The Day After: Teardown?

As many of you predicted, the same “contractors” who tore the roof off a circa 1803 house on Carlton Street in Salem and exposed its interior to yesterday’s driving rains returned early this morning to complete their work. Their employer, the developer Jewel Saeed, is apparently out of the country. Much of two walls came down before several Salem building inspectors ordered them to focus solely on cleaning up the sodden boards that lay around the house rather than continuing to strip it bare. I really, really didn’t want to go see this crime scene again but I trudged over there: to document, I suppose. Once there, I started snapping away, and the contractor came over and asked me where I was from: to which I replied “Salem”. He then said they were not tearing the house down, but were preserving 50% of it, while his workers continued to throw its (former) frame into a huge dumpster. Plans for the new two-family house were posted in the front facade of the old. I find this deliberate destruction of a historic house so upsetting that it’s a bit difficult for me to focus, so I think I’ll just get a few facts out for now. While it was painful to look at 25 Carlton Street this morning, I am glad that I went over there, as there were several neighbors and city councilors on site and I was able to learn some interesting things, including the fact that Mr. Saeed has never even applied for a demolition permit. All of the neighbors seemed to agree that Mr. Saeed’s contractors were working very quickly to rid the house of its roof on the day before the storm, and that the house was in fairly good shape when he purchased it a year or so ago, from a woman who had lived there for fifty-eight years. That’s really all I can say/write right now; I think I’ll let the photographs speak say the rest.

Teardown 006

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25 Carlton Street on August 14, 2014: front and side views and a close-up of its exposed center chimney.


18 responses to “The Day After: Teardown?

  • John

    Wow, really distressing. Obviously this Saeed guys has little fear of penalties. I wonder why?

  • Dorothy V. Malcolm

    This is a debacle, an unmitigated debacle. I’m deeply upset about this.

  • Erin

    Still can’t get over this. So wrong.

  • Psychic Witch Myrtlelyn

    This should be Criminal. This is just awful.
    Salem is and has been one of my favorite cities my whole life. The history, the architecture has always been so awesome.
    Not just Witch Hysteria History.
    Salem has so much to offer and to do this to this beautiful home is just Criminal.
    I am so sorry this idiot bought this home , just to destroy it 🙁

  • Lisa

    Thank you for documenting this. I share your distress, it’s shameful.

  • Steve@An Urban Cottage

    I’m stunned this could happen in Salem. The house was no architectural gem but it doesn’t matter. It’s representative of what was being built in that place at the time and that should be protected.

    It doesn’t even seem structurally sound at this point.

  • Donna Thorland

    I feel sick over this.

  • daseger

    I share all sentiments here and am grateful for your commiseration. I am likewise stunned, distressed, sick–will continue to monitor and update the situation while I move on to other more hopeful topics. I guess that the next step will be the judgment of the city engineer, and I suppose (hope) repercussions.

  • Abigail Bates

    I hope we can all come together and take action. This can not continue..
    Please watch for details of meeting etc. In the Salem News.

  • Rick Ouellette

    Scandalous. They were trying to sneak in their vandalous handiwork, not only before it rained, but also before officials and residents had time to re-act. Thanks for bringing this to light.

  • MarkD60

    That is terrible, When they started the Ritz Carlton here, they cleared much more land than they were authorized to, including acres and acres of mangrove.
    These are the kind of people who should be in jail. This would be a deterrent to future lawbreakers. This type of “crime” always slips under the wire.

  • Jessica Herbert

    Donna, Thank you posting this story and photos. After yesterday’s official City STOP WORK ORDER, this project will now be required to come before the City Zoning Board of Appeals before any further work can begin.(Meeting date to be announced).—–It is most unfortunate that these developers, motivated by personal financial enrichment, don’t realize that restoring an historic property is much more financially advantageous to them than tearing down unprotected historic buildings to build new structures or inappropriately altering valuable historical resources such as this 200+ year old house at 25 CARLTON STREET.—People come to Salem because of the rich cultural history and diverse and important historic architecture and pay significantly more to own historically preserved homes. —It remains to be learned if this project will come before the HISTORICAL COMMISSION. That will happen only if it is determined that more than 50% of the building has been demolished—technically moving the work done thus far from rehabilitation to demolition. If it does come before the Historical Commission the developer will be seeking a waiver of the City’s 6-Month DEMOLITION DELAY ORDANCE to be able to begin work again.—It is my sincere hope that with “appropriate encouragement” this developer will rebuild this historic property as it was originally designed, including an appropriate and respectfully designed addition—I will be doing what I can to achieve this end.

    • daseger

      Thanks for you comprehensive response, Jessica–obviously there is a lot of interest.

    • Dorothy V. Malcolm

      Thank you, Jessica! What a disgrace this Carlton St. issue is!

      Now let’s hope there will be fewer “modern architecture” buildings going up around Salem. Destroying what we have, and/or erecting soulless, vapid square boxes (aka, buildings) will never reflect the historic charm of this city.

  • Sean

    This is a fantastic case for historic districts. This story proves neighbors care about the old buildings where they live, and having to approve paint colors is a small price to pay to avoid wholesale demolition or redevelopment of historic areas.

  • Jean B.

    That’s disgusting! I am getting increasingly (if possible) distressed by the ruination of old and antique houses. I would like it if such houses did NOT end up in the hands of contractors and builders, only to be demolished, partially demolished, gutted etc. Here in Boston’s western burbs, I am watching nice antique houses that still have MUCH of their character being transmogrified into modern horrors, This is so wrong! We need strict laws and very high penalties for doing such things NOW, while some of these gems still remain.

    BTW, a town clerk in a town where I am working on local genealogy and history told me that people can do anything they want with the interiors of historic houses. WHY? I hope that someday I can “rescue” an antique house… and that I am able to dictate that whomever occupies it after I do will NOT modernize it, even if that brings down the price quite a lot. This has to stop,

  • Mary Ellen

    Wow, hard to believe it’s been a year. The house has been completely rebuilt, is absolutely hideous–and still not even close to complete. OSHA arrived last week after a worker was severely injured. And they blacktopped the ENTIRE property.

    • daseger

      I know, Mary Ellen–I’m planning a “return to 25 Carlton Post”. It’s just awful–and I couldn’t find a single reference to the developer being fined.

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