A house on Kent Avenue has been cleared for demolition.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A 120-year-old house at the mouth of Kent Avenue was deemed not historically significant enough to delay its demolition, making way for new development that could be connected to a vacant adjacent lot on North Street.
The Pittsfield Historical Commission ruled this week that the structure, built in 1892, did not met the criteria in place to delay granting permission. The house will be demolished for an unspecified future development of the site, which lies next to a parcel where commercial retail property was also razed in recent years.
"It doesn't seem significant in any particular way," said commission member Kathleen Reilly, noting that neither the architecture nor its list of occupants suggested much of historic interest.
"None of the names caught my eye," agreed commission Chairman Will Garrison, of the ownership history provided.
The Kent Avenue lot was once owned by the Bohlman family, who ran Bohlman's Hotel and Tavern, further south at 143 North St., on the present location of the Brothership Building. It was occupied, from 1892 to 1941, by members of the Merry family. It was divided into a two-family home around this time, and housed a succession of General Electric workers and their families over the next decade. During the '50s and '60s, it was the home of two different downtown merchants, Fred Smachetti, who ran The Linoleum Store, and Charles Lahey, proprietor of the Mr. Music musical instrument shop.
The house has seen a steady cycling of shorter duration tenants since 1973, and underwent a number of modern modifications, such as siding and a clumsily added porch. The original style of the house is that of a Gablefront Colonial, a commonly seen style in the Northeast.
"I do not find the existing residence's architectural style to be historically significant due to the fact that it has been extensively modified without any respect to its original designer's intent," reads an architectural analysis but Michael Valenti, designer for SK Design, who put forth the application for the demolition, "and does not have any features that make it unique or important."
According to real estate records, the Kent Avenue property was purchased by Taylor Building Associates for $150,000 in August of this year. It is unclear what type of construction might be proposed to replace it, as the demolition application notes only an intention to develop the lot.
The property is adjacent to a lot that previously boasted a building containing several shops, including Ronnie's Cycle, Specialty Balloons and an eatery, and falls within the same BG general business zone, though it is not known whether any intended development of the Kent Ave corner would be tied to this North Street facing lot.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it's some sort of development project bringing those parcels together," said City Planner Cornelius J. Hoss, though he has not been made aware of any such proposal. "That's just my speculation. It would make sense."
The commission unanimously approved the application for demolition of the vacant house. Under the city's Demolition Delay ordinance
, removal of any building more than 75 years old is reviewed by the Historical Commission, which may advise a six-month delay only if the building meets certain criteria for historical significance.
To be considered significant, a structure must either be associated with one or more historic persons, events, or aspects of local history, or important because of architectural styles or features.