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January 16, 2012

Developer would give away historic building

BEVERLY — The company that plans to demolish one of the city's oldest buildings is offering a plan to save it.

Symes Associates executive Jeff Rhuda said the company will give the 300-year-old building away for free to anyone who wants to move it and will also help pay for the moving costs.

If not, the company will knock it down to make way for a Walgreens.

"It has to be removed from the property," Rhuda said. "It's devaluing the property."

The proposal to raze the building, located at the corner of Conant and Dodge streets in North Beverly, has sparked an online petition with more than 100 signatures and prompted local historians to call for its preservation.

Built in 1715, it is one of the last remaining First Period homes from Beverly's earliest settlement. It was the home of Nathaniel Greenwood, a captain in the militia and a member of the Sons of Liberty, a group of patriots that included John Adams, John Hancock and Paul Revere.

The Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. at the Beverly Public Library to consider the controversial project.

Historians and city officials say there is nothing the city can do to prevent the building's demolition once a one-year delay imposed by the Beverly Historic District Commission expires in May.

Rhuda said he talked to one person who was interested in moving the house but has not heard back from him. He said he would welcome calls from anyone else interested in moving it.

"We're talking thousands of dollars that we'll contribute (to the moving costs)," he said.

But one local historian said moving the building is inappropriate and unrealistic. Richard Symmes, who wrote a history of North Beverly called "North Beverly Remembered," said the building anchors that area along with another historic building on the opposite corner of Conant and Dodge.

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