Gorgeous Wellesley homes recognized for historically sensitive renovations

The Wellesley Historic Commission (WHC) last week awarded plaques to homeowners who completed historically sensitive renovations of two of Wellesley’s proud older structures. The homes themselves, 51 Glen Rd., built in 1721 and 309 Walnut St., built in 1900, seemed to glow right along with the delighted families at the praise heaped upon them by the WHC. The plaques read:  “The Wellesley Historic Commission commends you on your outstanding home renovation and expresses its appreciation of your efforts to preserve our town’s historic character.” The plaque was signed by Grant Brown, Chairman (no relation to The Swellesley Report Browns) and Lawrence McNally, Vice Chairman.

51 Glen Road, in pictures

51 Glen Rd., Wellesley
Gary Vanasse and Angela Sousa share 51 Glen Rd. with Vanasse’s sons Nicholas, 17 and Andrew, 13. The boys attend Buckingham Browne & Nichols school and have a very sweet 3rd floor set-up that includes their bedrooms and a teen hangout room for video gaming. Vanasse and Sousa are expecting a baby in October to help fill the 7 bedroom, 4 bathroom 5,000 square foot house.  Sousa led me on a tour that touched on four centuries without ever leaving the house. “As we worked on the house, we had to remember at this point the walls are horsehair plaster, then over here they’re not.” she said


51 Glen Rd., Wellesley
Angela Sousa is presented with a plaque from the Wellesley Historical Commission Chairman Grant Brown. See that little circle on the molding, just above the plaque? That’s part of the area where the gas lines used to run. The circle moulding covered up the sight of wires, and the family has left that and other such historical markers intact throughout the house. What’s brand new to the home is what you’d expect — a new HVAC system and fully updated bathrooms. Some windows are new, some are not, but all are done the expensive way — with historical accuracy.


51 Glen Rd., Wellesley
This section of the house dates from the 1700s. The chimney is no longer functional but remains as a reminder of the home’s past. The wide-plank floors are also original. The exercise equipment, not so much.


51 Glen Rd., Wellesley
The kitchen has been completely renovated to work for today’s family. The space it occupies has served as the heart of the home since the 1700s, so you know the flow and logic of the house still work.


51 Glen Rd., Wellesley
The floors in this section of the house are mid-1800s old-growth oak.


51 Glen Rd., Wellesley
The big family room was added on in 1901 and was built to be a library. The door offers easy access to the backyard.

“When we were first looking at it my stepson said, ‘Angela this place is so old it could be haunted. We can’t move in to a haunted house.’ So we saged the house before we moved in.” Problem solved. That’s how Sousa rolls.

For the record, there’s never been any suggestion of paranormal activity detected at the house. The sage ceremony, a ritualistic way to cleanse a place of negative energies or influences, was more of a family bonding activity than an actual spirit shoo-ing.

The for-real part has been the trials and tribulation of a major renovation. At one moment Sousa concedes, “We bit off more than we were expecting. We didn’t fully understand the level of renovation and the amount of time this would take.” But at the next moment Brown, Sousa, and I are all swooning over the original fireplace tile and the rich look of the hardwood and original moldings, and the gracious flow of the house and the size of the rooms. For a moment, all the work and construction challenges are forgotten as we revel in the beauty of the results.

You’d have to be nuts to tear down 309 Walnut St.

Next I stopped in at 309 Walnut St. to check in with Luke and Zemira DelVecchio and their 5 kids, Agnese, 11; Isaiah, 9; and Miriam, 6; who attend Schofield Elementary School. There’s also Mark, 3; and John Paul, 8 months — you’ve still got time to prepare yourselves for them, Schofield.

Luke’s got serious Wellesley chops having grown up in town on Apple St. He’s done the Triple Wellesley:  Hunnewell Elementary, Wellesley Middle School, and Wellesley High. Then for good measure he went for the quadruple and did his undergraduate at  Babson. Luke and Zemira are our former neighbors, and they swear they didn’t move out of the neighborhood because The Swellelsey Report was just getting too loud. And even if the’re telling a little white lie, as you can see we just follow them wherever they go. There’s no escaping The Swellesley Report.

I walked into the kind of party atmosphere that’s always happening in a house with five kids. “Hi!” said one as I walked in, waving so exuberantly he fell off the sofa. No tears though, because what good would that do when in two seconds another “crisis” will surely crop up, eclipsing his own? I barreled right in and inserted myself into just another day in paradise with an active family living life in a house that was built to take it in 1900, then renovated in 2017 to take it some more. The six bedroom, 4.5 bath 4,500 square-foot house graciously absorbed me into the controlled chaos.

We’ve posted about this house before, back when contractor Jim Mealey first bought the place in an online bidding process. As he got going on the restoration he was treated as a mini-celebrity. People stopped and thanked him for what he was doing as he worked to bring the house back from years of neglect.

Here are a few pictures:

309 Walnut St. Wellesley
General contractor Jim Mealey (jamesdmealey@comcast.net) bought 309 Walnut St. in 2015 an online bidding process. The house, which abuts the Warren Recreation Center, had stood empty since 2012.


309 Walnut St., Wellesley
Wellesley homeowners Luke and Zemira DelVecchio, and general contractor Jim Mealey receive a plaque from Wellesley Historical Commission Chairman Grant Brown in appreciation of their outstanding renovation of their 309 Walnut Street home and their “…efforts to preserve our town’s historic character.” The house dates to 1900. Eight-month old John Paul approves.


309 Walnut St., Wellesley
The newly renovated kitchen stands up to heavy-duty action, as it’s been called upon to do for the last 118 years.


309 Walnut St., Wellesley
Welcome to the DelVecchio’s. The front door boasts a stained-glass window with the house number.

The Wellesley Historical Commission isn’t done yet. They have plaques to hand out to two more homes. Those addresses have not yet been made public.