February 16, 2022
Larry Spang, Chair
Salem Historical Commission
City of Salem
90 Washington Street
Salem, MA 01970
Re: 6 Lathrop Street, February 16, 2022 SHC Meeting
Dear Mr. Spang:
We are writing to offer comment on the application for waiver of demolition delay of 6 Lathrop Street, which is being reviewed by the SHC at its February 16, 2022 meeting.
This property was constructed in the mid-1800s and is recorded on the state's inventory of historic assets (MACRIS form, attached). This house form, 2-1/2 stories with a gambrel roof to the street and primary entrance from the side yard, was common in Salem and nearby communities throughout the 18th and 19th centuries and is considered a locally significant form. This house has a “twin” nearby at 12 Conant Street, and both were owned by a baker named Joseph Gardner. The gambrel roof of this building, its height, and the location of the main entrance are original components of the building and key to its character. In addition, the gambrel roof form by design provides more head room than a traditional gable roof. Raising and changing the roofline and moving door and window locations would remove the essential historic character of the structure.
This house is listed as a contributing resource in the Bridge Street Neck National Register Listing. We believe that this, together with information provided on the MACRIS Inventory Form, qualifies the building as “Significant” in the Demolition Delay Ordinance. We have lost too many of these vernacular historic buildings that, taken together, provide tangible evidence of Salem’s significant architectural history. The building is nestled in one of the Salem’s oldest neighborhoods and without thoughtful preservation the continuity of history will be lost.
We ask the Salem Historical Commission to maintain the delay period at this point so that the Commission can work with the applicant to preserve the historic fabric and form of this building, as intended by the recently enacted Demolition Review for Historically Significant Buildings Ordinance. In addition, we extend the offer to meet with the applicants and the designer to see whether alternate design solutions could be found that respect this historic building and its surroundings while increasing the long-term value of the project.
Historic Salem regularly offers homeowners and developers professional review and advice on restoration and renovation plans for Salem’s historic buildings with the goal of employing best preservation practices while meeting the modern needs of building occupants. We would welcome the opportunity to work with the developer to examine alternatives that:
(1) achieve objectives to increase interior space, and
(2) minimize external structural alterations that would alter the true historic identity of the building.
It is our hope that the delay time period can be used for the benefit of the neighborhood and the historic resources therein, as well as for the owner to achieve their goals and begin the project.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments.
Vice President and Chair, Preservation Committee
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