NEWBURYPORT — The Oliver House, a landmark structure on Plum Island, is for sale again and the future is unclear whether the property will “continue” as a bed and breakfast or perhaps be taken down in favor of a single-family residence.
The facility, which opened in about 1900 as a guesthouse, is located at 245 Northern Blvd. Though it has been uninhabited for decades, it represents one of the last old hotels on the island.
The Oliver House was built in Salisbury and transported by barge across the Merrimack River, according to local historians. Among its notable visitors was Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion (1908-1915).
But vacancy can result in disarray. From the road today, it looks like an unsteady timepiece in danger of being served with a demolition notice.
However, land on Plum Island is highly valued and contractors can be quite handy when it comes to breathing life into a structure under duress.
Only the next owner can know how the century-old building will fare in the future.
“This is a unique property,” said Gretchen Maguire, a sales representative at the ReMax on the River office, the listing agency. “It could be used for a bed and breakfast, or perhaps separating it into two townhouses. There are many opportunities here.”
There is also a building permit available in place to construct a single residence where the Oliver House now stands.
In addition to the Oliver House, the property offers a second home on the property, which is inhabited. A shed is also part of the property.
A sign on the front lawn states, “two properties, 16,988-square-foot lot, with architectural plans for stunning renovation.”
Square footage of the 13-room hotel is 3,298; square footage of one-bedroom cottage, built in 2009, is 645, according to city records.
Cost price for the total package is $999,000, according to the agency’s website.
The property is owned by Kevin and Deborah Raftery of Newburyport, who purchased it in 2008, according to the municipal assessor’s office. They did not returns calls requesting comment.
Bob Murray, a retired carpenter and contractor who lives on Plum Island, remembers when the property was inhabited. But he said that reconstructing the Oliver House would be difficult.
“It would be a monster of a job to rehab it in its current shape,” he said. “I remember people living it in it in the ‘60s but it’s been vacant for many years.
“It was repurchased a few years ago, and there were rumors that it would be rebuilt, but that was such a big project, and it never got done.”
Those representing the property say it has been approved for building permits, and that water and sewer tie-ins are in place.
In a year when real estate professionals say that the market is improving in this city, a sale of the venerable Oliver House would represent the continued appreciation of an “older” property.