Project Examples
Larson Fisher Associates



Stony Brook, Long Island, Suffolk County, New York

Team: Jill Fisher & Neil Larson (LFA)
Client: Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages
Date: April 2003

The historic Hawkins-Mount Homestead is located in the Town of Brookhaven on Long Island and contains portions that date to the 18th century. The original house has been expanded a number of times, with at least one of the additions being a building moved to the site. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in October 1966, one of the first listings after the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. This two-part study addressed two important separate but related issues. Part I addressed the issue of fire protection for both the house and barn. Consideration of having a sprinkler system installed in order to assure its protection in case of fire spurred the need for a broader evaluation of fire prevention/protection methods. The study included a survey of how other organizations responsible for historic structures and artifacts address these same fire protection issues. Part I provided a solid foundation for decisions about fire protection and related it to the potential future uses of the building. Part II of the report focused on structural problems, in particular the limitations on floor loading, that could affect both its use and long-term preservation. This information was key to making plans for ultimate use of the facility. Part II also provided cost estimates for all recommended corrective measures.

Contact: William Ayres, Curator, Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages, Stony Brook, NY 631-751-0066 ext. 221

Mendon, Worcester County, Massachusetts

Team: Jill Fisher & Neil Larson (LFA)
Client: Mendon-Upton Regional School District
Date: June 2002

The historic Henry Clough School was slated for demolition due to the planned expansion of the 1960s elementary school on the same site. Because of the building's significance to the Town of Mendon and findings to this effect by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the school district was required to document the building. LFA was hired to write a social and architectural history of the building and photograph the building to meet the archival standards of the state.

Contact: Michael Steinitz, Massachusetts Historical Commission, Boston, MA 617-727-8470

Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Team: Kathryn Grover, historian; Neil Larson, architectural historian
Client: Massachusetts Historical Commission/National Park Service
Date: May 2004

This context study was done to assist in identifying extant historic resources in Massachusetts that are associated with the presence, movement, and assistance of fugitives from American slavery and to provide a historic overview to assess their significance in historical, social, and cultural contexts. It also included models to help in the preparation of nominations of Underground Railroad resources to the State and National Registers of Historic Places and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. LFA was the architectural history consultant and registration specialist for the project and assisted the project leader, Kathryn Grover, in assessing historic resources and developing architectural sections of nomination forms.

The project team wrote a model National Register Nomination Form using the Dorsey-Jones House in the Florence section of Northampton as a resource example. The house was built in 1849 for Basil Dorsey, a fugitive slave who settled in Massachusetts following a celebrated court case in Pennsylvania that denied his owner's representative custody of him. Dorsey sold the house to Thomas H. Jones in 1854. Jones was also a fugitive slave who was a vocal abolitionist who traveled throughout New England telling the story of his experiences. He published his accounts to raise money in the hopes of buying the freedom of a son who remained enslaved.

A model National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Nomination Form (NPS) was written using the Joshua Bowen Smith House at 79 Norfolk St., Cambridge (pictured above). Smith was a fugitive slave who worked in the Boston restaurant trade and helped many fugitives find safe havens in the city. He was a prominent figure in the abolitionist movement and became a successful caterer. He moved into the Cambridge house in 1852 and lived there until his death in 1879.

Contact: Betsy Friedberg, National Register Director, Massachusetts Historical Commission,
617-727-8470; Tara Morrison, National Underground Network to Freedom Program,


Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts

Team: Neil Larson
Client: Preservation Worcester and Massachusetts Historical Commission
Dates: 2000: Intensive-Level Survey of Selected Properties,
2001: Intensive-Level Survey of Targeted Areas,
2002: Intensive-Level Survey of Selected Areas and Properties
2005: Intensive-Level Survey of Selected Areas & Properties in the Piedmont Neighborhood

LFA has provided continued survey and planning services to the City of Worcester, successfully completing intensive-level surveys sponsored by Preservation Worcester in 2000 and 2002 and a follow-up survey of targeted areas on Water and Millbury streets for the Massachusetts Historical Commission in 2001. In 2005 we began our fourth survey project in Worcester. In the process of developing a strategy for the 2002 project, we made an overall update of survey potential in the core of the city, a large area bounded by Salisbury Street on the north, Park Avenue on the west, Cambridge Street on the south, and the railroad ROW east of Main Street on the east. This reconnaissance resulted in maps and lists indicating properties already listed in the MHC survey data base (MACRIS), as well as properties and areas with sufficient architectural interest and integrity to warrant adding to the city's survey record. It is from this assessment that the city's present survey planning has been generated.

In all of our past survey projects in Worcester, LFA exceeded the standard scope of services to devise the best product for the city in each circumstance. In our first survey project (2000), we realized that there was not a complete record of what had been surveyed in the city's downtown area and what had not. With all the changes brought on by recent redevelopment, there was no updated information reflecting what had changed. In addition to creating a map illustrating the status of existing properties, we organized this data in a format that could be updated in response to future actions. LFA worked with our client (Preservation Worcester) and the city to update MACRIS information and record changes city-wide, including demolitions, that had occurred in the years since the data had been collected. Both these activities were not part of our contract, but we believed it was important to improve the recording system as we were adding to it.

Worcester has extraordinary documentary sources on its buildings, which has allowed us to explore social and ethnic contexts for buildings and neighborhoods and develop rich histories for them. These stories will have other image-building and educational uses. For example, Preservation Worcester has been using narratives from our survey forms in their newsletters to inform their members and the general public to some of the architectural and cultural nuances of the city.

Contact: Preservation Worcester 508-754-8760; Michael Steinitz, Assistant Director for Survey, MHC, Boston, MA 617-727-8470

Brookline, Norfolk County, Massachusetts

Team: Jill Fisher & Neil Larson (LFA)
Client: Town of Brookline, Community Development and Planning Department
Date: June 2005

The Town of Brookline has been experiencing development pressures for a number of years that threaten the historic character of established neighborhoods. Although the Town has a number of preservation tools in place to protect historic resources, including Demolition Delay and local designation of historic districts, further protections were viewed as desirable. LFA was hired to research Neighborhood Conservation Districts regulations from around the country, assist in identifying Brookline neighborhoods that could benefit from such a regulatory approach, and analyze current zoning requirements as to how they could negatively impact the historic character of these neighborhoods. The project also involves creating development review guidelines for those selected neighborhoods that would not generally qualify for full historic district status and the protections such a designation would afford. The final product will be an appropriate by-law for Brookline that will address the need for flexible regulations for emerging historic neighborhoods.

Contact: Greer Hardwicke, Preservation Planner, Town of Brookline, Department of Planning and Community Development 617-730-2089