The Architectural Heritage Foundation is saddened to announce the loss of our founder and chairman emeritus Roger Webb. Roger was an early leader in Boston’s preservation movement at a time when urban renewal was in full swing. In 1966 he established AHF to facilitate the adaptive reuse of important historic properties at risk of demolition. Under his leadership, AHF created the financial model that enabled the redevelopment of the iconic Quincy Market; rehabilitated Old City Hall and managed the building for fifty years; and provided consulting and investment services that facilitated the preservation of numerous historic buildings throughout Massachusetts and the country. In so doing, AHF helped to prove that adaptive reuse was a practical and economical solution to the problem of what to do with deteriorated historic buildings that were both culturally important and unable to support their original purpose. Roger was also instrumental in creating the Architectural Conservation Trust, which ultimately evolved into Preservation Massachusetts, the state-wide advocacy group for historic preservation. His influential work was recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the Boston Preservation Alliance, and the Boston Society of Architects.
Roger was known not only for his dogged vision, but also for his sense of humor and adventurous spirit. Perhaps his most beloved contribution to Boston is the donkey statue in front of Old City Hall – a spur-of-the-moment purchase during a trip to Italy – and its accompanying political backstory, which he invented. Roger helped to make the city a more vibrant and beautiful place. We will miss his guidance and boundless energy dearly.