The Medford Historical Commission will hold a public hearing on the demolition of 16 Foster Court to determine if the demolition is detrimental to the historical, architectural, or cultural resources of the City of Medford. The meeting agenda and related materials are included below. Hope to see you there!
Here’s a rundown of the wide variety of decisions and discussions this month.
The Historical Commission had previously determined that the house at 16 Foster Court is historically significant; we will vote on whether it is also preferably preserved at a special meeting, currently scheduled for October 3.
We also voted to lift the demo delay at 130 Boston. This property was found to be Preferably Preserved earlier in the year. We tabled the release of the demo delay at 20 Otis Street.
We reviewed the submission of an application for a demolition permit from 8 Hamlin Street; a vote on whether it is Historically Significant will take place next month.
In addition, property at 80 Canal was determined to be NOT Preferably Preserved, and the property at 11 Orchard was determined to be NOT Historically Significant. These applicants will be granted their demolition permits.
We did not receive an application for 31 South Street, which was on the agenda, so we were unable to proceed with review.
And finally, we determined the Shiloh Baptist Church of West Medford to be Historically Significant. This designation will support their application for Community Preservation funding.
Thanks to everyone who took part in the meeting. If you have items for next month’s agenda, PLEASE send them to us via email ahead of time.
At our August meeting, we received an application for a demo permit for 11 Orchard Street. This begins the demolition review process – next month we will assess the building’s historical significance. 75-77 West Street had also applied for a demo permit this month but they will not need to continue the review process; we reviewed their plans and the developer is doing interior renovations, not exterior work.
We also voted to lift the demo delay at 76 Sharon Street, where the developer created plans that preserved much of the historic character of the home. This property was found to be Preferably Preserved earlier in the year.
There was also some discussion of the house at 16 Foster Court; built between 1804 and 1814 it is one of Medford’s earliest surviving examples of a New England Cape Cod. The previous developer, who had been before the commission in 2019, has sold the property and redevelopment plans are now unclear.
We also discussed the Site Plan Reviews we are preparing for the Office of Planning, Development & Sustainability, for redevelopment at 595 Broadway (a residential building) and 162 Mystic Avenue (Medford’s cannabis dispensary).
Although a historic property on Canal Street is currently in the midst of the demo review process and has been on the agenda, the owner did not post their “demo permit applied” yard signs to alert neighbors, so the Preferably Preserved vote must be postponed until September.
Finally, we introduced Kit Nichols, who will become a new member of the Historical Commission, replacing Abigail Salerno who left the commission earlier this year.
Buildings at 421 High Street, 16 Foster Court, 104 Winchester Street and 7 Lauriat Place were all determined to be preferably preserved at our April public meeting. Thanks to the Medford residents who shared their thoughts and concerns at the public meeting, and in writing.
For details on each decision, please see our forthcoming meeting minutes.
When a building is found to be “preferably preserved” an 18 month delay of demolition is imposed, to give the applicant time to consider renovation, reuse, relocation and other alternatives to demolition.
Each of the applicants 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, the demolition delay may be lifted before the 18 month period.
It’s a big meeting – with Cincotti Funeral Home in West Medford, a shipbuilding family’s early Cape Cod in East Medford, a 19th century gold leaf workshop, and a Ball Square beauty all on the agenda. Each of these buildings was deemed “historically significant” at the March public meeting. At this month’s public meeting the Historical Commission will decide whether or not each of these properties is also “preferably preserved.”
April 2019 Agenda
If a building is found preferably preserved, an 18 month delay of demolition will take place, to give the owner time to consider renovation, reuse, relocation and other alternatives to demolition. Meeting will be Monday, April 8 at 7 PM in Room 201 of City Hall.
At our March meeting, the Commission made the following determinations:
- 421 High Street – Found Historically Significant
- 16 Foster Court – Found Historically Significant
- 104 Winchester Street – Found Historically Significant
- 7 Lauriat Place – Found Historically Significant
Finding so many properties on our agenda historically significant is quite unusual for our commission, but each of these properties represents an interesting aspect of Medford’s history. Together, they make a fascinating timeline of past life and work in Medford.
Shipbuilders on Foster Court
The small Cape Cod on Foster Court was built between 1804 and 1814, making it one of Medford’s earliest surviving examples of the architectural form for which New England is famous. The Cutter House was owned and occupied by Rebecca Cutter, the widow of a soldier in the Revolutionary War, who supported herself after his death by taking in boarders in the small cottage. Her descendents, who later inherited the house, were part of the Medford shipbuilding families of Sprague and Foster.
The stately Italianate Seaver House on Winchester St is one of the earliest remaining buildings in Ball Square, a commercial and residential neighborhood which developed around the old “Willow Bridge” station of the Boston & Lowell Railroad line. The house (ca. 1865) still has much of its beautiful exterior detail and decoration.
7 Lauriat Place (ca. 1890), in Washington Square, was one of several gold-beating workshops owned and operated by the Lauriat family – a family of scientific innovators and experimenters who settled in Medford in the 19th century. They employed highly-skilled men and women in gold-beating – creating paper-thin gold leaf. The building itself is “an exceptionally rare survival of a small workshop for producing machine- and hand-worked artisanal goods.” Similar workshops “were once a common feature of the built environment of New England” but “have largely disappeared” and with them the history of this skilled labor as well. Quotes taken from the Lauriat Pl_7 Form B prepared by our architectural historians.
Cincotti Funeral Home on High St has been a community landmark where West Medford families have honored their loved ones throughout the 20th century.
Each of these buildings will have a public hearing at our April 8 meeting, to determine if it is preferably preserved.
If a building is found preferably preserved, an 18 month delay of demolition will take place, to give the owner time to consider renovation, reuse, relocation and other alternatives to demolition.
This month the Historical Commission received an application for the demolition of a small cape located at 16 Foster Court. Foster Court is a small residential side street located off Riverside Avenue. It was originally a lane to a landing place along the Mystic River. It later became the entrance to one of many important shipyards. The lane is named for Joshua T. Foster who owned the last shipyard to operate in the area.
The house itself is a great example of an early Cape Cod style dwelling. Its early construction date places it among the few early buildings remaining in the community. The development coincides with the rise of shipbuilding in Medford.
The Historical Commission will update this page as the building moves through the review process.