Search Results for: WHC
The temperatures say summer, but with Labor Day behind us and a school year stretched out in front, we have to admit it. The grasshopper days are over. Here’s what you missed in Wellesley if you were traveling and enjoying yourself, unplugged and unworried. We stayed on top of things for you. It’s what we do:
1) Local reporter (me) almost hit by car in Wellesley
Our top-read story over the summer concerned my near-flattened experience on Wellesley Avenue. Fortunately I wasn’t struck, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on the driver’s part. My experience certainly struck a nerve in town, and comments about similar close calls poured in. Readers also wrote in to express great relief that I squeaked through…aw, thanks guys. READ MORE
2) MBTA cut down hundreds of Wellesley trees
Anybody who takes the commuter rail hasn’t been able to miss the tree removal work that MBTA contractors have done. We got an email from a chagrined reader who characterized the work as a “horrible hack job” and noted that although “Our property doesn’t abut the tracks, we feel badly for those who do.”
I went down and took a look. Indeed, it’s not pretty. READ MORE
3) Wellesley mourns Robert J. Hinchliffe: Devoted family man, WWII infantryman, longtime town leader and volunteer
Wellesley lost one of its Greatest Generation heroes. As his obituary read, “Bob loved Wellesley and Wellesley loved him, choosing him to lead the parade twice, as the recipient of the Distinguished Service and the Veterans’ Honor awards. He was one of the half dozen longest serving Town Meeting Members in town history…” and the list goes on. Truly a pillar of the Wellesley community. READ MORE
4) Gorgeous Wellesley homes recognized for historically sensitive renovations
The Wellesley Historic Commission (WHC) awarded plaques to homeowners who completed historically sensitive renovations of two of Wellesley’s proud older structures. Among them: 51 Glen Rd., built in 1721 and 309 Walnut St., built in 1900. READ MORE
5) Wellesley dog photobombed by woodland creature — this you’ve gotta see. SEE IT HERE
6) The ant bikes came marching one by one into Wellesley
Wellesley wasn’t among the more than dozen communities selected to take part in a dockless bike rental system involving the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, but such bicycles have nonetheless started to roll into town. Ant Bicycle’s signature green bikes have been popping up all over the place… READ MORE
7) Wellesley Municipal Light Plant offers full internet service for commercial customers
The Wellesley Municipal Light Plant (MLP) on Monday, July 30 made a recommendation to its Board to offer internet service to commercial entities in town as the next step toward moving the program from pilot to permanent status… READ MORE
8) Wellesley mom gets Ambush Makeover on Today Show
Tiffany Zides, an already hot Wellesley mom, entered New York City as her usual self and left as one of “two great girls” plucked from the Today Show throng at Rockefeller Center to get an Ambush Makeover by fashionistas Louis Licari and Jill Martin. READ MORE
9) Wellesley neighbors facing real uphill battle over rehabbed house and yard
Here’s what can happen when a buyer snaps up the cozy Cape abutting your home, cuts down a few dozen trees, and brings in truckloads of soil. READ MORE
10) Is humble Wellesley news site (us!) an enemy of the people?
The call to take up words and defend the very bedrock of journalism came from no less an institution than The Boston Globe. We answered, with aplomb if we may say so ourselves. Before we knew it we found ourselves on the New York Times op-ed page. Yep, that’s what we did with our summer. READ MORE
11) Historic John D. Hardy house to go under review for tear-down
What makes this 132-year-old building historically significant is that it was the home of noted Wellesley civic leader John D. Hardy from its completion in 1896 until his death in 1924. Its association with Hardy is an important factor making it among the most historic houses in the Belvedere Estates/Wellesley Country Club area, and therefore Wellesley. READ MORE
12) Will Wellesley College ban dogs on Lake Waban?
As usual in these situations, two issues loom large: dog waste and unleashed dogs. READ MORE
13) Best of Wellesley Business Buzz:
Code Ninjas is coming into the space formerly occupied by Massage Envy. The computer learning center will welcome girls and boys ages 7-14 to learn to code by building their own video games.
Work continued at Door No. 7. The new chef-driven business from the operators of The Cottage is slated to open soon.
