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jamaica plain

Where Pinebank once stood, a memorial patch of green

Although Pinebank Mansion was demolished in January, the landmark home that overlooked Jamaica Pond for 138 years will not be forgotten soon.

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department is preparing to build a small memorial on the site where the building once stood, and develop the area as a quiet recreational spot. The $350,000 plan calls for an outline of where the building's perimeter had been to be marked off in granite. Signs will indicate various features of the former building, and a walking path will link the site to Jamaica Pond.

"People do want to move forward," said Margaret Dyson, director of historic parks for the city parks and recreation agency. "They want this to be a positive place that is used by the public, which it hasn't been for three decades."

Built by a wealthy philanthropist in 1868, Pinebank mansion had been vacant since 1976, when a community arts program that operated in the building closed. The property was fenced off, but vandals got inside and caused considerable damage. The city also did not maintain the building, which suffered serious fire and water damage and was deemed irreparable last year.

Dyson said the site where the building once stood will have considerable grass. The area could be a venue for low-key musical events because of its isolation from heavily traveled sections of the greenway, according to Dyson. "It's a lovely spot. It's a really quiet, peaceful spot. Jamaica Pond Park is a thin park, and this is away from the roads."

Over the years, the community was divided over reuse of the mansion, the only building that landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted included in his design for the Emerald Necklace parks. Named after the stately pines that separated the building from Jamaica Pond, the Victorian-Gothic mansion was built by Edward Perkins, whose family made their fortune in the China trade.