, Salem, MA

Local News

November 19, 2012

Board delays demolition of historic house

Beverly: New owner hoped to remove later additions

BEVERLY — As a co-founder of iRobot Corp., Helen Greiner has helped make robots that have explored the pyramids of Egypt, swept the ocean floor for explosives and searched the caves of Afghanistan.

Now if she could only fix up her new home in Beverly.

A city board voted last week to delay Greiner’s plan to demolish part of a historic oceanfront house that she bought in July for $3.75 million.

The Historic District Commission ruled that the building is historically significant and “preferably preserved” and voted 3-1 to impose a one-year demolition delay.

Greiner will be free to proceed with the demolition when one year expires, but commission members hope the delay will persuade her to change her plans.

“I think there’s a way to be more sensitive in preserving the historic character of the house,” commission member James Younger said at the meeting at City Hall.

The house in question is known as the Gen. Charles G. Loring House, named after its first owner, a Civil War general who became the first director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Built in 1881, the house was designed by Boston architect William Ralph Emerson and is considered one of the country’s best examples of Shingle-style architecture. The Massachusetts Historical Commission has said the house meets the criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

With its arched porches, stone base and curved tower, the home is perched on a rocky outcropping overlooking the ocean at 441 Hale St. in Prides Crossing. It was taken care of for 40 years by Samuel Codman, a bachelor who lived there and gave tours of the home until his death, at age 100, in 2008.

Descendants of Charles Loring who live nearby on Hale Street repurchased the property for $4 million in 2008. Jonathan Loring told the Historic District Commission that the family gave a group called The Friends of the General Charles G. Loring House an option to buy it, but the group could not come up with the money.

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