Saturday, January 14, 2017

Beautiful Duckling

From Dave Brigham:

Like the sad main character in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Duckling," the building above has been neglected and abused over the years. Known as the Agassiz Road Duck House, this place has been boarded up since a 1986 fire.

I came across this building, in Boston's Back Bay Fens, while hanging out with my son, Owen. He's pretty into Pokemon Go, so every once in a while we pick a spot in Boston to check out. The Fens is a great area, with three war memorials, Victory Gardens (one of only two remaining in the U.S., according to Wikipedia), a soccer field, a few small ponds and nice walking paths. The area is also a well-known gay cruising spot, but I didn't feel the need to tell Owen about that.

The Duck House was built in 1897, and its exterior has not changed significantly since then, according to the Fenway Civic Association. The association, the City of Boston and other groups have discussed renovating and reopening the Duck House for years, tossing out ideas for reuse such as a ranger station, public bathroom and a cafe. The building was used as a restroom prior to the fire.

Turning a former public bathroom into a cafe might sound disgusting, but the City of Boston has done it before. A little more than four years ago, the city signed a 15-year lease with the Orlando-based restaurant chain Earl of Sandwich to run a shop in a long-abandoned former restroom on Boston Common.

So will the Duck House, like the title character in Andersen's fairy tale, become a beautiful swan? I'm betting that it will, with some money, elbow grease, civic vision and thinking outside the box.

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