February Agenda

A busy agenda for next Monday; we will be reviewing applications to demo for 4 properties in Medford. If you want to see the demo review process start to finish, this is how it starts. Note – we are still looking for a new member to replace an outgoing commissioner and complete the commission. If you are interested and have any questions, or want to learn more, please stop by!

Historical Commission Seeks New Members

Medford Historical Commission Call for Letters of Interest

The Medford Historical Commission seeks letters of interest from qualified individuals within the Medford community to serve on our board.The Medford Historical Commission and the Medford Historic District Commission share the common goals of preserving and protecting the City’s historic character and heritage.

The Medford Historical Commission was established under Section 8d of Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws and Chapter 48 of the Medford Municipal Ordinances. The Commission is the official City body charged with the identification of properties and sites in the City of historical significance and is the principal adviser to the City on matters relating to historic preservation. The Commission is further charged with reviewing all requests for demolition of buildings 75 years or older, or are listed on the National and/or Massachusetts Registers of Historic Places, in accordance with the City’s demolition delay ordinance.

Applicants should have interest, knowledge, and experience in fields related to historic preservation and Medford history.  Interested applicants may contact the Commission for further information. Please include your name and contact information, as well as any supporting material.  Candidates may be contacted by the Commission for an interview. The Commission shall then present a list of nominees to the Mayor for final selection and appointment. Those selected to serve on the board generally serve three years.

Please submit letters & materials to:
Candidate Selection Subcommittee
Ryan D. Hayward, Vice-Chairman
Medford Historical Commission

Email (preferred): HistoricalCommission@Medford-MA.gov

Regular Mail:
Please contact us for regular mailing address (City Hall access is limited)

Preferably Preserved – January 2021

At our January meeting we voted that both the property at 15 Hadley Place AND the property at 75 South Street should be preferably preserved. In both cases, neighbors expressed concern that the loss of these homes would be a detriment to the character of the street and neighborhood.

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. However, the demolition delay may be lifted before the 18-month period, if a plan is developed that addresses the concerns of the public and the commission. The applicant is always invited to return to the Commission’s upcoming public meetings to present plans and alternatives and to discuss the preservation concerns that their neighbors and the commission have.

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

We also voted that the building at 403 Riverside Avenue was NOT historically significant. When, after review, a building 75 years old or older is deemed NOT historically significant a demolition permit is granted.

To review all our demolition cases under review, see our index of Demolition Review Cases.

January 2021 Agenda

This month’s agenda is now available, along with all Zoom info for remote participation.

At our monthly public meeting, this month on Monday Jan 11, the commission will be determining whether or not two properties – one on South Street, and one in Haines Square – are preferably preserved. We invite all residents and members of the public to share their thoughts on these properties with us – you can email, or attend the meeting next week.

Past posts and documents on 75 South Street, and 15 Hadley Place.

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’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 those 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.

Potential Demolition: 23 & 31 South Street

The Medford Historical Commission had a request to discuss the possible demolition to two buildings on South Street, numbers 23 and 31, to accommodate a new apartment building. The Commission discussed the process with the potential purchaser and provided the inventory forms prepared for the properties as part of the Medford Square South Neighborhood Survey project. These inventory forms provide an architectural description and historic narrative on which the Commission bases its review during the demolition delay review. The proposed building plans are included for the public to become familiar with the potential project.

23 South Street – the Richardson – Hayes House. Although hidden behind vinyl siding, the building is a center entrance Greek Revival which matches others along the street.

Demo Application: 75 South Street

The Medford Historical Commission has received an application for the total demolition of the building located at 75 South Street in the southern half of Medford Square (Medford Square South). The applicant plans to build a new three-family residence on the site. The building, which dates to the nineteenth century, is a contributing resource to the South Street streetscape. Entirely residential, the historic road was once the way to the ford on the Mystic from which Medford derives its name. The houses were once home to the shipyard owners, many of whom moved here after living near the Riverside Avenue yards. They were later home to some Medford notables. Several forms can be found on the Commonwealth’s MACRIS database. The Commission will determine significance at its December meeting.

75-77 South Street looking North toward Medford Square.

Click here for the neighborhood overview for Medford Square South from the Survey Plan.

116 Dover Street: Not Historically Significant

At our November Meeting, the Historical Commission found the house at 116 Dover Street to be not historically significant.

The building is a good example of an early 20th century residence whose style has been in use in New England for over 200 years. However, the building was unfortunately struck by lightning and was a total loss.

The Medford Historical Commission received the application for the demolition of the Cape Cod building located at 116 Dover Street in West Medford in October. Because the building is not a danger to the general public, the building required review by the Commission and followed normal procedure. A single family residence will replace the existing building.

116 Dover Street looking toward the front of the building. It is unusually oriented away from the street and has an attached garage at rear.