Note: This post was updated April 16 with information about Ash & Rose and Boston Sculptors Gallery.
A water main broke at 500 Harrison Ave.—near Boston Sculptors Gallery and Perry Street—around 9:18 last night, flooding buildings and cars in Boston’s primary gallery district in the South End. The Boston Fire Department Tweeted: “The street has buckled, there are multiple cars underwater. Streets in the area are flooded.”
“Last night, around 11:20PM, our space in SOWA went underwater (4-5 feet of brown water) after a massive water main break in front of 500 Harrison severely flooded and destroyed the entire 460 Harrison basement,” A R E A gallery, at 460 C Harrison Ave., said on Facebook. “Transformers were all blown and there was no access to the building. At midnight, the water was still moving.”
The waters damaged a number of buildings owned by GTI Properties, which last month announced that it would “waive April rent for all of our retail and gallery tenants” in the South End to help them manage coronavirus shutdowns. “We also provided a discount for artist studios.”
“The basement levels of 460, 490 and 500 Harrison are completely destroyed—including all the retail shops and galleries and Cinquecento. Any cars in 500 [Harrison Ave.] parking lot were also completely submerged,” Bradley St. Amand, GTI director of operations for the South End, said via email this afternoon. “Right now we’re working on getting all of the water out. Unfortunately there was substantial electrical damage at the 3 locations that will likely take weeks to repair. We’ve had to vacate the buildings and move out the residents living at 460 and 490 Harrison.”
One resident reported firefighters escorting residents from the apartments around 11 last night—to exit the building into a foot of water. When the waters receded, Harrison Avenue was left covered in mud.
Meichi Peng Design Studio at 460 Harrison Ave. shared the following video with 7News WHDH Boston:
Owner of design studio on Harrison Ave shared these videos/pics w/ me. She says she was inside the studio when water from a water main break came gushing in. She is ok & has a great attitude despite her studio being under about 5ft of water right now 📸 Meichi Peng @7News #7News pic.twitter.com/3NLERzIgJv
— Nathalie Pozo (@Nathalie7News) April 15, 2020
“We are underwater. … Our shop is located below street level, which means that our space, and all of our inventory and equipment, was entirely submerged in muddy water. A total loss,” Ash & Rose, a clothes and accessories shop in 460 Harrison Ave., announced on Facebook and their website. “It is not safe for us to visit the store right now to fully assess the damage. Our insurance does not provide coverage for flooding (or global pandemics) so we are unlikely to get any relief there. If you want to support us in this time of great need, the best thing you can do is buy a face mask from us, and tell everyone you know to buy one too. https://www.ashandrose.com/products/cloth-face-mask-donation.”
Almitra Stanley, the director of Boston Sculptors Gallery, located at 486 Harrison Ave., near where the broken water main left a sinkhole in the street, said via email: “Fortunately, we were spared damage to any artwork or the gallery space. We’re lucky that the actual exhibition space is several steps up from the street level, and only had water wash under the front door and leave a bunch of silty mud. However, the basement flooded, taking out power to the entire building (several floors of condos are above the gallery). GTI Properties, the landlord, moved those folks to temporary housing.”
Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, in the lower level of 460 Harrison Ave., said on Facebook this evening, “Our current show on view was untouched by water. At the highest point, it was 12 inches—and as of now the cleaning crews have removed all water from our space. It is now safe to access the gallery and we are there cleaning and assessing next steps.”
“The damage to the physical gallery isn’t beyond repair,” Galatea Fine Art, in the lower level at 460 Harrison Ave., said on Facebook. “Most of the artwork survived, some of the work is damaged and perhaps beyond repair. Our mission going forward is to support our members and friends, and to return to a better place.”
Howard Yezerski Gallery, upstairs in the same building, “did not suffer any damage from the water main break,” it reported on Facebook.
Galleries, studios and other business across the way at 450 Harrison Ave. seem to have been spared because the waters apparently didn’t rise high enough to cross Thayer Street.
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