120 Jerome Street: Preferably Preserved

Also at our busy December meeting – we voted that the property at 120 Jerome Street should be preferably preserved given its potential contribution to historic district that would preserve and highlight the neighborhood history of West Medford’s African-American community.

When a building is found to be “preferably preserved” an 18 month delay of demolition is imposed, to give the applicant time to consider sale, renovation, reuse, relocation and other alternatives to demolition. The applicant is invited to return to the Commission’s upcoming public meetings to present plans and alternatives – in this case, we voted to have a subcommittee communicate with the developer – and to discuss the preservation concerns that their neighbors and the commission have. If a plan is developed that addresses the concerns of the public and the commission, a demolition delay may be lifted before the 18 month period.

Thanks to the Medford residents who wrote in, or attended in person, to voice their opinions for and against the preservation of this building.

For more on the demo review process at 120 Jerome Street, the posts are collected here.

Historically Significant

At our busy December meeting, we voted that the building at 73-75-77 South Street was historically significant. This residence was built – likely as a duplex – circa 1860 and is located on the south bank of the Mystic River, across from Medford Square. Our determination was made based on the age of the house and its association with the South Street resident and shipyard-owner Jotham Stetson.

Stetson Family Ship Building

Stetson’s Medford shipyard was established on this same south bank of the Mystic (near today’s Winthrop Street Bridge) and produced 33 clipper ships that traveled as far as Calcutta, India. Jotham Stetson and his family lived across the street from that shipyard at 102 South Street – a residence that dates to 1822 and still stands today – and he bequeathed to his daughter Almira Stetson the property at 73-75-77 South Street.

Our architectural historians, who have been surveying Medford neighborhood by neighborhood for the past few years, describe this area of the city as “Medford Square South” – the area just south of the River and extending (more or less) to George Street. They describe it this way because it developed early and the homes and businesses that flourished there were part of the life of early Medford; the Cradock Bridge – which connected the two areas – dates back to the early 17th century. But beyond that, the river itself connected the homes and businesses on South Street – like Stetson’s ship yard, and “Grandfather’s House,” the home of shipbuilder Paul Curtis – to life on Medford’s High Street and in Medford Square. Today, we might think of this neighborhood, which has gradually become more residential, as part of South Medford, or Hillside. However, in the first half of the 1800s the Hillside and South Medford were still mostly undeveloped farms and (literally) hillsides, while “Medford Square South” was already bustling with businesses, multi-family residences, and the large homes of prominent residents like the Stetsons.

Form B and other materials from our surveyors, for 73-75-77 South Street are here.

Postcard view looking towards South Street, from the north bank of the Mystic River, circa 1914

At our December meeting, we also voted that the home at 15 Hadley Place was “historically significant.” This vote was based primarily on the home’s size and architectural merits and its association with the building practices and development history of the residential neighborhood surrounding it – the late-Victorian neighborhood that is now “east” of 93.

Materials for 15 Hadley Place are here.