A Drowned House in Salem

I seldom publish two posts in one dayand especially on such divergent topics–but a photograph of an old house on Carlton Street in Salem popped up on Facebook this morning, and I can think of little else. The simple colonial house had been shorn of its roof and top story, by all accounts in the past few days, and left completely open to the elements: just in time for the driving rainstorm we are experiencing today. I ran over to look at 25 Carlton Street in the early afternoon, and it was indeed drenched, inside and out, even more forlorn in appearance now that the floodgates have opened. This was deliberate and brutal decimation: the house looks like its top was sliced off with a chainsaw. The interior has been gutted as well, and what is referred to as a “massive center chimney” in its MACRIS inventory removed. No tarp in sight. I have never seen a worse case of demolition-by-developer, whose name was still conveniently legible on the building permit: Jewel Saeed, of Swampscott, Massachusetts, who appears to own several convenience and liquor stores in the Boston area. Let us hope and pray that he sticks to his day job and stops preying on historic houses in the future.

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25 Carlton Street on August 13, 2014. The house was built by or for Salem shipwright Thomas Magoun c. 1803. Below: contrasting views of the house on a better day and today.

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22 responses to “A Drowned House in Salem

  • Steve@AnUrbanCottage

    It’s pretty shocking someone would leave it open to the elements like that. Is there no protection for houses of a certain age in Salem? I suspect he’s adding a third floor?

    • daseger

      Hi Steve. Well, it had a third floor! I guess the roofline didn’t suit him. There are protections in place for many historic neighborhoods but they don’t always work, especially when you have a developer with evil intentions. I’m not really sure what’s going on here–there is obviously a building permit in place.

  • thesalemgarden

    That is truly unbelievable.

  • jane

    I suspect he is allowing ‘deterioration’ and water/mold to make the house impossible to repair, justifying demolition. That summer beam and joist system visible through the window is irreplaceable lumber. We don’t have any of those trees left.

  • Hannah Skahan Diozzi

    There is a demolition delay ordinance that affects any building in the city, not just in the designated local historic districts, that’s over 50 years old. When a demo permit is applied for (which apparently didn’t happen here) the building dept determines building’s age and refers the applicable ones to the Historical Commission. SHC then votes on whether to permit the demo or invoke the demo delay which prevents the building, or any part of it, from being taken down for six months. The purpose of the delay is to persuade and assist the owner to explore options for preservation vs demolition. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the developer/wreckers just run the clock.This building looks doomed, but there should be severe financial penalties for doing this w/out a demo permit.

  • Erin

    This is horrible!!

  • Rick Bettencourt

    Oh, for the love of History!

  • Psychic Witch Myrtlelyn

    OMG. What horrible destruction of such a beautiful old home.

  • John Hernandez

    You revoke the building permit for his willful destruction of historical property, you condemn the building as now being structurally unsound. He is now financially responsible for the demolition. The site is cleared, and he is left with a small patch of yard that is illegal to build on. His financial losses will be great, as they should be, and Salem can buy back the property (or sue to gain ownership of the property), and turn it into a tiny public park. While the loss of the house cannot be undone, he will lose his entire investment, and the residents of Salem will improve their neighborhood with some greenery. Best of a bad situation.

  • Cotton Boll Conspiracy

    Not much to like about this, but I’m glad you’re documenting it. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of dilapidated modern structures that can be gutted and turned into something else.

    You might consider bringing this to the attenion of the local media. If I were a reporter in your neck of the woods I’d be all over this.

  • Boris Pickets

    Built Ca 1803,
    A crying shame that this was done. Disgusting

  • Boris Pickets

    I spoke to Cheryl Richardson at the Salem News this morning and made her aware of the concerns about such a building being demolished.
    She has been to your page here and read this thread.
    Her extension at the Salem News is ext 2664. She sounded like there was an interest..Hopefully she will follow up and we may see something about this in the newspaper. I gave her your name as well if she cared to contact you.Maybe some awareness will prevent future tragedies like this from occurring.
    Boris Pickets
    AKA (Barry Swift)

  • Melissa W

    It is awful to see such a blatant disregard for history. Too many historic buildings have fallen already. Thank you for continuing to document this tragedy. Hopefully it will help save others from the same demise.

  • Nelson Dionne

    This is just the latest in a long line of “rape & pillaging ” of the housing stock , that has taken place in and around the Bridge St neighborhood. over the past decades. The mix of commercial / industrial activity intermixed with housing has left this corridor into Salem ( & Boston St. too ) missing out on much of what has improved the quality of life in recent years. Note that both areas could use more participation in their neighborhood associations.

  • Brian

    His kind does not belong in Salem or that part of the Nation why doesn’t he move to places in the country where they don’t value historical buildings I know more than a few on the west coast.

  • What We've Lost - Salem, Massachusetts ~ Mass History Commons

    […] my research, I stumbled upon a blog post about the demolition of 25 Carlton Street, one of the oldest structures on the street. The c. 1803 […]

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