St. Gabriel Monastery | Washington St | Brighton

fattony

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Re: St. Gabriel Monastery Washington St Brighton

Love it! Great concept, great location.
 

ErnieAdams

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The monastery buildings make up a beautiful complex and anybody who hasn't been up to see it should make time for a little passive urbex (no looking for open doors, people!!) and check it out before it changes. The very top of that hill has 180-degree views to the skyline, New Balance, and the Arsenal. The chapel side of the monastery pictured above isn't much to write home about, but the back side is more interesting and I think the whole thing is well worth saving. Here's a picture from 8 years ago; adjust forward for continued neglect.


St. Gabriel's Monastery by Aaron Knox, on Flickr

One wonders what St. E's is going to do about employee parking. They just sold off more than half of their employee spaces, in that lot north of the monastery. It's completely full every single weekday. Looks like they kept a satellite lot on the far side of the complex that backs up to the Fidelis Way project, but that's not nearly enough to meet their weekday demand. Employees park cheap but not free, something like $8 per week last I heard. The garages are for patients and execs, and maybe they're never full but I very much doubt that. One or both of them could stand to be expanded or rebuilt, but both are accessible only from Warren Street and not from Washington like the employee lot. If hundreds of extra cars suddenly try to use that entrance instead of the monastery driveway, that Cambridge/Warren/Sparhawk intersection will be an unmitigated and unmitigatable disaster. Look for the neighborhood to make quite a bit of noise over that, and that's without building a single unit of housing. The developer and Steward will really have to cooperate to work that point out.

All in all, though, looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Eleven acres in the city limits! Can't snap that up just every day, unless you're Harvard of course. And this housing concept could be a regional game-changer if they pull it off.
 

metasyntactic

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Sounds like a great idea! Finding housing can be tricky for grad students due to the relatively low stipends (35k or lower is common) and desire to live near work without having to deal with undergrads. Also monastic living seems oddly appropriate for grad students.

I was amused by this comparison:

Doherty said his company will try to set rents significantly lower than many “luxury” apartment buildings that have recently opened in Boston, where two-bedrooms can start as high as $4,000 a month even in outlying neighborhoods such as Jamaica Plain.
Grad students are usually not looking for two bedrooms. More common are studios/one beds or renting out larger units and splitting. Good to see new construction that's aimed at lower prices, but the market that they're competing in isn't against other new construction but against old construction in the $1000/room or less range.
 

whighlander

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Sounds like a great idea! Finding housing can be tricky for grad students due to the relatively low stipends (35k or lower is common) and desire to live near work without having to deal with undergrads. Also monastic living seems oddly appropriate for grad students.

I was amused by this comparison:



Grad students are usually not looking for two bedrooms. More common are studios/one beds or renting out larger units and splitting. Good to see new construction that's aimed at lower prices, but the market that they're competing in isn't against other new construction but against old construction in the $1000/room or less range.
Metasyntactic -- for proper grad student housing what is needed are just more of the "cells the monks occupied" or in a pinch a military barracks -- especially for a student writing at the end -- you just live with your work for about a year.

If you are desperate however a two bedroom will house about 3 to 5 graduate students depending on how friendly they are and how well the kitchen is organized.[1]

What the developer ought to do is build some high-price [maybe not quite uber] with nice finishes and such for some fat cat full profs especially the ones with fat consulting contracts. Then build 2X as many for the associates without tenure and assistant profs that are half as nice or half as large and then build 4X as many studio=types for post docs with 1/4 as nice features.

The rest of the place then could house lots of grad students and the developer wouldn't be losing too much money.

Twelve acres should be able to house 1000 grad students quite easily with 25 to 40 faculty to pay the freight.

You might even throw in a few uber penthouses for a handful of successful entrepreneurs who want to stay close to academics.

You could give a classy name such as St. Benedict's College [or St. Gabriel's] and make everyone eat once a week in a big refectory.

[1] at one time I lived in one room of a big old house [10 or so rooms] with about 15 other graduate students and one grossly over used kitchen.
 

