BHFH Digest: Embracing Change (And: we’re hiring!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022 | Nils Klinkenberg

Dear Friends, 

The photo above is of the largest bedroom in the Beacon Hill Friends House. Yes, that’s a pipe organ.

The photograph was taken sometime between 1907 and 1920. What’s now the Director’s Apartment was previously a ballroom and contained a full pipe organ. In 1920, when the houses at 6 and 8 Chestnut Street were combined into a single residence, it was moved downstairs to the newly constructed two-story ballroom. When the Greene family donated the property in 1957 to become the Beacon Hill Friends House, the organ was removed from the building entirely, and the ballroom became the Meeting Room now used for Quaker Meeting for Worship, resident gatherings and public events.

The buildings at 6 and 8 Chestnut Street have continually changed over time to suit the needs and desires of the occupants. From modifying the roofline in the 1820s when other houses were built in the original side “carriage yards,” to those 1920 renovations, to adding a bathroom and an additional side exit in the late 1950s, to smaller changes resulting from maintenance and repair needs over time. Just this past month, we added historically-sensitive partition walls to divide three of our large double rooms into pairs of single rooms. (This mirrors changes previously made to one part of the third floor sometime between 1920 and 1957.) Converting doubles into singles will allow us to better attract and welcome residents who want or need single-occupancy rooms, meeting modern preferences for privacy – and for less shared airspace in the age of Covid.

Just as the building has changed over time, a defining feature of the community in and around the Friends House is that it continually changes and evolves. This evolution brings continual new life into the residential community, the Board of Managers, and the Meeting – and over time the changing needs of the community bring to light new needs and opportunities for further adjustments and improvements to our physical space. And the cycle continues.

One upcoming change I’m excited about is a shift in our staffing structure that will help us better care for and carry out improvements to the building. Following the departure of Jeff Edenberg as Residency & Operations Director this winter, we’ve adjusted some staff responsibilities and are now looking to hire an Operations & Building Manager who will lead the ongoing care and maintenance of our beloved building while providing other operational support to the residential community and nonprofit organization that reside here.

As we embrace changes to our building and our staffing, we also continue to explore and create new public programs – see below for news about our upcoming events.

Thanks for being part of our community, 
Nils Klinkenberg
BHFH Executive Director

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