The Ayer Mansion has been recommended to receive a $30,000 Community Preservation Act grant from the city that will allow it to finish restoration work on the façade of the Tiffany-designed building, wrapping up a project that first got underway in 2006.
Jeanne Pelletier, Preservation Advisor for the Campaign for the Ayer Mansion, said the city funds and a matching grant already received from the Massachusetts Historical Society would be used to address the extensive deterioration and loss of original stained glasswork designed by venerable American artist Louis Comfort Tiffany that is embedded in the inset stone columns flanking the main entrance, as well as to restore the massive copper-clad front doors, along with their 16 Tiffany glass insets, back to their original condition.
“It’s been a long haul to try to get the project done before we lose any more Tiffany features,” said Pelletier, who added that 75 percent of the 1,122 pieces of Tiffany glass originally in the stone columns are now damaged or missing. “They are in bad shape, mostly because they are at touching level and people brush against them, and we lose more pieces of glass every day.”
Pelletier extended her gratitude to the city on behalf of the Ayer Mansion for selecting them as one of the grant recipients, following the highly competitive bid for fiscal ’21 CPA funds.
“It’s tremendously hard to fundraise for preservation work in this economic climate,” Pelletier said. “We’re tremendously grateful to be funded by the CPA, which is one of the few programs giving large grants for restoration work.”
The Ayer Mansion also hopes that finishing this exterior restoration work will bring the building some additional visibility and exposure, said Pelletier, especially given its location on the “neglected portion” of Commonwealth Avenue.
“We’re not well known because we are more in the Kenmore Square area below Mass Ave, so a lot of people drive right by and don’t even notice us,” Pelletier said. “Theses funds will enable us to restore the exterior of the building and give the lower Back Bay-Kenmore area some more prominence, and really help bring more people down to this area.”
Built between 1899 and 1902 for sarsaparilla magnate Frederick Ayer, the Ayer Mansion, located at 395 Commonwealth Ave., is a National Historic Landmark, which is the only surviving example of a house designed by Tiffany, and has the only known example of his exterior artwork.
To learn more about the Ayer Mansion, visit www.ayermansion.org.