“Gut Rehab” Concerns

If you’ve noticed an older property in your neighborhood that’s been *almost entirely* demolished in the renovation process and you’re wondering what’s up, you are not alone. Your Historical Commission has also been concerned about this trend in Medford development.

Below, see the full text of our recent letter to the Mayor on this issue –

A recent example on West Street, in the Hillside neighborhood.

Long story short, we’re worried that “the Building Department has rubber-stamped applications for building permits in a manner which has permitted property owners and developers to circumvent mandatory demolition review by the Historical Commission.”

If you have concerns as well, or examples from your neighborhood, please be in touch with us, or contact the mayor to support our letter!

Preferably Preserved: 43 Pleasant Street

The Historical Commission held its third Zoom public meeting last night. The primary business was a decision regarding 43 Pleasant Street, a house built before 1850 and located in area now known as “Old Ship Street” on the National Register of Historic Places.

The commission found the house “preferably preserved.”

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, 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.

43 Pleasant Street

At our June meeting on Monday the Historical Commission will determine whether the house at 43 Pleasant Street is preferably preserved, and in need of a delay of demolition.

At our May meeting, an application for demo permission was submitted by the owners of 43 Pleasant St in East Medford. This property falls within the boundaries of the Old Ship Street – our shipbuilding district – which is on the register of National Historic Places. However, this designation (unlike the Local Historic District designation) does not protect buildings in the area from demolition.

It does mean that the building has already been determined to be “historically significant.” Thus, our June meeting will proceed to the second step of the process, and we will determine whether or not the building is preferably preserved.

A copy of our surveyors’ Form B with a history of the building and its inhabitants is here.

The meeting will be Mon June 9 and full Zoom instructions are below –

The meeting will be held remotely via Zoom and to view and participate in this hearing please use the following:

Access this meeting via Zoom remote videoconferencing:
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/94922681587

Call in via phone:
One tap mobile: +19292056099,,94922681587# US
Dial in: +1 929 205 6099 US Meeting ID: 949 2268 1587

Access livestream:
The meeting will also be live streamed at https://medford.vod.castus.tv/vod/index.php/@live:ch3.
To participate while watching the livestream, questions and comments may be emailed during the hearing to HistoricalCommission@Medford-MA.gov. For information regarding this hearing, please visit www.medfordhistoricalcommission.org. Comments may be submitted prior to the meeting in writing to HistoricalCommission@Medford-MA.gov.

Cincotti’s Redevelopment Plans

We’ll be discussing the redevelopment plans for 421 High St (formerly the location of Cincotti Funeral Home, in West Medford) at our upcoming November meeting. Public input has been important to the process so far, and the current version of the developer’s plans are available here –

 417-421 High Street Plans

The rest of the meeting agenda isn’t finalized yet, but our November meeting will be held on Monday, Nov 18 at 7 PM in City Hall Room 201; it’s a week later than usual because of the Veterans’ Day holiday.

Street View of 421 High Street

A Google street view of the Funeral Home.

According to the report from our architectural historians, the building was a large single-family home until the 1950s, when it became the property of Concetta Cincotti, “daughter of Italian immigrant Ciro Cincotti (1883-1963), who operated a funeral home first in Boston’s North End, and later moved the business to Medford.”  Historical Commission members walked through the building this fall, and although the interior has some interesting details, the building is, inside and out, “heavily altered,” as the Form B (below) puts it.

421 High Street MHC Form B

NOT Historically Significant: 96-102 Winchester St

At our October meeting, the buildings at 96-102 Winchester St, near Ball Square, were found to be NOT historically significant and a demo permit was granted.

Whiting Milk
Photo from the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society, dated 1961

But the garages at 100 Winchester St were once part of an extensive and long-running commercial dairy operation –

The Whiting Milk Company, active between 1857 and 1973, was one of New England’s first distributors of milk and dairy products door-to-door. It was established by David Whiting (born 1810) in 1857. Whiting’s father, Oliver, owned a large farm in Wilton, New Hampshire. “With the advent of the railroad to Wilton, Mr. Whiting [David] inaugurated operations in the milk contracting business for the Boston market…”

milk map
Map from the USDA publication, “The Milk Supply of Boston” 1898

The firm was carried on by his son Harvey Augustus Whiting (1833-1903) and grandsons Isaac Spalding, George, John Kimball, David and Charles Frederick (1875-1972); Charles Frederick used his Harvard (1897) and MIT training to manage the dairy in a modern sanitary manner. Under the direction of David Whiting’s grandsons, the company merged with C. Brigham and Elm Farm Milk (both included in above map) to form a new corporation that, according to the Cambridge Chronicle of 1922, “employs more than 1000 persons and is one of the largest milk distributors in the country.”

In the 1950s, H.P. Hood and Sons and the Whiting Milk Company competed for the majority of the Boston milk market; the photo of the Whiting’s Milk truck at the top of the post is dated 1961. But the business of delivering milk and other dairy product suffered a national decline, due to increased consumer mobility because of automobiles. The company went into bankruptcy in 1973.

Still, most commissioners felt that the history of this company was not reflected in, or represented by the structures on the property at 100 Winchester St. Information above was adapted from the Form B for Winchester St_96-102.

Demo Application: 96-102 Winchester St

At our September public meeting, the Medford Historical Commission received an application to demolish the buildings at 96-102 Winchester St, in South Medford near Ball Square.

MHC Form A for 96-102 Winchester Street

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

streetview

The owner has already applied to demolish 104 Winchester (pictured above) and a demolition delay of 18 months has been imposed on that property, to give the applicant time to consider renovation, reuse, relocation and other alternatives to demolition.

Preferably Preserved: 109 Forest St

The home at 109 Forest St was determined to be preferably preserved at our August public meeting.

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 18 month delay, in this case, also allows time for the neighbors, and the Historic District Commission, to develop plans for a potential Forest St Historic District, which could protect the house, and its neighbors, from demolition.

The applicant is 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. If, in any case, 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 filled Alden Council Chambers to share their thoughts and concerns. Thanks too to residents who contacted us in writing. Everyone we heard from strongly supported preserving the house.

For a review of public comments, and details on the decision, please see our forthcoming meeting minutes.

Historically Significant: 109 Forest St

At the Historical Commission’s July public meeting, the house at 109 Forest St was found to be historically significant. At our August public meeting we will determine whether or not this building is also preferably preserved. That meeting will be Monday, August 12. Because there is considerable public interest in Forest St and its historic homes and buildings we would like to consider locations larger than the usual Room 201 at City Hall, so the time and location are yet to be decided.

If a building is found preferably preserved, an 18 month delay of demolition will take place, to give the demo applicant time to consider renovation, reuse, relocation and other alternatives to demolition. 

Forest

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.

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

The Form B for 109 Forest St PDF File 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.

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.]