Czervik.Construction

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$4000 per month for a 2 bed in outlying Boston neighborhoods? What? You can get small 2-beds in Manhattan for $4500. That $4K number seems way high to me.
 

tangent

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I dislike old churches and chapels being used as ornamental architecture for apartments. It is disrespectful. Either keep the chapel as a chapel or bulldoze it.
 

whighlander

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I dislike old churches and chapels being used as ornamental architecture for apartments. It is disrespectful. Either keep the chapel as a chapel or bulldoze it.
Tangent -- come on -- even St Benedict would approve of the reuse -- if the place built for the monks is used for graduate students

Grad students are the closest thing today [in the secular world] to new initiates in a traditional monastery say 1000 years ago

While the monastic orders mostly were into preservation of the knowledge-base created by the ancients until such time as it would be useful again[1] -- the modern grad student is all about creating the new Knowledge Base -- how it is to be treated by posterity is unknown and unknowable

So let the graduate students appreciate / enjoy? the quasi/pseudo neo-medieval monastic calming aesthetics as they drive us relentlessly into the future!


[1] there were of course quite a few new contributions provided by monks of many orders while they were doing their preservation work -- one notable one was the several hundred years of work [1400 - 1600] leading up to the Gregorian Calendar, another notable one was the invention of modern farming methods by Cistercian monks
 
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ErnieAdams

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I dislike old churches and chapels being used as ornamental architecture for apartments. It is disrespectful. Either keep the chapel as a chapel or bulldoze it.
If the church's governing body has desanctified the building and sold it, nobody's being disrespectful. The reuse is being invited and encouraged. Besides, the people make the church and not the building, as I'm sure you can find stated more eloquently in Matthew's gospel or in the equivalent text of any of a number of other religions.

And I'd rather have the church building reused for at least three reasons. One, it's a perfectly good building and there's no need to waste it. Two, it's bound to be a nicer or at least a more interesting building from the outside than what could be developed from the ground up today. Three, if there is any history attached to it, it's nice not to throw the baby out with the bath water. St. Aidan's in North Brookline is a great example. New housing went up in a dense neighborhood, some of it affordable, while the church building where JFK was baptized (and on a personal note, where my great-great aunt was married) gets to stay on the National Park Service's walking tour of the neighborhood around the birthplace site. The very definition of win-win. If they can do it on a larger scale here, which by the way has been owned for this whole decade not by the archdiocese or a religious order but by a hedge fund, then it's a home run.
 

fattony

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Metasyntactic -- for proper grad student housing what is needed are just more of the "cells the monks occupied" or in a pinch a military barracks -- especially for a student writing at the end -- you just live with your work for about a year.

If you are desperate however a two bedroom will house about 3 to 5 graduate students depending on how friendly they are and how well the kitchen is organized.[1]

[1] at one time I lived in one room of a big old house [10 or so rooms] with about 15 other graduate students and one grossly over used kitchen.
That is patently ridiculous. The vast majority of grads live one to a bedroom (unless they are coupled-up, obviously) in normal apartments or houses. Of course some students live in big co-ops like that, and maybe a tiny tiny fraction of foreigners share bedrooms, but it is hardly common and it is not a model to follow for solving our graduate student housing woes.

I don't know why I bothered to type this post.
 

tangent

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Tangent -- come on -- even St Benedict would approve of the reuse -- if the place built for the monks is used for graduate students

Grad students are the closest thing today [in the secular world] to new initiates in a traditional monastery say 1000 years ago

While the monastic orders mostly were into preservation of the knowledge-base created by the ancients until such time as it would be useful again[1] -- the modern grad student is all about creating the new Knowledge Base -- how it is to be treated by posterity is unknown and unknowable

So let the graduate students appreciate / enjoy? the quasi/pseudo neo-medieval monastic calming aesthetics as they drive us relentlessly into the future!


[1] there were of course quite a few new contributions provided by monks of many orders while they were doing their preservation work -- one notable one was the several hundred years of work [1400 - 1600] leading up to the Gregorian Calendar, another notable one was the invention of modern farming methods by Cistercian monks
Saying it is just for grad students is probably marketing BS. Nobody is going to be checking enrollment status every semester. It is a private developer making small apartments for single people.

Granted it isn't technically sacrilegious, but rather is merely offensive to gut a church and make apartments. Both religiously offensive to the historical meaning of that space and architecturally.

