Beacon Street Diary blog

14 Beacon Street

For many years "14 Beacon Street" was the home address of American Congregationalists. An eight-story office building at the top of Beacon Hill, it was built in 1898 by the American Congregational Association, an independent organization intent on providing a single space for all the scattered efforts of a denomination dedicated to the principle of decentralization. The key piece, and the core passion of the ACA, was the Congregational Library, established decades earlier, in 1853, to hold hundreds of years worth of priceless historical records. For the last century and a half the Library has carried out that mission, not just safekeeping documents but holding the memory and identity of a long and rich spiritual tradition.

At their September meeting, and after much discussion and deliberation, the board of the ACA made the difficult decision to explore the sale of the building. The ACA has engaged a real estate broker, Jones Lang LaSalle, and marketing will begin in November. Whatever the outcome of this process, the Library & Archives will remain in its present location, under a long-term lease.

14 Beacon is a wonderful building — and it is also over a century old. The ACA has done its best to exercise good stewardship over the years, and made a policy of renting building space to nonprofit organizations. But for a long time now, the board has been aware of pressing and expensive repairs, far beyond the ability of a nonprofit organization to address. They have reached the unavoidable conclusion that the ACA's mission is not managing real estate in downtown Boston.

The board has absolute clarity about the library's mission and lots of energy and enthusiasm for carrying it forward. As always the ACA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and making accessible the story of the Congregational tradition. The past years have seen enormous success in growing public programs, building our collection and making it accessible in digital form, and nurturing cutting edge scholarship. Ambitious plans for the future are in store, especially with the approach of "2020," the 400th anniversary of Congregationalism in North America.

More specific information will unfold over the next several months. In the meantime, Lisa Campoli (lisa.campoli@ellaproperties.com) the real estate advisor to the ACA, is available to answer questions.

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