Recently, Mayor Martin J. Walsh made headlines by bringing James Michael Curley’s mahogany desk back to Boston City Hall after at least a three-decade hiatus. With the legendary antique again serving as the centerpiece of the mayor’s office, Walsh told the Boston Globe, “It’s about history. When you look in the office here, nothing is really historic.”
Walsh’s assessment can’t be argued, especially when the hand-carved craftsmanship of Curley’s desk is viewed in sharp contrast to the concrete modernism of City Hall. And so with the mayor’s office paving the way, Boston is fast becoming a city known as much for its education and innovation as its conservation and preservation.
Right in line with Walsh’s ethos, Wentworth Institute of Technology Humanities professors, Christopher Gleason and Jody Gordon, have surely set the educational bar higher by incorporating cutting-edge technology and non-destructive digital archiving of historical data in their new course Digital Approaches to Boston Culture: Curating the Legacy of Mayor James M. Curley. The course is part of a new approach to college education being pioneered at Wentworth called EPIC Learning, which stands for Externally-collaborative, Project-based, Interdisciplinary Curricula for Learning www.wit.edu/epic-learning.
While developing the course that’s aimed at archiving and creating a virtual museum of Curley’s life, the two professors reached out to Feldman Land Surveyors to see if the Curley house would qualify for the company’s Scanning Historic Boston series.
In no time at all, Feldman—a third generation family-owned Boston firm—was on board with the program and conducting a pro-bono 3D laser scan of the famous house with the shamrock shutters. And with the amazing images already collected, curators, historians, students, local residents and even politicians are getting more and more interested in properly preserving the Curley house for future generations.
With educational opportunities and better stewardship of architectural treasures the byproducts of their work, it appears the surveyors at Feldman are just getting started scanning a city that’s always had their vote!