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.

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.

Historically Significant: 120 Jerome Street

This month, the Commission voted to find the house at 120 Jerome Street historically significant.

The building is an early 20th century bungalow that maintains a fair amount of its original character. This particular neighborhood is part of the larger Smith Estate subdivision, which was developed in the late nineteenth century. Large houses on corner lots and main streets give way to smaller, modest, examples of residential architecture. This house is one of many middle class buildings erected on speculation and sold to first-time homeowners. The builder and occupant relate to the broader neighborhood, which you can read all about in the information below.

120 Jerome Street. The building fabric will be irreversibly altered resulting in loss of integrity and thus triggering the demolition delay

Click here for the neighborhood overview for West Medford from the Survey Plan.

Last month, the Medford Historical Commission received the application for partial demolition of 120 Jerome Street in West Medford. At our December public meeting we will determine whether or not this building is also preferably preserved.

Demo Application: 15 Hadley Place

At our November meeting, the Medford Historical Commission has received an application for the demolition of a large Queen Anne Victorian located at 15 Hadley Place.

Located just off Salem Street, the building was constructed in 1896 on a small lane which has since become a vital traffic link when Interstate 93 was constructed in 1956. The building was set back when the road was widened and survived largely unaltered since.

15 Hadley Place as seen looking west from the street. The building is located halfway between Washington and Salem Streets.

Click here for the neighborhood overview for East Medford from the Survey Plan.

202 Middlesex Ave – Historically Significant

At our October public meeting, we voted to find the Queen Anne home at 202 Middlesex Avenue “historically significant” based on the architectural descriptions and family research in the Form B, shared in our previous post.

For the full discussion of our decision, please see the recorded Zoom meeting, at Medford Community Media.

Due to some scheduling irregularities, we will not vote on whether the property is also “preferably preserved” until our December meeting, on December 14.