I'd feel different if the use of the chapel space was to still be used as a meeting hall even if it was nonreligious. But if all you are going to do is keep a facade and gut every bit of function and context, then that facade shouldn't be a church because it isn't a church.
 

whighlander

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That is patently ridiculous. The vast majority of grads live one to a bedroom (unless they are coupled-up, obviously) in normal apartments or houses. Of course some students live in big co-ops like that, and maybe a tiny tiny fraction of foreigners share bedrooms, but it is hardly common and it is not a model to follow for solving our graduate student housing woes.

I don't know why I bothered to type this post.
FT -- It was a bit tongue in cheek -- however my living in the big old roach infested house as a graduate student circa mid 1970's was quite real -- I believe that it cost me $110 / month

That would translate roughly in today's dollars to $880 -- for which I had about 500 square feet in a wing essentially separate from the rest of the house although I did share the overused kitchen and I only stayed there for 1 year out of my 6 as a grad student

My next two places were two bedroom apartments which I shared with a colleague from my lab

My brother who was a grad student at MIT circa early 1980's shared his place with 5 other guys in a house in Cambridge with 3 bedrooms with bunk beds

You would be surprised how many graduate students accommodate themselves in such a manner

Since the serious graduate student spends most of their time in the lab or library [even today] the habitation is really just a crash-pad -- I had a cot in my office at U of Texas for really late experimental runs
 

bostonbred

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sayinG OLDE unsles grantDAD was capSIzED there STAIDans
 

ErnieAdams

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Time will tell whether I should have bumped this thread or the general A/B thread, but apparently a proposal is being floated for up to 300 additional units at 139 Washington, the site adjacent to this one. This is the site of (1) a satellite campus for St. John's Seminary, the last remaining archdiocesan presence in this block as far as I can recall, and (2) yet more St. E's employee parking. The city assessor still shows that the archdiocese is the owner. Universal Hub has this off of a B/A Civic Association agenda for a meeting to be held tomorrow. I jumped into the comments down there, but neither Adam nor anyone else seems to have any info.

Just in case this was the wrong thread for the new project, some relatively on-topic news: Steward is currently undertaking an employee parking study to figure out where they're going to put employee parking once their two large surface lots are consumed by the new development(s). Apparently at least one of the two garages in the hospital complex was built to be expanded upward someday (you can see the flat-topped external support columns ringing the garage on Google Maps here). Employees with parking passes have been told to hang color-coded placards from their rear-view mirrors. Not sure what exactly they are measuring, but it certainly makes sense that they're trying to get some data. I'll say again that if they try to move all that surface parking into the garages, they will definitely need to punch an access road up the hill from Washington. Right now you can only get to those garages from Warren, and it would be a civic disaster to try to send all those cars to that single entrance.

[ETA: Yes, the overhead view does show vehicular access from Washington right now, but there are two problems: (1) it's not currently open to regular traffic, employee or otherwise, probably in part because the curve down to Washington is tight and steep; and (2) Steward sold the 250 or so feet of that driveway closest to the road along with the rest of the monastery. If anyone wants to check the deed to see if they retained an easement, be my guest, but I've already wasted enough productive time this afternoon!]
 

Jouhou

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I dislike old churches and chapels being used as ornamental architecture for apartments. It is disrespectful. Either keep the chapel as a chapel or bulldoze it.
Sorry to jump in on old arguments, but I concur that out of all the conversions we've seen lately, this one is by far the most respectful. Then again, I'm not religious so my perspective on it may be different. I have no opinion on the new news.
 

Reznor

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"Webster, who accused Doherty (developer) of repeatedly blinking at her as she talked, said he should come back with a plan for condos, which tend to have residents who care more about the neighborhood since they own their own units."
This woman couldn't even contain her crazy when given a chance to make a persuasive argument.
 

FK4

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Eva Webster of Brighton is one of the worst, bitchiest troglodytes of Boston's NIMBYs... She fought the Cleveland Circle project and ground it down to the retirement home disaster it's now becoming, and has opposed almost everything proposed in Brighton. She even tried to take down Maryanne's (google this idiot) and complained that the floor was too sticky! She represents everything bad about Boston's anti-development team. I hate Brighton... it totally typifies the insular, provincial Boston neighborhood mentality. Another guy in the article posted above complained that the parcel on Washington was "once a farm" as a reason to fight density. Yeah, so was everything else around here at one time. Wow.
 

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