Owner, neighbors agree on plans for demolished house

By Andrea Ray | Aug 25, 2017
Courtesy of: Mike Russo A revised design for the condominium building to be built at 41 Main Street.

Marion — A historic house in Marion has been demolished, and will be replaced with a similar-style house after an agreement was reached between the developer and the property abutter.

In July, Mike Russo, the owner of 41 Main Street in Marion, was granted a demolition permit by Marion's Building Commissioner, Scott Shippey. The move to demolish the historic building riled neighbors and the Sippican Historical Society.

The house at 41 Main Street was built for eminent mariner and early Marion resident Captain Stephen Hammond, and was finished in 1802. It existed for years as a two-family apartment prior to being placed for sale. Russo intends to replace it with a two-family condominium.

Abutter Bob Darnton, of 42 Main Street, was only informed of the house's planned demolition when he inquired about the removal of several large trees at 41 Main Street.

Darnton is a member of the Sippican Historical Society. The Society called an urgent meeting upon receiving the news. "What we were most concerned about," explained Sippican Historical Society treasurer Judith Rosbe in an email, "is that the property owner could get a demolition permit without informing abutters of the property."

Darnton appealed the Building Demolition permit issued by Shippey on July 25, hoping to find time to find alternatives to demolition.

Darnton had been willing to suspend the appeal if Russo would either save the front of the home, or rebuild the home so that the front kept with the style of the saltbox house already present. Russo was not willing to do so at the time.

Now however, the circumstances have changed, and Russo, Darnton and other members of the Sippican Historical Society have come to an agreement.

"[Russo] and I met outside of a Planning Board meeting," Darnton explained, where I told him that I hoped we could meet a constructive solution. I assured him my opposition was nothing personal, I just have strong feelings about historic houses disappearing. I told him that I hoped he could maintain the historic appearance of the front of the house, and he considered it."

To that end, Darnton, Sippican Historic Society president Frank McNamee and Historic Society member John Delli Priscoli met with Russo in the office of Marion architect Will Saltonstall. Saltonstall designed Russo's original plan for the new building at 41 Main Street.

At the meeting, Russo and Saltonstall explained to the Historical Society members what the extent of neglect and disrepair at 41 Main Street was, and how impossible it would be to finance a historic restoration of the building.

"The meeting with Bob, Frank and John was very productive and we took into consideration as many of their comments as possible. The major changes we made were to recreate the previous facade of the home and to move it a few feet closer to the street to keep with the character of the current property and the others on Main Street," Russo explained.

Saltonstall redesigned the plans for the house based on input from the Historical Society members, returning the front appearance of the building to a more traditional saltbox appearance. "A traditional saltbox has a long, sloping roofline," Darnton said, "but unfortunately that was impossible to keep. Still, this was a compromise, and we were able to work things out," he said, explaining his decision to lift the demolition appeal.

"It is sad to see a historic house disappear," added Frank McNamee, president of the Sippican Historical Society. "We could've fought it, but it would have been demolished anyway, just at a later date. It is [Russo's] property, he can do as he pleases with it. I'm pro-business, I understand money must be made."

Of the meeting, McNamee said said that it was a "very productive session."

"Will made an excellent plan," he added, "and [Darnton] was satisfied that it least looked historical and fit with the area. We did the best we could and came up with the best plan that we could under the circumstances."

"Although by legal right I did not need to change any of my design, I was appreciative of [the Historical Society's] input," Russo stated. "I hope that everyone involved in this process—Will, John, Frank, Bob and myself— can be an example to others in how differences of opinion can be worked out successfully and without negativity. Overall I feel that the new design is quite attractive and I looking forward to building it."




(Courtesy of: Mike Russo)
(Courtesy of: Mike Russo)
Comments (1)
Posted by: candscann | Aug 27, 2017 12:13

So smug and self satisfied! Money made: opposition crushed and mollified. Profit guaranteed! Frank...WHOSE business is rewarded? Russo's, not so much the community. Condos lower the real estate value ... Restored properties raise it. Nice developerspeak Mike, when the public opinion is against your personal vision, it's negativism? Be nice if this makes people wake up.

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