Demolition Delay for Watertown's Orchard House Extended by Six Months

The Historical Commission extended the delay to prevent the historic farm house from being torn down.

The Historical Commission extended the demolition delay on the Orchard House for another six months, extending the term to the full one-year allowed under Watertown's bylaws.

The commission met on Dec. 13 to discuss whether to lengthen the term of the demolition delay. The board put the initial delay on the Orchard House – a farm house from built in the 1830s – when officials from Beacon High School applied to tear down the building in July.

As with the first hearing, several Town Councilors and other residents spoke out in favor of saving the building, according to Marilynne Roach, a member of the Historical Society of Watertown who attended the Historical Commission meeting. The Historical Commission voted unanimously to extend the demolition delay.

The Orchard House is one of the last Greek Revival homes left in Watertown and has historical ties to notable people associated with the Revolution, Abolition and Temperance movements, art, literature and education. It was named to the state's Most Endangered Historic Resources by Preservation Massachusetts this fall.

Officials from the Walker School, which runs Beacon High School, told town officials that they cannot afford to restore and maintain the Orchard House, which sits in the middle of the property at 917 Belmont Street. The school also uses other buildings on the property.

After the demolition permit was submitted, the Watertown Historical District Commission started the process to make the property a historic district so that the house would be protected.

In November, the Historic District Commission approved a draft application to create the historic district which will sent to the Massachusetts Historical Commission to be reviewed.

Walker School officials have said they want to work with town officials and residents to find a way to save the house, but they also oppose the creation of the historic district and will use any legal measures available to them to prevent it.


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