While the City of Boston’s Irish roots are the stuff of popular culture, the contributions of its other European ancestors are less well-documented. However, like all immigrants, 19th-century German emigres to Boston faced challenges in adapting to a new culture while preserving their unique cultural and religious heritage. Sympathetic to their plight, Bishop Benedict Fenwick, lobbied hard for the establishment of a German national parish and, in June 1842, the cornerstone for Holy Trinity Church was laid. For the next 166 years, Holy Trinity was the site of masses in German and celebrations of distinctive German Catholic feast days and festivals. History records that, in many ways, the church served as much as a colony than as a parish.
When Holy Trinity’s doors finally closed in 2008, many Bostonians worried that the iconic puddingstone and granite structure would disappear from the Back Bay neighborhood, an area considered to be one of the best-preserved examples of 19th-century urban design. However, anxieties were allayed when developers chose to integrate the new luxury condominiums, the Lucas, within the façade of the former church. This adaptive re-use would bring the building’s function up-to-date with the modern pace of the neighborhood while maintaining its historic aesthetic.
Befitting its fashionable locale, co-developers of the Lucas, Metric Corp and New Boston Ventures, spared no expense in outfitting the opulent residences with state-of-the art amenities, high-end finishes, high-tech home systems and top-of-the-line mechanical systems. The Unico System was the sole HVAC choice from the design stage and the developers tapped RST Thermal, Unico’s Boston-based factory representatives, who in turn suggested Unico System veterans, Back Bay Mechanical, for the massive installation. Distributor, R.E. Michel Company supplied the 43 Unico Systems needed for the project and Back Bay Mechanical began the installation during phase two of construction in the fall of 2016.
The project developers, architects and interior design firm chose the Unico System for its ability to both unobtrusively fit into any design and deliver the best, most efficient indoor comfort available in today’s market. The structure’s 33 residential units, ranging in size from 1-4 bedroom layouts and in cost from $1.5 million to $3.5 million each, are outfitted with the very best finishes and furnishings, so the HVAC system had to match these ambitions. Hence, the choice of the Unico System.
Unico System experts Evan Trethewey with RST and Scott McKenna with R.E. Michel acted as liaison between the factory and the installing contractor and construction teams. Back Bay Mechanical began the initial systems integration during phase two of the construction, installing the main plenum and supply duct runs. They returned to install the individual air handling units and outlets during the final phase of construction in the fall of 2017.
“The truly neat thing about a project like this, beyond its overall size and scope,” says R.E. Michel’s McKenna, “is seeing a local historic landmark both preserved and transformed into something completely new.” Scott has been associated with many Unico System installations in both older, architecturally significant and custom-designed homes and buildings. For the Lucas, Scott maintained a video diary of the project’s progress which was periodically posted on Unico’s social media sites. “It was really something to see the old church gutted and then built back up. It was a bit like the architectural equivalent of watching a butterfly hatch from a cocoon. These are the projects that really make our jobs interesting!”
As a longtime partner and supporter of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Unico is always proud to be a part of preserving America’s historic locations.