The Wellesley Historical Commission is lamenting one of the town’s latest and most stunning teardowns: a 1929 Tudor Revival at 1 Kenilworth Rd., originally built for a cousin of Babson College’s founder and sold last October for more than $3.7M. Reportedly, the 4,800 sq. ft. home will be replaced with a bigger one, as is the prerogative of the buyer.
The Commission has shared a brief history of the home, as written by advisory member and local historian Joshua Dorin, on its Facebook page. The house was designed by George Marlowe, who also designed buildings at Wellesley College and Babson College.
The Commission, which seeks to preserve and protect the architectural and general cultural feel of Wellesley, can raise awareness of historical significance of buildings in town (as it did with the recently torn-down 24 Linden St. home), but doesn’t have the power to stop demolitions. The Commission has been in dialogue, for example, with the team converting the Wellesley Hills train depot into a new Caffe Nero, and that team has agreed to “treat the building with the respect it deserves.”
“There is very little ability to stop [teardowns of historically significant properties] from happening in Wellesley,” says Grant Brown, a Commission board member. “All of our abutting towns have demolition delay bylaws, the vast majority of our ‘peer’ towns do, and 148 in total across the Commonwealth have them. A bylaw would not prevent a homeowner from tearing down a property, but it might stem the current pace (which is 1 house demolished every 3.6 days).”
Wellesley came close to passing a bylaw in 1991 to slow down demolitions, which back then weren’t even all that common, and the Commission has designs on getting Wellesley to agree on some sort of rule changes next year. Dover, Natick, Newton and Needham all have such rules in place, as the Townsman documented in this article earlier this year.