Boston to Rebuild Tea Party Museum

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor Ten years after Boston’s Tea Party Museum was hit by lightning and shut down, The Hub is getting ready to once again mark the spot of one of the most important events that led to the [...]

Ten years after Boston’s Tea Party Museum was hit by lightning and shut down, The Hub is getting ready to once again mark the spot of one of the most important events that led to the American Revolution. The construction start of a new privately owned Tea Party museum at Fort Point Channel coincided with the 236th anniversary of this historical event. The museum is intended to commemorate America’s first tax revolt and to allow visitors to relive it at full scale. The museum will display replicas of the three merchant vessels boarded by patriots (the Beaver, the Eleanor and the Dartmouth) and exhibits of a virtual Samuel Adams and King George III created with the newest technology.

In 2006, the construction costs were estimated at roughly $9 million, but the most recent figures show an increased expected price of more than $27 million. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority has already granted an $18 million loan at a 4.5 percent interest rate for 23 years. The Boston Redevelopment Authority awarded $3 million to this development, coming from a $5 million developer’s mitigation fee from Boston Properties from its nearby Russia Wharf project. The rest of the money is expected to come from Historic Tours of America, the company that actually owns the site.

However, as both agencies are quasi-public, members of the Tea Party’s modern namesake political movement are questioning this financing arrangement. Christen Varley of the Greater Boston Tea Party does not agree to the government being involved in this cultural project that should be supported entirely through donations.

According to Susan Elsbree, spokesperson for the BRA, this unique public-private partnership is a great resource for the city of Boston, as more visitors are expected to revitalize the local tourism industry once the construction for the museum is completed in spring 2012. The 18,900-square-foot space should welcome as many as 400,000 people each year. Visitors will learn about colonists who dressed up as American Indians and dropped crates of English tea into the Boston Harbor. In fact, the new museum will display one of the two wooden tea crates remaining from the revolt’s night.

The project is set to develop at Fort Point Channel, where the old Tea Party museum burned in August 2001. After years of cleanup, this historically industrial waterway will finally be converted into a cultural and recreational district. The site will also have new docks and boat ramps, floating art displays and barges where artistic performances will be hosted.