EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 25, 2013

Kingston selectmen to decide fate of house next week

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — KINGSTON— The Grace Daley House may be down to its last life.

After many efforts to prevent the historic building from being demolished, selectmen will have the final say next week on whether it will survive the winter.

“We want to hear from people on both sides of the issue,” Selectman George Korn said. “Based on what we hear, we want to do our best to comply with what the people want.”

In March, Town Meeting voters refused to pay $150,000 to repair the building and gave the town permission to raze it. The building has sat on Main Street since 1834.

But since that vote, the Heritage Commission, Historic District Commission and Historical Museum Task Force have been trying to convince selectmen to preserve the building. Representatives from the organizations spoke to selectmen at their meeting Monday.

“We want to develop a plan which will save the building with no cost to the town,” said Debbie Powers, chairman of the Kingston Heritage Commission. “We want to present an alternative to put on the warrant at Town Meeting.”

Virginia Morse, chairman of the Kingston Historic District Commission, said she is working with New Hampshire Division of Historic Resources to determine what can be done to save it.

“They suggested a feasibility study,” she said. “They can help fund at least some of it.”

But there are other ways to find money as well.

Morse said there are 47 grants that the town could be eligible for, which would help preserving the building.

Korn said he and Selectman Peter Broderick listened to the presentations made by the groups and will wait until Selectmen’s Chairman Mark Heitz returns next week before making any decisions.

But Korn said he has yet to decide which way he is leaning.

“My position has to be what the townspeople want to have happen,” he said. “We had two warrants which passed last year, but I need to determine what I feel the townspeople want.”

Korn said the original plan was to demolish the building before winter.

“If it is done this year, It needs to be done before the ground freezes,” he said. “We don’t have to do it immediately, but I want to give everyone a chance to give their opinion. At this point in time, I’m open to all options, but certainly once the option is made to tear the building down, everything else is moot.”

Morse said the building could survive the winter with very little work being done, but not much longer.

“The building inspector told us we need a new roof by next year,” she said. “That’s the number one priority for us to figure out how to fund.”

Last month, the town reached an agreement with Kingston resident Robert Pothier of First Period Colonial. Pothier said he would dismantle the home and preserve the materials.

In addition to being a parsonage, it was also once a barbershop. After the town bought the building in 1972, it was used by the Kingston Community House, a nonprofit organization that operated a thrift shop there.