EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 2, 2013

Historic Kingston home given a reprieve

Demolition of the Grace Daley House is put on hold

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — KINGSTON — The Grace Daley House will be going nowhere — at least for the near future.

Selectmen voted on Monday night to postpone the demolition of the historic home in order to give local groups an opportunity to come up with a plan to save the building.

“We are delighted,” said Virginia Morse, chairman of the Kingston Historic District Commission. “We know they were in a tricky spot, but we are glad that they gave us the opportunity to pursue this.”

At Town Meeting, voters refused to pay $150,000 to repair the building and gave selectmen permission to raze it. The building has stood on Main Street since 1834; it served as a parsonage for many years.

In August, the town reached an agreement with Kingston resident Robert Pothier of First Period Colonial Preservation. Pothier had said he would dismantle the home this winter and preserve the materials.

But Pothier said he won’t be upset if he’s unable to do the job.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “What I would have done would have been a last resort. It would be too bad if it went away.”

Selectmen did put one condition on the future of the building.

“The understanding is that no town funds would be used for this project,” Selectmen’s Chairman Mark Heitz said. “There has been renewed interest and we aren’t anxious to tear it down.”

Heitz said he heard from a couple of people who wanted to see the building torn down, but many more residents came to him with wishes to save it.

“We’re very happy right now,” said Debbie Powers, chairman of the Kingston Heritage Commission. “We received very positive messages from this.”

Heitz said the Heritage Commission, which was formed at Town Meeting, was a key factor in selectmen’s decision.

“If a group wants to spend thousands of dollars out of their own pocket, then that’s something I will get behind,” he said. “I respect people who are able to get that done.”

Morse said the group received three $100 donations at the meeting on Monday.

Heitz said selectmen would likely give the groups a year to come up with funds to save the building.

“If they aren’t making substantial progress by then, then we may have to do something,” he said.

Morse said the town is working with the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources to come up with the best plan for the home.

“There’s a lot of things we can do,” she said. “It could be fixed up, put up for rent and be a revenue source. It could be sold to become a private residence. There are so many what ifs.”

In addition to being a parsonage, the building once housed 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.