During my tenure as chairman of the Medford Historical Commission many years ago, I often reflected on a statement made to me: “They just don’t make historic buildings anymore.” Embedded in the irony of that quote are the truths that once historic buildings and landscapes are gone, so too are the lessons from the past and the symbols that make Andover unique from so many other suburban towns.
The recent fire at the 200-year-old mill barn on Red Spring Road was a close call because there was only minimal damage. Currently protected by a demolition delay ordinance, the barn’s future is at significant risk because the delay merely gets the timer going on its destruction. It’s up to those with an interest in preserving the historical and differentiated character of Andover to help beat the demolition delay clock expiration. Remember that some of the most successful historic rehabilitation projects in the U.S., including Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Seattle’s Pike Place, were once at similar risk and saved by visionary people and forward-looking government leaders.
Our challenges in Andover don’t stop with the mill barn on Red Spring Road; the Osgood, Stephen House and Farm on Osgood Street, dating to 1699, has been turned into a deteriorating dump while the town works with the attorney general’s office on a resolution with the property’s owner. When I first moved to Andover in 1993 and saw the Osgood, Stephen House, I thought, “What an impressive building.” When I moved back to Andover in 2007, my thoughts shifted to, “What a tragedy.” The real tragedy will be not saving it. We live in a historic New England town, so let’s work together to keep that heritage alive because it will define our future.
53 Pine St.