposed for the new mansard, as well as with its new raised height.

​“Why does it have to get taller?” Chair Kier asked the applicant. He also inquired if they could lower the height of the windows without making the replacement mansard any taller.

​Chair Kiefer had additional concerns when it came to the applicant’s request to enlarge the windows on the building’s side façade.

​A proposed slight enlargement of the garage door “seems fine” though, said Chair Kiefer.

​Besides extensive exterior painting, the project proposed the replacement and realignment of the building’s myriad and disparate windows. Staff (Armata) expressed some concern regarding the windows request, however, saying that many of them are in “remarkable condition” and should remain in place.

​On a violation for an unapproved paint color change at 80 Beacon St., the commission unanimously voted (except for Commission Finegold, who was experiencing technical difficulties and couldn’t vote) to dismiss the violation and approve a new paint color, leaving it to fade, on the south-facing window.

The new paint color selected was Andover Cream, identified by Historic New England as appropriate for this type of building, circa 1945, according to Armata.

The commission reviewed a violation for 147-149 Charles St., with proposed work including the unapproved removal of a party wall, roof, and chimney, as well as removal of the decorative  frieze and non-historic awning. The violation also included the unapproved addition of a mechanical headhouse visible from Charles Street, and the ‘incorrect’ installation of three-over-three windows on the upper level, with a six-over-six grid pattern.

During public comment, District 8 City Councilor Sharon Durkan said she was dismayed by to see such inferior work, which could “degrade [the neighborhood’s] historic fabric.”

“Charles Street is a jewel of our community…and I’m disheartened by everything that’s taken place,” said Councilor Durkan, who added that the work had also apparently resulted in the displacement of Beacon Hill Cleaners at 151 Charles St.

Thomas Curran, an attorney for the applicant, called allegations made regarding work done at the rear of the building “unfounded” and said that plans now call for flattening the roof and placing mechanicals atop it.​

Chair Kiefer described the building as a “rare survivor” of the early 19th-century Federal style in the neighborhood, as well as a structure that deserves “stricter scrutiny.” He added the building currently has at least one  city ‘stop work order’ on it.

​Staff (Armata) said the city is now withholding the occupancy certificate for the property until matters are resolved with the BHAC; and that the original permit had been signed off on by the Boston Landmarks Commission.

​Once the parapet and chimney are restored to their original dimensions using as much original brick as possible, minimum visibility for the headhouse would need to be established, said Chair Kiefer.

​Chair Kiefer proposed approving the application but not dismissing the violation. The applicant would also be issued a remedial citation “requiring evidence that the job is done properly and the matter is addressed” within 90 days, added Chair Kiefer.

​Furthermore, Chair Kiefer said a roof violation would remain, although the remedial action order includes that violation.

​Meanwhile, an application for 7 West Cedar St. to enlarge the window for egress appeared on the agenda but ultimately wasn’t heard at the hearing.

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