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2006 Top Ten Endangered Properties

This is the third annual list of top ten endangered properties in Dorchester, identified and prepared for announcement by the Architectural Preservation Committee of the Dorchester Historical Society.

The DHS has been in the business of preservation since 1891, when it saved the Blake House theoldest house in the city of Boston (ca. 1648) from demolition. The architectural Preservation Committee was formed in 2004, and works to raise awareness of architectural treasures in the larger Dorchester and Mattapan community. The ArchPres Committee has the short-term goal of saving specific threatened properties and the long-range goal of encouraging the preservation of Dorchester?s character and sense of place.

The properties identified as being endangered thus far in 2006 follow:

1.) Tileston House (ca 1770), 13 River St. ? A 1994 Boston Landmarks Commission cultural resources study report states: ?This house was built ca. 1770 and ranks among the oldest houses in the Lower Mills West area. Although altered by vinyl siding, this house's distinctive 5-bay, 2-pile, gambrel roof form provides clues to its early origins.? The house is currently for sale. The Lower Mills National Register eligible historic district is under extreme development pressure.

2.) Jones House (1804) 65 Pleasant St. ? This five-bay, Federal Period manse was built by the Jones family ? for whom Jones Hill was named ? after their 17th-century house on the site burned. It is currently for sale by owner. It sits on a large corner lot that could make it a target for teardown. As well, in 2003 its zoning was changed from single family dwelling to 4-6 family units, indicating that denser redevelopment is a possibility.

3.) 45 River St. ? This small red structure, which may be a remnant of the oldest Dorchester school, is the third property on this short stretch of River St to be slated for demolition in the past two years.

4.) 111 Pleasant St. ? This elaborate Second Empire house with a prominent corner turret is apparently empty and boarded up. The rear of the building shows signs of a (recent?) fire. Windows and roof are open to the weather in places. The yard and adjacent lot are overgrown and filled with junked cars. The building?s poor condition and hidden location on two large lots owned by the same person (John Mahan, et al.) make it a prime candidate for a tear-down or destruction by vandals.

5.) Samuel Clap House (ca 1830), 125 Stoughton St. ? This tiny old house is in tough shape and sits on a large, overgrown corner lot. It is apparently owner-occupied but is a prime candidate for a tear-down due to its small size, poor condition and prime location. According to the 1995 Boston Landmarks Commission Jones Hill inventory: ?The plain Federal cottage at 125 Stoghton Street, long associated with the Clapp family is one of the oldest houses in the study area, dating to at least 1830.?

6.) St Mary?s Church ?Episcopal (1888), 16 Cushing Ave. ? The parish is struggling due to a decline in membership and resulting financial troubles. The roof is in poor condition, and its stucco exterior is falling off in places. The building also gets constant hard use by community groups, resulting in further damage. This is an extremely important building architecturally ? it was the first and only parish church in the city designed by Henry Vaughan, one of the original architects of Washington Cathedral - and is listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places.

7.) Putnam Nail Factory/Seymour?s Ice Cream, 12 Ericsson St. ? Developers have begun to work with the Boston Redevelopment Authority to construct an extensive condo project.

8.) 131 Centre St. ? This small early house is deteriorating from neglect.

9.) Robert Ball Hughes House ?Sunnyside?, 3 School St. ? This was the home of noted sculptor Robert Ball Hughes, who moved here in 1851. The house, located at the corner of School and Washington Streets, had been owned by Captain Jeremiah Spalding, a ship-master in the East India trade. Here they entertained some of the world's leading celebrities including Charles Dickens. The Dorchester Historical Society has Ball Hughes' bust of Washington Irving. The current owners may not be aware of the historical significance of their property.

10.) 615 Adams St. ? In 2005 the Nathaniel Tolman House at 386 Ashmont St was listed as endangered. The developers saved this house, but plan to demolish 615 Adams for access to the large lot encompassing both properties for their large residential development.


LOST: 1615 Dorchester Avenue, the Joseph Foster House of ca 1820, was demolished last year after developers were able to quickly circumvent the public notification process of demo delay.

24 Grampian Way (Savin Hill) ? This property has been listed for the past two years. Rumors have been circulating that a developer is interested in the property, but concerned community members have not yet contacted the DHS with particulars.

LOST: 9-11 Grant Place (Lower Mills) ? Listed in 2005, the developer demolished this circa 1810 structure located within the boundaries of the National Register eligible Lower Mills West District.

103 Minot St. (Adams Village) ? Listed in 2005, the Seth Crane House, a ca 1840 Greek Revival cottage (which may be an even older house moved from another site) was to be razed to construct a 2-family townhouse, but ended up being completely gutted and is undergoing [insensitive] rehab.

#86 and #96 Neponset Ave. (Popes Hill) ? No word on what developers plan for these properties.

LOST: 223 Neponset Ave. (Pope?s Hill) ? the developers [also involved with 1615 Dorchester Ave] quickly demolished the 1893 George Frost Mansion despite promises to the contrary.

487 Norfolk St. (Mattapan) ? Listed in 2005 in response to plans to raze the historic Fowler-Clark Farmhouse, built between 1786 and 1806, and ca. 1860 stable, for twenty condo units. The property has gone through the landmarking process and is now a Boston Landmark. No word on sale status.

44 Virginia St. (Upham?s Corner) ? Plans to demolish the George Milliken House (1881) surfaced in 2004, after that year?s List was announced. The Archdiocese of Boston wanted 55? wide access into their extensive property on Columbia Rd. Neighbors submitted a landmark petition, a Boston Landmarks Commission study report recommended the house be designated a Landmark, but the designation has been stalled at the request of the Archdiocese.

PROGRESS MADE: This past year, the city?s Demolition Delay policy (Article 85) was amended to include language encouraging public involvement in a good faith effort to consider alternatives to demolition. Also, a Mass Historical Commission-funded project to update the Dorchester and Mattapan BLC surveys was initiated, which will incorporate the latest in mapping GIS technology.

For more information about the DHS ArchPres Committee, please contact Rosanne Foley,, 857-221-6045 or visit online


- presented at the Dorchester Historical Society?s Annual Meeting May 18, 2006 by
Rosanne Foley, chair of Architectural Preservation committee

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Here are some images from the Atheneum archive related to this topic. Click on any of these images to open a slideshow of all 1497 images.
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Created: November 11, 2006   Modified: November 11, 2006