Q & A Series: Meet Amanda Zettle of the Charlestown Historic Preservation Society

Amanda is a fabulous interior designer and huge supporter of Charlestown. Her love of the neighborhood has made her an integral part of the fabric of the community here. As a board member of the Charlestown Historic Preservation Society, Amanda’s working hard to maintain the integrity of Charlestown’s history. Let’s hear what she has to say:

How did you first get involved in the Charlestown Preservation Society? I am an interior designer by trade, my Neighbor Ellen (who was the President of CPS at the time) recruited me after seeing the preservation work I have done around town. She appreciated my modern / relevant design and respect for historic interiors of the buildings.

We had the best time walking through the house tour last year. When’s the next one? How do houses get selected to be on it? Our Historic Neighborhood House Tour is held every other year. This fall we will start planning for the next September, 2020 tour!

We have a house selection committee (seeking volunteers!) Most of the houses come by word of mouth – typically someone on the committee knows someone with an amazing house, but we also ask our membership and advertise in the paper for volunteer houses. We tour house options around Charlestown in the winter and early spring.

We’ve seen the Master Plan signs all over town. Can you tell us a little bit about what you are spearheading? How can residents get involved? Yes! ‘Master Plan’ is a concept that represents a comprehensive plan for a city. We organized a group of Charlestown neighbors, businesses, organizations and groups into what we call 02129 Neighbor Alliance. This alliance asked Mayor Walsh and the BPDA (the agency that plans for the City of Boston) to solve some of our current infrastructure issues and to plan for the 34% population increase in Charlestown in the next 10 years. They said yes – and have already begun meetings in our community in order to understand the issues that the community faces.

The study covers all of Charlestown, we are essentially a one-square mile island with 3 access points. The year long study will produce a ‘PLAN: Charlestown’ that will illustrate our community goals and values and provide solutions and planning for things like open space, sports and school facilities, traffic and parking, affordable and workforce housing, and strategies for economic development and the health of our small businesses and protections for our historic heritage and buildings.

It’s a lot! It will be a lot of work and we need the community to get involved in the process to ensure that the PLAN reflects a true cross-section of the neighborhood. This is our chance to guide the future of Charlestown as residents and business owners! Send us an email at hello@02129NeighborAlliance.org and we will make sure that you know how to participate and add your issues and ideas to the conversation, both virtually through text, survey or email and in person at community meetings.

 The Charlestown Preservation Society started a self guided walking tour, which was such a great idea! What’s it all about and how do we access it? Thanks! We created the walking tour for the neighborhood. We wanted everyone to have access to a mobile-friendly, self-guided walking tour that highlights the history of the neighborhood’s built environment and offers access through photography inside these beautiful buildings. It’s a great tool for when a friend comes to town and wants a tour of the neighborhood.

The tour can be found on our website under Neighborhood Tours here: https://cps-ris.org/walking-tours/historic-charlestown/

What other projects does the Charlestown Historic Preservation Society have going on? We are in the research phase for our Historic Building Marker program. These are the beautiful bronze date markers that you see on over 200 buildings in Charlestown. Before we install a marker we verify the history of the house and research the building and its owners back to the original build date. Applications are accepted every June and installations happen every fall.

Our Design Review Committee is very busy. They review development and building plans for projects in our neighborhood with an eye on appropriateness of style and scale to the neighborhood. They are also helping oversee the preservation efforts at Memorial Hall. Construction starts this spring and we’re super excited!

Our Protect Historic Charlestown Committee is working hard on PLAN: Charlestown. We also attend development meetings for projects like Hood Park, 40 Warren, Rutherford Ave and One Charlestown. We keep an eye on how these proposed developments will affect not only the historic neighborhood but quality of life and infrastructure. We actively advocate for and against elements in these proposals and rally our membership as needed.  

Now that Memorial Hall’s preservation is underway, we are scouting the neighborhood for our next preservation target! We hope to advocate for and guide a historic building’s owner through the preservation process, and secure grants and funding for the restoration.

Anything else you want us to know? We are an all-volunteer organization and have been a 501c3 since 1967. Support from our community in volunteer hours, dues and donations is critical to the support of our historic neighborhood. Membership and donations are tax deductible as allowed by law – and we could really use all of the volunteer help we can get, we have a lot of fun doing it! Experience in preservation is not required, we need help with everything from party planning to finance and letter writing. 

Finally, what are your top 3 favorite things about living here? I love living in a small village that is so close to a big city! Our community is really something special – we are kind to each other and come together for the good of our neighborhood and each other. We are so lucky to live here, our charming historic neighborhood inspires me everyday to ensure that future generations have a chance to enjoy it as we do.