The Castle at Boston University Will Soon Get a Major Face-Lift

By Beth Treffeisen

The Bay State Road and Back Bay West Architectural Conservation District Commission gave a key approval to Boston University to renovate and expand the Castle located at 225 Bay State Road at their monthly meeting on December 13.

Approvals included renovating and rehabilitating existing building, clean and restoring exterior masonry, replacing existing slate roof in-kind and constructing an addition in the rear to make way for a new commercial kitchen to go along with the existing pub.

The kitchen will allow for proper food service at the Castle, which will curb some of the truck trips and front door deliveries needed for events between the Castle and 100 Bay State Road.

An accessible entrance to the pub will be made available on Granby Street and the small rear addition creates an entirely accessible pub and patio area. There will also be a handicap accessible elevator for the first three floors through a connection from the abutting Leventhal Center.

“I think it’s great – I think it’s a wonderful project,” said Commissioner Terri North.

The Castle used to be a private residence before being donated to Boston University in 1939. The building was imported piece by piece from England and finished construction in 1915.

Today, the Castle is used as an event space along with offices. Once renovations are complete it will be the new alumni center for Boston University.

“The venue has been used for a number of dinners, mitzvahs, wedding receptions – you name it,” said Paul Rinaldi from Boston University. “But the one thing missing from Boston University is a gathering space for alumni so eventually it has landed itself as a center for alumni.”

The Castle shares a party wall with the recently renovated former Hillel House located at 233 Bay State Road. That wall, according to Rebecca L. Berry from Finegold Alexander Architects, actually outdates both sites.

The colored glass that hides the patio from Storrow Drive, will be taken out, and be replaced with clear glass. This change, Berry hopes will extend the relationships with the two buildings.

The current back wall that connects the patio to Granby Street will be replaced with a decorative fence.

“It captures the corner here and really opens it up,” said Berry noting that it used to be just a back street. “This makes this whole corner come to life.”

Exterior restoration of the Castle will include masonry repairs, installation of a new slate roof to match the existing slate, and window restoration.

“The whole point is to carry this building for the next 100 years,” said Berry.

In addition to the restoration, up lighting will be installed to highlight the arches that lead out onto the rear patio.

“For a sensitive building this is a sensitive touch for this building,” said Commissioner Richard Yeager.

The large mechanical equipment that is currently seen on the roof will be taken down. The sidewalks will be refurnished from entirely brick to have some stretches of concrete to allow for accessibility. They are also planning on planting two street trees.

This update has gained the approval of the Boston Planning and Development Authority along with the Inspectional Service Department.

This project is expected to start late January.

“This was built as a private home and stood there for 100 years,” said Berry. “It’s time to give it a face lift.”

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