DANVERS — The desire by preservationists to preserve two old homes in town did not carry over to an office building that was once a cottage on the sprawling grounds of the former Danvers State Hospital.
Last week, the Preservation Commission voted that the building at 240 Newbury St., which once had been home to the nonprofit Special Olympics Massachusetts, was not “historically significant,” nor was it “worthy of preservation,” said the assistant director of Planning and Human Services Susan Fletcher. This ruling paves the way for a demolition permit to be issued for the Queen Anne Revival home, she said.
The building may have been considered historic when the cottage sat on the grounds of the former Danvers State Hospital, Fletcher said. The former mental hospital’s grounds on Hathorne Hill have since been redeveloped into a large apartment and condominium complex. A senior living facility has been built on the lowlands.
Many of the historic features of this 1888 building were removed when the property was renovated in 1989, Fletcher said. About two-thirds of the building is new.
The building can be seen from the on-ramp to Route 1 south at the Route 62 (Maple Street) interchange.
“Inside, it’s all modern offices,” Fletcher said.
Last Wednesday night, the Preservation Commission voted a six-month demolition delay for the 1665 Porter-Bradstreet homestead at 487 Locust St. because it is considered a First Period Colonial home. It also decided to impose a demolition delay on a decorative Queen Anne Revival where the Mackey Funeral Home is located at 22 Conant St. The Archdiocese recently purchased the home to demolish it to build a parking lot for St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish next door. Preservationists said those delays were motivated by a desire to preserve the streetscape leading to Danvers Square.
In April 2010, 240 Newbury St., which sits on a 1.435-acre parcel, was purchased by Boxford-based Ured LLC for $755,000. It’s assessed at $823,000, according to town records.
Richard Trask, the town archivist, said the building used to be known as Cottage No. 1 and served as employee housing for the state hospital complex. It was included in the inventory of buildings at the former state hospital when it was listed with the National Register of Historic Places in the mid-1980s, Trask said. The building was the best preserved of six cottages that once led up to the state hospital.
“It was built for a dwelling for one of the more important staff at the hospital,” Trask said.
Trask said Special Olympics Massachusetts bought the property before the state sold off the rest of the hospital property. The organization added on to the building and installed vinyl siding on the exterior. In 2009, Special Olympics Massachusetts moved its headquarters from this building to a new, 25,000-square-foot office building and training center in Marlborough.
Trask said one interesting feature is a half silo that contains a stairway on the side of the building. This feature was mirrored in the modern addition. While it may make good office space, the building is no longer historically significant, Trask said.
A call to a representative of the building, Danvers attorney Nancy McCann, was not returned by deadline.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.