Demo Application: 109 Forest St

At our June public meeting, the Medford Historical Commission received an application to demolish the house at 109 Forest St, a brick home built between 1900-1910 on one of Medford’s main streets.

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Image via Kristy Avino, and the many lively Facebook discussion about the house.

The Form B for 109 Forest St is already on file with the Historical Commission and gives a detailed architectural description of the “exceptionally well-preserved” Colonial Revival home; the Historical Commission generally relies on information from the Form B to decide whether or not a building is “historically significant.” Information on neighboring Forest St houses is available through MACRIS, the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System.

At the same meeting, the Commission found the house at 17 Florence Ave, in the Heights, to be “not historically significant” and so a permit for demolition will be granted for that property. Minutes of the meeting will be posted when they are available.

June Agenda

June Agenda is available, meeting is Monday, June 10, 7 PM, City Hall.

For those interested in the fate of 109 Forest St, the upcoming meeting is for accepting the demolition application ONLY.

According to our Demolition Review Process, (1) a demo application is accepted at a regular public meeting. (2) At the next month’s public mtg, a determination is made regarding the building’s “historical significance” and then, (3) in the month following that, the MedHC takes public comment and decides whether or not it is in the interests of the city to preserve the building. If a building is found to be “preferably preserved” a delay of 18 months is enacted.

These are *all* public meetings, and we encourage everyone interested in learning more about the process to attend. But public comment is – generally – most useful at the meetings at which MedHC determines whether or not buildings are “preferably preserved.” All of our meeting dates for 2019 are listed here, but we usually meet the second Monday of the month, at City Hall, 7 PM.

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Comments on 30-36 Salem St

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The Medford Theatre was built in 1915 as a theater for stage performances and the then new-fangled cinema. Also called the Dyer Building, it was designed and constructed by local architect Michael A. Dyer – his firm later built our City Hall.  The building’s rear and interior have undergone numerous alterations and currently, Medford residents practice yoga in the original “Lodge Hall,” the spacious meeting hall on the second floor, where the large, arched windows overlook Salem St.  The Dyer Building changed hands in 2018, and there are now plans to renovate it into a larger residential development, while preserving the Georgian Revival facade. These plans are currently on view in the City Hall Office of Community Development – check out the plans there and submit your comments to them. Postcard image via Inside Medford.

Preferably Preserved: 23 Bower

The barn at 23 Bower St, in West Medford, was determined to be preferably preserved at our May public meeting. For details on the decision, please see our forthcoming meeting minutes.

When a building is found to be preferably preserved an 18 month delay of demolition is imposed. In this case, the Historical Commission requires that the building be fully documented before demolition. The building – located behind a large and recently renovated Queen Anne home, on historically central Bower St – was built c. 1880. Since then, it appears to have been used as a barn, a carriage house and, finally, a working garage. As such, the building retains traces of West Medford’s historical transformation from a rural town center, to a turn of the century suburb, to a 20th century “two-car” community.

In other West Medford development news, our May meeting also included a lengthy discussion – between neighbors, the commission and developers – of plans for 421 High St, the site of Cincotti’s Funeral Home. Thanks to the Medford residents who shared their thoughts at the public meeting.

As a locally owned and operated funeral home, Cincotti’s is importantly associated with the 20th century cultural social history of Medford and its residents, and so the building was deemed preferably preserved at our April meeting. In this case, the applicants were invited to return to the commission’s public meetings to present plans and alternatives to demolition, and to discuss the concerns that their neighbors and the commission have. If a plan can be developed that addresses these issues, the demolition delay on 421 High St may be lifted before the 18 month period. Again, for more on what the plans and concerns are, please see our forthcoming minutes.

Or attend the next public meeting, Monday, June 10, 7 PM City Hall, where conversations will continue!

Demo Application: 17 Florence Ave

At our May public meeting, the Medford Historical Commission received an application to demolish the house at 17 Florence Ave, in the Fulton Heights neighborhood.

The Commission will post additional information to this page as review of this demolition proceeds.

[At our June meeting, this house was found to be NOT historically significant and a demo permit was granted.]

History at 541-551 Winthrop St

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Part 2 of 2 – On a historical note, the two buildings demolished to make way for the Winthrop St development were once home to two of Boston’s great labor organizers. The first, Mary Kenney O’Sullivan, is now publicly honored in the Massachusetts State House, as part of the State House Women’s Leadership Project. A bronze and marble sculpture, installed at the entrance to Doric Hall in 1995, commemorates the contributions of Sullivan, and other Massachusetts women, to the government of the Commonwealth. Mary Kenney O’Sullivan received this obituary in the Boston Globe on her death in 1943,

[In] Chicago, Mrs. O’Sullivan [worked] with Jane Addams in the Hull House movement for the betterment of conditions in the city’s overcrowded tenement districts. While still in her teens she founded the Jane Clubs for working girls, and was active in putting through the Illinois Legislature laws favorable to working people. She organized the first bookbinders’ union of women in Chicago, was the first woman organizer appointed by the American Federation of Labor, and the first woman factory inspector in the United States. osullivan

She came to Boston in 1892 as national organizer of the American Federation of Labor […]  After [her husband’s] death in an accident she became an inspector in the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industries […] holding that position until her retirement in 1934.  She founded the Boston Women’s Trade Union League, conducted a camp for working girls at Point Shirley in connection with the Dennison House for many years, and spoke for women’s suffrage.  She was president of the Boston Women’s Labor League, vice president of the Boston Women’s Trade Union League, and treasurer of the National Women’s Trade Union League. In 1926 she was appointed a delegate from the United States to the annual conference to prevent war, which was held in Dublin, Ireland, under the auspices of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

She was a frequent speaker on economics and labor problems at Ford Hall Forum. She was also a member of the Women’s Industrial League and the Massachusetts League of Women Voters.  She wrote a number of articles for the Globe on women’s rights, trade unionism and fair labor practices.

More information about Mary Kenney O’Sullivan’s life and work can be found on the website for the State House Women’s Leadership Project.

state house2The second property demolished, the stone house pictured above, was the home of Philip Davis (1875-1951) and his wife, Belle, both born in Russian Poland, and Jewish immigrants to the US in the late 1890s. According to his Globe obituary, Philip Davis – a friend and colleague of Mary Kenney O’Sullivan’s – was also influential in the settlement house and labor movements of the Progressive Era. While attending the University of Chicago, he too was a protégé of Jane Addams and on her recommendation he attended Harvard, graduating in 1903. He then earned a law degree from Boston University and was active in labor organizing and workers’ rights advocacy in Boston’s North End.

Meet Your Commissioners-Peter Miller

Corey Street Circa 1915

Corey Street, c. 1915  Photo Courtesy of Jeff Myung

Peter Miller joined the Medford Historical Commission in winter 2019, just in time to help with our annual spring rush of demolition applications. He has jumped right in and he has this to share with us: a view of old Corey St (above), and the following personal introduction,

My wife and I feel lucky to have settled in the Hillside neighborhood in 1997. We have three children, all of which have attended the Medford public schools. As an architect, I have an appreciation for the timeless craftsmanship and detail that can be found in our historic structures and I look forward to helping contribute to the preservation of Medford’s historic fabric. In summer, I can be seen performing with my band at the Medford Farmer’s Market and I very much enjoy walking my dog, Edward, past the Paul Curtis House and along the Mystic river paths.