The Farm Stands

A rehabbed farmhouse in Mattapan takes root

LITTLE HOUSE IN THE CITY: The farmhouse, which dates to 1786, was last owned by Jorge Epstein’s family. It was renovated to keep original designs as well as additions made in the mid-20th century.

Founded in the late 1700s, the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm in Mattapan is one of the city’s oldest farmhouses. By 2013, however, the property fell vacant. After a recent rehab by several community groups, including Historic Boston Inc. and the Urban Farming Institute of Boston, the site has come full circle: The half-acre estate is once again a farm for the neighborhood.

But while the okra and collard greens get all the fanfare, it’s worth digging into the roots of how the site was preserved, a feat made possible by the pro bono work of architectural firm Perkins+Will. The farmhouse—with its side-gabled roof and walls clad in yellow clapboard—serves as a striking example of 18th-century Federal architecture. And the carriage house, now reinforced with a frame of steel, shows how a once-dilapidated barn from the 1800s can be transformed into loft offices.

DETAILS, DETAILS: Wood floors dating to the 1800s were preserved, as were old barn doors at the carriage house, while the window and door pediments at the farmhouse were rehabbed. Old interior murals, likely painted around the 1960s, were also kept..

MATTAPAN’S TEST KITCHEN: The contemporary teaching kitchen with an electric range and stainless steel ovens was designed to educate small groups on how to use the food they grow.

Historic details like old wood floors and barn doors were saved, while efficient upgrades were added, such as a white, modern teaching kitchen. The room was created to educate, but also feel familiar to neighbors, says Barbara Knecht of the Urban Farming Institute. “We wanted it to look like a kitchen you’d have in your apartment.”

Fowler Clark Epstein Farm 487 Norfolk St., Boston

Fowler Clark Epstein Farm

487 Norfolk St., Boston

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