The venerable Page Waterman Gallery, founded in 1917, moved from its Church Square location to 592a Washington St., where its headquarters and restoration studio have been located since 1983.
Red Apple convenience store peeled out. No replacement business there yet.
Orangetheory Fitness, a chain that specializes in 60-minute cardiovascular and strength training workouts has started up its first classes at 56 Central St.
Earlier this summer Le Vernis Nail Studio moved into the former 2nd Time Around space at 574 Washington St., upping the number of nail salons in town to well over a dozen.
Smith & Wollensky steak house opened at the very beginning of summer in the former Blue Ginger space.
Coming soon: Fiorella’s Express, a fast casual Italian eatery at the former Susu Bakery location.
Wellesley Square at Beclare retail spaces:
CouCou, a stylish kids’ store opened in August
Laer Realty Partners added Wellesley to its list of approximately two dozen offices located mostly in Massachusetts
Pucker Gallery expanded beyond its Newbury Street location in Boston. The gallery offers international modern and contemporary art.
To look for soon: Barber Walters barbershop
Fiorella’s Express, a fast casual Italian eatery at the former Susu Bakery location.
Papa Razzi closed for renovations in July and has celebrated its re-opening with a larger bar area and a refreshed menu, and expanded parking. (They’re hiring, BTW.)
Mark’s Pizza was torn down to make way for that expanded parking. The pizza shop’s website says there are plans to re-open in a new location soon, perhaps at the former Zoots spot, but we haven’t heard much lately on this…
Real estate firm Realty Executives took over the Forest Street space in between Wellesley Variety and Deluxe Pizza.
White’s Bakery & Cafe is coming to Wellesley in the former TD Bank location in Playhouse Square on Washington Street. Expected opening in Fall 2018.
The Wellesley Historical Commission (WHC) on Monday, August 13 at 7pm in the Great Hall at Town Hall will review an application for demolition for 10 Livermore Rd, likely the most significant house from a local historical perspective to come before the WHC to date.
What makes this 132-year-old building historically significant is that it was the home of noted Wellesley civic leader John D. Hardy from its completion in 1896 until his death in 1924. Its association with Hardy is an important factor making it among the most historic houses in the Belvedere Estates/Wellesley Country Club area, and therefore Wellesley.
It’s so historically significant that it has triggered a review as an “Eligible Building” under Article 46 C. As WHC Chairman Grant Brown explains, “The article says that, with a few exceptions, any structure built before 1949 must put in an application to the Commission for a Preferably Preserved determination. If 10 Livermore is determined to be a structure that is Preferably Preserved, then a one-year demolition delay would be imposed. The article states that a building should be “…Preferably Preserved if tearing it down would be detrimental to the historical or architectural heritage of the Town because such Building is importantly associated with one or more historic persons or events.”
The 7 bedroom, 5 bath, 7,800 square foot home built in 1886 sold earlier this summer for $2,500,000. Like many who buy homes in Wellesley — some new to town, some long-time residents, and some who left for a bit and are now returning — the owners wish to tear down the house and build a new one. The design team we’ve been told is involved has a reputation for delivering to clients high-quality homes that fit into historic neighborhoods. Sometimes this is delivered by the team through renovation. Sometimes this is delivered by tearing down a home to make way for a new one.
You can go online and see a lovely Zillow slideshow of 10 Livermore Road. This is no pokey cottage that’s been neglected for decades. It’s a lovingly tended gem. The hardwood floors gleam, it’s light and bright, the rooms are spacious, and there are period details throughout. Still, homeowners want what they want. The argument here isn’t that current beauty shall be forced to give way to a cookie-cutter monstrosity. The argument here is over history on the one hand, and what owners want on the other hand.
What is the Wellesley Historical Commission?
The WHC is the primary advocate for the protection of Wellesley’s historic properties, both public and private. Their mission is to ensure that the historic structures and spaces that define the character of Wellesley are not lost for future generations. The WHC frequently collaborates with Town boards and departments, builders, realtors, and residents, providing expert advice on projects involving historic resources to ensure that growth can coincide with preservation. The group also advocates for public bylaws and private actions that encourage the preservation, restoration, and innovative reuse of historic properties. The WHC also oversees Article 46C of the Town Bylaws, Historic Preservation Demolition Review Bylaw (a/k/a the demolition delay bylaw), that went into effect July 1, 2017.
