IT IS ACTUALLY A FINE EXAMPLE OF HOW TO SAVE OUR PRECIOUS HISTORIC HOMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I proudly tip my hand to the real estate brokers who broadcasted loudly that they were looking for someone who, quoting them, stated,
“available for qualified buyers with respect & vision for antique home restoration.”
Apparently Lynda and Murray Berkowitz didn’t take the hint. THEY TOOK THE HINT! According to the legal notice in the Daily News today, they are requesting from the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals to give them permission to partially demolish the building so they can have the following:
“upward extension of a pre-existing non-conforming single family structure to allow for a full third story; and tear down existing porch and rebuild”
The ZBA are going to want to hear from the Newburyport Historical Commission if this is acceptable. Well, that is an easy one.
IT IS NOT! IT IS MOST CERTAINLY ACCEPTABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After reading the phrase, “upward extension” I immediately thought of the horrible trend of taking historic homes and clumsily adding an extra floor.
The proportions are all out of kilter and because of modern building code additions (Stretch Code); the extra floor is horribly outsized from the lower floors. There is a horrible example on Prospect Street between Lime & Federal and another example on Market Street.
I have a short temper and after finding out the rich history behind this house, I blew up imagining a ghastly added floor!
This apparently non-descript building on a tiny side street is loaded with not just Newburyport’s proud shipbuilding history; the occupants and their descendants are factored in a major way into our Nation’s heritage.
The full history behind the Captain Gideon Woodwell House is posted here.
The allure for a prospective home buyer lies in the position of this house – it has wonderful views of the Joppa Flats from several viewpoints making it a piece of juicy real estate for the New Gentrification crowd. You can even see from inside the house views of the harbor entrance.
But, there is a problem – the natural smallness of this home makes it not appealing to those who are craving the fine expansive interiors in such a prime scenic location.
And there is a second problem. It is an example of a rapidly shrinking commodity in our city, affordable housing. This structure is appropriate for either a first-time home buyer or someone who simply can’t afford the average Newburyport housing price of $595,464!!! It is not appropriate for someone who, with an expansive income, seeks all the luxuries that their money can buy!
I hope the Historical Commission and the ZBA understand the triple hit:
Loss of yet another historic home.
Loss of a house in the affordable housing category
Loss of a another home that factors into our heritage tourism
And eventually, as more of these humble homes are lost, the average taxpayer will have to foot the bill of ever increasing costs as our city’s average property values begin to plunge downward while our tax burden increases!
The Newburyport Historical Commission needs to convince the owners this is not acceptable.
Failing that, the NHC needs to impose a demolition delay
And the ZBA needs to hear from not just from the city but from concerned abutters and other citizens who are concerned at the gradual loss of our historic neighborhoods.
I WAS WRONG! (YES, I CAN ADMIT IT)
THE BERKOWITZ ARE ACTUALLY SHINING EXAMPLES TO OTHERS ON HOW TO APPROACH PROPERLY AN HISTORIC HOME.
THEY ARE MAKING THE THIRD FLOOR HABITABLE.
THEY ARE ADDING A DORMER ON THE SECOND FLOOR.
THEY ARE PUTTING SKYLIGHTS ON THE ROOF AWAY FROM THE FRONT. (VERY APPROPRIATE)
THEY ARE REPLACING THE GHASTLY PATIO DOORS WITH LOVELY FRENCH DOORS
THEY ARE SHARPENING UP THE DETAILS OF THE HOUSE WITHOUT ‘DISNEYFYING” IT.
See below, their plans:
I will personally make POSITIVE recommendations to the Historical Commission and the ZBA. (It will be a form of penance!)
PS. I’ll post the House History in case the links don’t work for everyone.