405 Washington Street, Dorchester, is the site of a house built in the late 19th century and foreclosed upon and demolished in the 1970s. Since then, the lot has been city-owned, unused, and overgrown. Inspired by the evolution of this site, Lost House both explores the past and asks questions about what could be. What happens when artifacts of the past are erased? How do we imagine new potential futures in these vacant spaces?
Lost House plays with forgotten histories of the site, while proposing the new. The installation is like a house, and yet is not a house. Painted on the surfaces facing Washington Street only, it evokes an iconic house from the front, but loses this familiarity as one walks through and around it. The structure itself is built of conventional lumber (2x4s, 2x8s), but these, the typical components of wood-framed houses, are joined in a new way, with custom CNC-milled wood nodes that create branching connections: the materials of the residential, transformed.
A communal bench transforms the traditional center of domestic life into a neighborhood shared space, and the design and execution, relative to issues of safety were informed by meetings with neighborhood associations and community organizers. The footprint of the original house was drawn onto the grass in lawn paint, and has been allowed to fade over time, disappearing during the project’s lifespan. Wildflower seeds have been scattered along this perimeter, in hopes that the spring will see this outline emerge again.
This project was funded and supported by Now+There's Public Art Accelerator, a juried program that promotes the development of public artists throughout the greater Boston area.