National preservation award goes to Fowler Clark Epstein Farm

The Fowler Clark Epstein Farm as seen from Norfolk Street in Mattapan.

A reclaimed farm on Norfolk Street in Mattapan has won the prestigious Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award last week. Once a distressed eyesore on Norfolk Street, the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm is one of the few remaining connections to the neighborhood’s agrarian past.

The property was saved from blight and likely destruction in 2015— after many years of neglect from previous owners— when Historic Boston Inc. purchased it and spent $3.67 million to rehab the buildings and farmland in partnership with the Urban Farming Institute (UFI), the Trust for Public Land, and the North Bennet Street School.

The property is now programmed by UFI, which offers community educational courses, productive farmland, office space, a greenhouse, and a residence for two full-time farmers.

“The repurposing of the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm turned a property that was overgrown and deteriorating into a visual, social, and economic benefit for the neighborhood,” said Patricia Spence, president and CEO of Urban Farming Institute of Boston.

The Driehaus awards celebrate the best in historic preservation, adaptive reuse, and the re-imagining of historic buildings for the future.
This year’s virtual awards ceremony, which features other historic landmarks from New York and Memphis, were held during the Past Forward Conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation on Oct. 29.