Can the WHC stop steel wrecking balls with their bare hands?
No, but the WHC can make it take a little longer than it would for a home built after 1949. One of the goals of the article adopted by the Town is to assure the preservation and enhancement of the Town of Wellesley’s historical and cultural heritage by preserving, rehabilitating or restoring whenever possible, buildings that have distinctive architectural features or historical associations that contribute to the historic fabric of the Town.
While the WHC has no power to permanently stop tear downs, it does try to at least make property owners aware of any historical significance if it becomes aware of possible changes to buildings. Grant says one of the goals is to “…begin a dialogue to consider alternatives such as renovations or additions, thus preserving the core structure.” So although the bylaw does not give the WHC the power to stop a tear down from happening, it does formalize a review process during which town officials and property owners might work out agreements that would preserve at least components of such structures.
If a building gets a “Preferably Preserved” status, owners are then encouraged to come back to the WHC through the waiver process. In that second step, the WHC would encourage the property owner to consider creative efforts to preserve as much of the house as possible which, if successful, would waive the one-year delay period.
Out with the old, in with the new
It’s a classic case of homeowners who insist on new vs. preservation-minded types who refuse to believe that an addition wouldn’t work to address 21st century living needs. At 10 Livermore, it’s not impossible to envision that tearing down earlier additions to the home, such as the one that includes the indoor pool, would ruffle fewer historical feathers while still allowing the new owners to enjoy all the advantages of new construction while preserving an important part of Wellesley history.
The general consensus seems to be that the design team involved has the experience and sensitive mindset to come up with a new house that fits the neighborhood architecturally. However, that’s only part of the point to some who say a new structure, no matter how beautiful and sensitively designed, could never replace the associative value of the old house.
Make new friends, but keep the old
The WHC has lately been working proactively in an effort to encourage the preservation of Wellesley’s older historic homes by rolling out the first awards in what is expected to be an annual thing for the “best” historic renovation(s) of the year. Here are the 2017 homes that were given the award. They feel that this could be an effective way of slowing the torrid pace of tear downs of historically significant buildings in town.
“While we all painfully aware of the exceptionally high number of tear downs in Wellesley, there are also impeccable renovations that celebrate and preserve the architecture and quality of our earlier homes and structures,” says Brown.
Presenting awards is one way the WHC can catch some of its flies with honey. However some say the good dousing of vinegar in the form of a one-year delay before removing history is necessary to temper tear-down enthusiasm. One thing is certain, the WHC says it’s a challenge to maintain Wellesley’s character in the face of tear downs and mansionization, noting that Wellesley’s Large House Review process hasn’t done much to stop the tear downs.
The likely scenarios
The WHC could look at the presentation for 10 Livermore and green-light a tear down. Or the WHC could look at the presentation and say that it should be “Preferably Preserved.” We will have to wait and see how it all goes on August 13.
As the WHC likes to point out, all of Wellesley’s surrounding communities such as Natick, Dover, Needham, Newton, and Weston have demolition review bylaws. Also, a survey conducted by the Wellesley Planning Board’s Residential Development Working Group late last year found that almost three quarters of respondents said they were concerned about the number of tear downs in town and the impact of new construction on the town’s character.
A 2016 Wellesley Townsman review showed that 95 tear-down permits were issued in 2015, way up from 13 back in 1991 when a demolition delay bylaw nearly passed at Town Meeting.
What about YOUR house?
An option that homeowners, neighbors, and the town can consider is the “Single Building Historic District” designation. There are four homes in Wellesley that fall under this designation. It is a voluntary way to permanently protect structures from demolition. Contact the WHC if you are interested in this for your home. According to Grant, some Massachusetts towns have forced this designation on property owners given the significance of those structures, but it’s not something Wellesley has ever done.
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
“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:
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.
