A Shining Light in the Community
by John Harden
“As architects and residents, our work is entwined with the physical fabric of our city.”
How can thoughtful design positively impact a community? As architects headquartered in the City of Beverly, we play an active role in defining how our city feels, and functions, and help define the physical fabric of the community in important ways. I am reminded of this every time I pass the First Baptist Church, and the historic spire that looks out over the center of Beverly.
The original church was destroyed in a fire in 1975, but the historic steeple survived and was incorporated into the rebuilt church. The steeple also houses the Range Rear Light, which has guided ships into the harbor since the 19th century, when Beverly was an active maritime center. Today, that “harbor light” which illuminates the city’s skyline serves as a symbol of continuity and hope for the community, a beacon that Beverly citizens look to for guidance.
Fittingly, The First Baptist Church has served as a launch pad for some of Beverly’s cornerstone institutions; charitable organizations which SV Design has partnered with to help further their missions.
In 1963, the church purchased two Victorian homes in the neighborhood and founded Harborlight House as a home for elderly members of the community. Harborlight Community Partners (HCP) was founded, a non-profit that continues to provide affordable housing in the area. SV Design has partnered with HCP to help renovate and maintain Harborlight House, as well as their extension properties at Turtle Creek and Turtle Woods.
In 1973, the church basement gave birth to the Harborlight Montessori School. When they grew, SV Design helped develop their new campus over several years. In the early 90’s, once again in the basement of the First Baptist Church, Beverly Bootstraps was established as a food pantry and thrift store to support those in need in the community. Beverly Bootstraps grew and expanded their services beyond the capacity of the church. SV recently helped them design and renovate their permanent home in Beverly, where they will continue to provide their services for years to come.
The programs that grew out of that church basement became supportive institutions for the community, all founded in one of the City’s local landmarks, and a symbol for guiding the people of the community. Most of these institutions perform their work quietly and offer help to those who are in need.
The historic steeple, and the symbolic beacon that shines above the First Baptist Church, is an important example of how physical structures, historic and new, can inspire a community. As architects and residents, our work is entwined with the physical fabric of our city. We work closely with local leaders to ensure that fabric evolves in a way that will both serve and inspire the people who live, work and raise their families here. From the private residences and multi-family projects we build, to the work we do for charitable organizations like Harborlight Community Partners and Beverly Bootstraps, we strive to help guide our city toward a bright and certain future.