Free: One House, Circa 1953, You Take It Away

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Historic preservation

This 1953 Cape is available free to anyone with land to house it. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – Looking for a house in Chatham? There's a nice three-bedroom, post-and-beam Cape available, and the price is pretty reasonable.

In fact, you can have the house for nothing; you just have to have someplace to put it.

At a time when historic homes are disappearing as new owners clear lots for new, more modern structures, it's unusual for an owner of a more contemporary home to offer it up for free, and even be willing to help finance the moving costs.

But that's what Frank Pinto is doing. The venture capital/private equity professional, who is just finishing up a term as chairman of the advisory committee (similar to the finance committee here) in his year-round community of Wellesley, is planning a new home on his Queen Anne Road property that overlooks – in the distance – Oyster Pond. But he loves the charm of the house he bought from Bob Cooling in 2009, and would like to see it preserved.

Assessors records indicate the house was built in 1953. The bones may have been an older barn, Pinto said, but there's no historical record prior to that date. Since that makes it less than 75 years old, it doesn't fall under the scrutiny of the town's historical commission and is therefore not subject to the town's demolition delay bylaw.

He said he's willing to help with the cost of relocating the structure if someone has the land to host it. He's talked with a building mover who said the house isn't that heavy and can be moved, but the cost, with a new foundation, is likely to be hefty, as much as $200,000. If someone has a lot that can be subdivided, or can accommodate an additional building as a guest house, it might “possibly make sense,” he said.

Pinto and his wife Susan spend most of their summers here – they rented in Chatham for 22 years before buying this house – and their two daughters are frequent visitors. But with an eye toward retirement, a newer, more modern home makes sense; plans designed by Steve Hart show a gambrel house with a bit more square footage – the existing house has about 1,600 square feet of space – and a bit more elevation to take advantage of the view. Right now, the best view in the house is through a small window under the west side gable, and you have to hunch down to get the full impact.

He's going before the zoning board of appeals Sept. 28 for approval, and assuming that happens, would like to start construction by mid November. While the historical commission hasn't had much luck in finding new homes for historical structures they've put under demolition delay – one 250-year-old home recently moved on Stage Neck is an exception – Pinto is hopeful that he can connect with someone to save the building. He urged anyone interested to get in touch with him.

“We'll work something out,” he said.

Pinto can be contacted at frank@EGCapitallp.com or 781-704-1979.