The Newton-Wellesley Hospital Charitable Foundation has announced that its eighth annual HopeWalks event will be held on Sunday, Oct. 1. HopeWalks is a 3.3-mile neighborhood walk to benefit cancer patients and their families by supporting the Integrative Support Services offered at the Vernon Cancer Center.
Online registration is now open at www.nwh.org/hopewalks.
The HopeWalks route will begin and end at the hospital and all ages are welcome. Check-in will begin at 9am, with opening ceremonies starting at 9:30am. The walk will then set-off at 10am. Each walker is asked to raise a minimum of $100. The online registration fee is $30 per walker prior to Sept 15. For those who register by paper or on the day of the event,the registration fee is $40. Children 10 and under are free. Corporate sponsorships at all levels are available. For more information, please contact(617) 243-5915 or firstname.lastname@example.org
From The Wellesley Historical Commission:
The Wellesley Historical Commission, a seven-member volunteer board of Town government, is seeking residents to fill several principal board member vacancies.
The WHC is the primary advocate for the protection of Wellesley’s historic properties, both public and private. Our mission is to ensure that the historic structures and spaces that define the character of Wellesley are not lost for future generations. We frequently collaborate with Town boards and departments, builders, realtors, and residents, providing expert advice on projects involving historic resources to ensure that growth can coincide with preservation. We also advocate for public bylaws and private actions that encourage the preservation, restoration, and innovative reuse of historic properties. The WHC will also be overseeing newly adopted Article 46C of the Town Bylaws, Historic Preservation Demolition Review Bylaw (a/k/a the demolition delay bylaw), effective July 1, 2017.
You can learn more about our recent activities — including establishing new Historic Districts, advising Town boards on historic preservation projects, and expanding our signature historic house plaque program — at www.wellesleyhistoricalcommission.org.
Members are appointed by the Board of Selectmen for a three-year term. Knowledge of architecture, construction, historic preservation, governmental affairs or political advocacy are strongly encouraged, but not required. If interested, please email a brief statement with your interests, qualifications, and contact information to email@example.com by Friday, June 9, 2017. We anticipate that we will schedule candidate interviews during a to-be-determined evening meeting in June 2017.
Arvid von Taube, Chairman
Wellesley Historical Commission
There will be a public hearing on the Demolition Review Bylaw on Wednesday, February 15, at Town Hall, in the Great Hall at 7pm.
The Wellesley Historical Commission (WHC) held multiple public forums last year to discuss the high number of tear downs in town and to get the public’s feedback on a proposed historic preservation demolition review bylaw.
Wellesley is surrounded by communities with such bylaws, and the WHC says that as a result, Wellesley is targeted even more by those willing to tear down historic homes. About three-quarters of residents in a survey said they are concerned about the number of tear downs in town.
The WHC says, “A Demolition Review Bylaw provides for a review of demolition permits for historically significant buildings, and can invoke a demolition delay period for such buildings. The purpose of the Demolition Review Bylaw is to provide a pause before a building is demolished to allow an opportunity to consider alternatives to demolition and encourage renovations and/or additions instead. During the delay period, the building owner and the Historical Commission can explore opportunities to preserve, rehabilitate, or adaptively reuse the building. All decisions whether to impose a delay come after a public hearing that is open to all, including Town residents, abutters and neighbors.
“The proposed Demolition Review Bylaw applies only to primary buildings (i.e., not sheds, garages or other ancillary structures) built prior to December 31, 1949. If an owner wishes to tear down such a structure, the owner would file a short application with the Planning Department staff who would review and determine whether the Bylaw applies to the building. If it does, a public hearing before the Historical Commission would be scheduled to determine whether the building should be preferably preserved. If, after hearing from the owner, residents, abutters, neighbors, and considering the factors enumerated in the Bylaw (see the definition of “Preferably Preserved” in Section B), the Historical Commission determines that the building should be preferably preserved, a 12 month delay on demolition would be imposed. If a building is built after the cutoff date or is determined not to be preferably preserved, the owner may apply for a demolition permit with the Building Department in the ordinary course. Please see this flowchart for a graphical flow through the process.