The email from a Wellesley reader intrigued us.
“I have what may be an interesting story for you: there is a lovely Tudor at 9 Peirce Rd that was lovingly renovated and landscaped over a decade ago. It was once owned by Curt Gowdy. It was purchased by a trust in April 2014 for $5.72 million. I don’t believe anyone has ever lived there since that property transfer; it has appeared abandoned for years. I just noticed this week that the branches and other debris that had built up in the driveway have been removed, but otherwise there are no signs of life. Apparently there are no liens on the property, so the property taxes are being paid. Why would anyone pay that much for a house and let it fall into such disrepair?”
So many onion layers to peel back on this one.
First off, the 8,700 square-feet, 19-room 2-story home with 7 bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms has a somewhat historic provenance. It was at one time owned by Curt Gowdy, a prominent sportscaster in the late 1960s and early 70s, who was known as the “voice of the Red Sox” for fifteen years. He became the Red Sox play-by-play announcer in 1951, and spent 15 years announcing for the Sox. He and his wife, Jerre, raised their three children there, Trevor, Curt Jr., and Cheryl Ann. Curt Gowdy died of leukemia in 2006.
A Boston Globe obituary noted that Gowdy worked at NBC most of his career, and was known for his warm voice, which helped win him 13 Emmy Awards. His announcing stats: Gowdy broadcast 16 World Series, 9 Super Bowls, 8 Olympics, 12 Rose Bowls, and 24 NCAA Final Fours. He was a member of some 20 halls of fame including baseball, football, and basketball. The Red Sox inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 1995.
Town records show that 9 Peirce Rd., was built in 1939 on 1.92 acres of land. In 1958, the Gowdys bought the home from Josiah Lily. The Gowdy family held onto the home for 33 years until 1991, when they sold it for $1,317,000. The home changed hands again in 1994, this time going for $1,790,000. The next property transfer came 10 years later, in April 2014, when the ownership changed to CB 353 LLC for $5,720,000.
CB 353 LLC, the owner’s name listed in town records, is rather a mystery. It is unknown who the nameless, faceless humans are behind the LLC, or why they let the $6.5 million home just sit there. The lawn hasn’t been mown in so long, it’s changed over to meadow. Paper coffee cups and other other minor bits of trash that have blown into the yard over the years stay there. Nothing gets picked up in that yard unless the wind decides to do a bit of clearing out. Not that there’s anything illegal about that. Town of Wellesley Executive Director Meghan Jop says, “There are no bylaws related to vacancy or tidiness.”
There is a Town Bylaw (Article 53) that is related to Public Nuisance, but Jop says that bylaw is generally meant to deal with properties that are littered with substantial junk and debris. Lots that have a serious trash problem or that are being used for storage of various materials would fall under Article 53. Properties where the rhododendrons have gotten a bit out of hand and a few more slates fell from the roof after another winter are not subject to Article 53.
The owners of 9 Peirce Road do tend to their accounting, let’s give them that. According to the most recent property taxes receipt, a property tax bill of $19,539.01 was paid by South Dakota Trust Company LLC. A voicemail from The Swellesley Report to South Dakota Trust Company was not returned.
Jop says, “We have received several complaints from abutters in the area over the past two years. The Town has tried to identify the owners to reach out to understand why the valuable parcel is sitting vacant, but contact has been challenging as the owner is an LLC out of South Dakota.”
The Board of Health, Animal Control, and the Building Inspector have all been to 9 Peirce in response to resident complaints in 2018 and 2019.
Jop said, “The Town most recently received a complaint in June and had folks out there to inspect. The Board of Health looks for animals, stagnant water, mosquito breeding areas, etc. If there are reports of animals, the Animal Control Inspector will look to see if there are dens or animals appearing to penetrate the building. The Building Inspector reviews whether the structure is safe from a building code standpoint as well as secure from animals and/or whether it appears that has been habitation from transient people. Most recent reports in June have indicated substantial growth in vegetation over the past year, and more deterioration in the building. A few slate roof tiles have fallen and some areas of the brick and mortar are crumbling. There was no stagnant water and all three (Health, Building, and Animal control) have verified the building is secure.”
Animal Control officer Sue Webb said, “Lately the Board of Health called regarding concern from a citizen. I walked around the property. Lots of tall grass, but no sign of animals having access inside any building. All seemed secure. There was nothing out of the ordinary”
Lenny Izzo from the Board of Health said, “We were out at that property two times, both at the request of the Selectmen’s office. The first time was in September of 2018 and again in June of 2019.” Izzo noted that during both site visits the property was overgrown, however, “The structure itself was secured from the areas I checked and I found no evidence of large animal activity into the structure, though I did in June note one area in an eve that looked like a squirrel and chipmunk damage. From the best I could tell the interior, looking from the windows, all was intact and not damaged. The overgrown property had signs of small animals like rabbits and most likely deer activity. I did not find any health or environmental hazards during our visits. There’s no pool or areas of standing water that would breed mosquitoes or present a safety risk. There’s nothing, from what we saw in or around the structure that would attract unwanted pests such as rats.”
The future of Peirce Road
There are only two kinds of homes on Peirce Road. Those that are kept in pristine condition, and those that are torn down and given a fresh chance at pristine. That’s how serious they are about keeping up appearances on Peirce Road.
But in every neighborhood, there’s always one outlier. Usually it’s not a $6.5 million outlier, but this is Wellesley. We can’t say when this house will go on the market, if ever. Once it finally does, it just might end up with the distinction of becoming Wellesley’s most expensive tear-down. Or, to throw out an idea, we’re available for house sitting. We’d help the place look more lived in.