Main Section Of Iconic Shore Rd. House Won't Be Demolished

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Local History , Historic preservation

The central portion of the house at the corner of Seaview Street and Shore Road will not be demolished, according to a representative of the owners. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM – The central portion of the iconic house at the corner of Shore Road and Seaview Street will be saved from the wrecking ball.

Peter Polhemus of Polhemus Savery DaSilva Builders Architects told the historical commission last week that the firm has been working “quite intensely” with owners Ronald and Ann Cami on a design that will incorporate the original 1927-section of the building at 233 Seaview St.

“They've always expressed a desire to maintain the character of the building and the main iconic section of the building, and that's where we are at this point,” he said.

In May the historical commission imposed an 18-month demolition delay on the structure after finding that it was historically significant. At the time Polhemus said it was unlikely a full demolition would occur, but with an application requesting razing of the house before them, commission members voted unanimously to invoke the delay.

Last Tuesday commission members thanked Polhemus for the update and said the sooner he can complete the plans the sooner the commission can lift the delay, with the caveat that the central section of the structure be retained.

“I think a lot of people are breathing a sign of relief,” said Chairman Frank Messina, “and it will be nice to save as much of it as we can.”

Located across Seaview Street from Chatham Bars Inn, the house sits on a slight rise looking out over Shore Road to Chatham Harbor. The Colonial Revival summer cottage was built in 1927 or 1928 by S. Herbert Jenks, who purchased the 1.5-acre parcel from Chatham Bars Inn. The seven-bedroom, 3,662-square-foot house is considered an excellent example of its style, according to the Massachusetts Historical Commission's historical inventory form.

Between 1994 and 2012, the house was owned by noted geographer and author Harm de Blij.

The original section of the house has two large, wide Palladian windows flanking a central doorway. A sweeping lawn runs down to the roadway.

Once the owner files plans and requests to lift or amend the demolition delay, a new hearing will be advertised, Messina said.

The commission also discussed concerns over work being done on an 1860 Greek Revival home at 280 Stage Harbor Rd. A project to restore the structure previously came before the commission but because the work did not appear to impact the historical integrity of the building, a demolition delay was not imposed. However, commission members said they believed the builder had gone too far, and instead of just removing shingles and replacing windows had taken down the original sheathing of the walls and the original door.

“This is more of a remodel than a restoration,” said member Tim Smith.

Messina said later that Building Commissioner Jay Briggs could not put a stop work order on the project because the commission's original decision was not detailed enough. At the commission's next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 4, Briggs is expected to attend to discuss the situation and to help the group develop a more specific checklist of conditions for similar projects.