Pittsfield Historic Commission Approves West Side House Demo
By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent Print | Email
A two-story house at 163 Daniels Ave. dates to 1888 but a fire sealed its fate for demolition.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A late 19th-century house badly damaged by fire several years ago lacked sufficient historical criteria to delay its removal, the city's Historical Commission determined at a hearing on Monday.
The simple two-story house at 163 Daniels Ave. has traceable ownership records dating back to 1888, though its origins may be slightly older, with the style of its construction suggesting erection sometime in the 1870s.
Under an ordinance passed in 2007, the commission can recommend a six-month delay of a demolition application to reconsider possibilities in the event a building meets certain criteria of historical significance, but commission members did not uncover any key local significance in the ownership background of the home.
Known owners from the past century included local school educators, though the property was originally owned by Franklin Read, a longtime school committee member, and later state representative, who owned and managed a number of properties locally.
Kevin Pennell of Pennell Construction, the applicant to demolish the structure, said the owner's intent was to make clear the property for sale as a buildable lot. The house is one of at least three boarded-up houses in the same vicinity on Daniels Avenue.
"It's not salvageable," Pennell told the commission, "The Fire Department basically gutted it."
The commission tabled a second application, however, for the demolition of an addition to a South Street building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The structure, a two-story brick addition to an older building at the corner of South and West Housatonic streets, was constructed in 1920. Scarafoni Associates, the applicant for demolition, described its architecture as "unremarkable," but members of the commission found the research provided by the firm insufficient.
In particular, the commission took issue with a lack of any information provided about the architect or builder, a topic which forms one of the criteria of historical significance they are tasked with weighing in consideration of any demolition sought for a building over 75 years of age.
Based on its location in a historic district and attached to a historic register property, the commission felt there may already be sufficient reason to give pause to demolition, and insisted on more information from the applicant, tabling the application to their next meeting with a request for additional due diligence.
"We don't have the information, and I don't think there was a lot of effort made to find it," said Reilly. "I don't think we can allow demolition at this point."
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