Boston Children’s Museum Milk Bottle Receives 2021 Preservation Award

BOSTON – Boston Children’s Museum has received the 2021 Mayor Thomas M. Menino Legacy Award by Preservation Massachusetts for the renovation of the historic Hood Milk Bottle structure. The award recognizes preservation projects that are transformative, catalytic, embrace the community, create partnerships, and revitalize the best of the past to make something good for the future.

With the generous support of long-term partner, HP Hood, the iconic Milk Bottle underwent a major renovation in 2020 to its facade and infrastructure. In addition to the complete renovation of the façade, the Milk Bottle has new windows, new awnings, new exterior lighting, and new HVAC system.

“Hood is proud of our longstanding partnership with Boston Children’s Museum and are thrilled that the restoration of this beloved landmark is being honored with this recognition,” said Lynne Bohan, Vice President of Communications, HP Hood LLC.

The Milk Bottle was built in 1934 by Arthur Gagner of Taunton, Mass., to dispense the homemade ice cream he produced. Standing 40 feet tall and weighing in at 15,000 lbs., the Milk Bottle was one of America’s first fast-food drive-in restaurants and an authentic example of the “Coney Island” style of architecture. If real, it could hold 58,620 gallons of milk.

The Milk Bottle stood as a landmark on Route 44 in Taunton until it was abandoned in 1967. It was left in disrepair for years until Hood purchased the deteriorating structure, rescuing it from oblivion. Hood had the Bottle refurbished and donated it to Boston Children’s Museum. In 1977 the Milk Bottle was placed aboard a barge for its “Great Bottle Sail” through Boston Harbor to the Museum Wharf, now Children’s Wharf at 308 Congress Street, where it serves as a destination landmark delighting millions of people from around the world and the city of Boston.

In fall 2006, the bottle was “uncapped”—its original top half was sliced off and preserved—so that its base could be moved slightly and rebuilt on the new Milk Bottle Plaza. A renovated bottle was put back in place and officially re-dedicated by Boston Mayor Menino on April 20, 2007, thirty years to the day after it was moved to Children’s Wharf.

Wessling Architects served as the Preservation Architect for the Milk Bottle renovation. Their design restored the deteriorated building exterior while also providing critical interior improvements that will help the building better function as a successful concession stand.

“The challenge with this restoration was to maintain the historic character of this iconic structure while replacing constantly deteriorating exterior materials with more durable options for this waterfront location,” said Scott Winkler, Associate at Wessling Architects. “We felt that the renewed commitment of Boston Children’s Museum and Hood to maintain this important piece of history deserved to be recognized with a preservation award.”

South Coast Improvement Company was the general contractor that renovated the Milk Bottle.

Nineteen projects from Plymouth to Springfield will be celebrated during the month of May, culminating in a live virtual celebration on Thursday, May 20. The event coincides with National Historic Preservation Month, which celebrates the nation’s heritage through historic places.

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