Making A Difference

The Business of Saving Old Buildings

Roger Webb (MBA 1961)

Roger Webb (MBA 1961) is the founder and chairman emeritus of the Architectural Heritage Foundation in Boston and was instrumental in launching Preservation Massachusetts, a statewide nonprofit historic preservation organization. In this video, he discusses the origins of the historic preservation movement in the state.

“I graduated from business school in 1961 and the idea of reusing old buildings was pretty novel and unknown. I was interested in old architecture, and I think I became the first graduate of Harvard Business School who became an old house mover.

“In 1966, I saw the need for setting up a nonprofit foundation to do recycling of older buildings, and so I started the Architecture Heritage Foundation and was asked by the Boston Redevelopment Authority to come up with what they could do with the surplus wholesale food buildings they were acquiring in the center of Boston, right around Faneuil Hall.

“So that’s pretty much what I’ve associated with my success in helping bring the Faneuil Hall Markets into existence in the 1960s.

“In the Architecture Heritage Foundation, I was producing a substantial cash flow that I directed into a number of other preservation organizations in Massachusetts. It was certainly unplanned and unforeseen, but very satisfying to be able to attract a lot of funds in an area that really was quite underfunded.

“Preservation Massachusetts has evolved over 30 years into a very substantial organization. It has a big membership and a very strong board of directors. And they now are the principle lobbyists of historic preservation in Massachusetts, and have done a great deal over the last 10 years or 15 years in getting legislation that supports historic preservation in Massachusetts.”

(Published November 2016)

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