A farm house dating back to 1840 may be torn down, but the Historical Society of Watertown contends it should be saved because of the role it played in the town's past.
The Historical Commission will discuss whether to allow the demolition of the Orchard House, at 917 Belmont St., which is now part of Beacon High School.
In the written proposal, Beacon School officials said they plan to take down the building to provide more green space at the school.
The school has historic significance and is a rare style in Watertown.
"This Greek Revival frame house was built around 1840 for Abijah White, local land-owner, cattle baron, abolitionist and (according to Solon Whitney’s Historical Sketches in 1893) philanthropist. The building is not only one of the oldest houses left in town but also an architecturally important example of its style," the letter from the Historical Society reads.
Abijah and Ann Maria (Howard) White both descended from members of the Boston Tea Party and were committed abolitionists. The land was settled by the Stearn Family in 1662, and remained in the family until Boston Tea Party participant Captain Phineaus Stearn passed it to his nephew Abijah White, according to the record for the property from the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Society Information System.
The couple hosted anti-slavery gatherings on their property.
The White family had a mansion on Main Street, but it was torn down in the 1960s.
"This farm house so far, remains, more humble but no less a part of the town’s history," the Historical Society letter reads.
The Historical Commission, which is not related to the Historical Society, will discuss removing tearing down the school house, which is now part of a larger, 3,095-square-foot building.
The school approached town officials in 2006 to see if they could take down the building, said Conservation Agent Christopher Hayward.
"The Historical Commission had not problem with them tearing down the back of the building, but asked if they could save the front part and preserve it in perpetuity," Hayward said.
The school did not agree to take that step, Hayward said.
The Historical Commission rules on the demolition of any building over 50 years old, Hayward said. In such cases, the Building Inspector will not issue any building permits without a demolition permit from the Historical Commission, Hayward said.