Return to Carlton Street

I am returning to the ruin on Carlton Street, what remains of a circa 1803 structure decapitated by a “developer” a few weeks ago, even though I don’t have much of an update. Work was stopped on the day after, and the shell of no. 25 is still standing—in a very vulnerable state that must be incredibly distressing for its neighbors to gaze upon. We are waiting for either the judgement of the city engineer or the city solicitor, maybe both, and then the developer will be brought before the ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals). There are two preservation agencies in Salem: the Historic Commission (which has jurisdiction over the city’s four local historic districts–see below) and Historic Salem, Incorporated (HSI), a nonprofit preservation advocacy organization. Both have been rendered relatively powerless by the demolition of 25 Carlton: the Historic Commission because the house is not located within its jurisdiction, and HSI because it has chosen not to even issue a statement to the effect of: We are sorry to see such an insensitive renovation of a historic structure. I have received hundreds of emails from all around the country in the past few weeks, expressing rage and disgust, but also amazement that this could happen in Salem. So that’s why I wanted to return to this house, to show that this could easily happen in Salem.

Historic Districts Salem

Ruin 2

Ruin 3

The three local historic districts in downtown Salem (there is a fourth on Lafayette Street)–just click to enlarge; 25 Carlton Street this past weekend; the plans posted in the window (which were produced by a structural engineer rather than an architect) show a gabled roof quite similar to that which was lopped off, but completely different fenestration in the front of the house, and and whole new rear addition.

10 responses to “Return to Carlton Street

  • unseenrainbow

    You think this is bad, did you see that Natick is thinking about tearing down a historically important 17th century home?

  • Brian Bixby

    And for the last month while taking care of an ailing parent, I’ve had to drive past where my home town’s historic inn burnt down a few years ago. Sigh.

    • daseger

      Another OMG–where have I been this summer? Obviously my perspective is too parochial! Loved that inn–I always used to stop by when I went to that lovely antique shop a few doors down. Groton is a beautiful town.

  • jane

    the proportions and therefore the rhythms of the proposed house have no relationship to the original house or the neighborhood. It is not just the fenestration that is wrong, but that the parts have no geometric connection to each other. The pieces are not part of the whole, just windows, roofs of various dimensions stuck on a box that fills the site.

    I hope you have photographed the parts that can be seen – for example the chimney stack. We don’t often get a chance to study the construction as it is covered up. Every photograph helps .

  • D.L. Cote

    It’s uglier than a pig with piles, if one can imagine it!

  • Peg

    Thank you for keeping on top of this situation. I live 3 houses away and am so saddened by the destruction of this building. (I am also concerned that the grayish loose insulation that is blowing around property and street may be a hazard – it doesn’t appear to be either horsehair or fiberglass)

  • Helen sides

    Thank you for continuing to focus on this house Donna. Having been on the Historical Commission I know first hand how tough to take this is and why we need to enlarge the districts. On a related topic, I currently serve on the Design Review Board which sadly only oversees that which is within the SRA or downtown district and some of the NRCC, North River Canal Corridor. The DRB’s purview should be extended to include all entrance corridors and beyond.

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