A timely article in Globe West today about a contractor in Needham trying to save older affordable homes in Needham from demolition by buying, renovating and selling them. Here’s what the developer, Barbara Jones, told the Globe:
“Just to take down an old house because it is small and you can build a 4,000-square-foot home on the lot, it takes away that opportunity for a family just starting out,” Jones said. “I want to preserve the older homes and keep the charming feel of our 300-year-old town, while providing homes in the price range that is becoming increasingly rare — $600,000 to $800,000.”
I say timely because just yesterday I got a letter from the Newton Historical Commission, because a house across from me, built in 1900, is proposed to be partially demolished and added onto. (At least this time I got a letter, and a mis-delivered one that should have gone to another neighbor. Last demolition, I never got any notice at all from the city. The Historical Commission might want to consider certified mail.)
I don’t know if this is a typical month, but I was rather taken aback by the volume: seven requests to fully demolish, one for waiver of demolition delay, and four requests to partially demolish and add additions.
One of the full demos is 111 Webster Park (pictured here in Google Street View), built in 1890 and “NR Listed” which I presume is National Register of historic buildings, because it is one of the remaining two-family “workers cottages” that are part of West Newton’s history. (There are two similar ones on Webster Street across from the playground.) Tearing this one down would be a singularly bad idea.
Are we doomed to see every moderately priced house in Newton eventually torn down for something bigger, probably 50% more expensive (if not more) and with the accompanying loss of permeable surfaces and open space?