, Salem, MA

November 20, 2007

The Stamms: a grand new house on the rise

Amanda McGregor

DANVERS — Richard and Stacey Stamm have had three addresses in the last year, but they still aren't home.

The Stamms closed on a new house at 108 Water St. in Danvers on Nov. 21, 2006 -- just 16 hours before the chemical plant explosion that destroyed their newly purchased home, along with more than 20 other houses in the neighborhood.

"It's definitely been an experience I wouldn't want to repeat," said Stacey Stamm, as she stood at the construction site of her new home on a chilly evening recently.

The old house was demolished last winter, and now, after various construction delays, the Stamms hope to be home in time for the Super Bowl in February.

"It's a great prediction that we (the New England Patriots) are going to be in the Super Bowl, so I'm going to pick that day," said Richard Stamm. "We just want to get in."

The Stamms lived in Arlington before they bought their house in Danvers. After the explosion, they moved to the Embassy Suites on Route 1 until they found an apartment in Hamilton. In August they had to leave Hamilton, so they moved to an apartment in downtown Danvers.

"It's not your space, and everything is in the wrong place," Stacey said of living in rented, furnished apartments.

Their 14-year-old daughter, D.J., has struggled amid the turbulence of the last year, and Stacey is bracing for the holidays without the family's Christmas decorations and keepsakes, which are still packed in a storage pod along with their winter coats.

"Now I have Christmas for a 14-year-old and not a stitch to put up," said Stacey. "We're going to do an edible tree this year, with gingerbread men ornaments and a Fruit Loop garland, so we're trying to make it fun."

The bright side is that the Stamms are building their dream home -- with cathedral ceilings, a gabled roof, large bedrooms, a sweeping deck, and grand windows with a view of the Crane River -- and at 3,000 square feet, it's double the size of their former house, built in 1911. The only piece they could salvage from their old home was the front door.

"We're the house of 11 gables -- not seven," Richard said with a laugh as he looked up at the shell of his new house. "It's a little bigger and bolder. It's gorgeous. We're almost there.

"The main concern is getting in. I just want to relax and cut the grass."