Yet another demolition permit request has been filed for a downtown project. But unlike the recent demolitions of two well-known downtown buildings - the former Andover Bookstore and Learning Express buildings - this latest request has a unique twist.
It involves a historic house that the new homeowner wants to move, not demolish, but a demolition permit is necessary to get the process going.
Developer Douglas Ahern of Andover wants to move the historic house at 1 Judson Road, which is off Bartlet Street, to an undetermined location nearby. Ahern, who lives on Argilla Road, wants to build a house for himself at 1 Judson Road as he likes the location and wants to be closer to downtown.
"I want to be able to walk downtown and go to the restaurants. We can have friends over and walk to a restaurant. That's why I am doing this," he said.
Ahern has bought the house at 1 Judson Road for $850,000 from the Trustees of Phillips Academy, he said. He hasn't had the closing yet as a title problem is delaying the closing, he said. But, the SOLD real estate sign is planted in the front yard.
Town preservation records show the house's history dates back to the 1800's. This home carries the name Leonard Woods House after the Rev. Leonard A. Woods who was "inaugurated as Abbot Professor of Christian Theology at Andover in 1808," according to town preservation records. Woods and his wife, Abigail, had 10 children.
Ahern needs a demolition permit to begin the process of moving the house. He filed an application for his project with the town's building inspector on April 23. His application will be discussed at the upcoming Preservation Commission meeting on Tuesday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m.
Commission Chairwoman Karen Herman could not comment on Ahern's application.
"It’s not appropriate for me to comment at this stage of the process. We have a public hearing scheduled for June 11, after which time I can speak with you," Herman wrote in an email to the Townsman.
Ahern, a longtime builder, said he has moved houses in the past and is well aware of the costs and possible problems. Two years ago, a historic 1915 bungalow-style house was moved from 33 Porter Road to 273 South Main St. by a crane and flatbed truck. The porch of the house fell off in the move. One week later, the entire building collapsed. The move had been planned and permitted during a two-year process between the town and a local realtor.
"I don't know where I would move this house to...somewhere in town, close by. I will talk about this at the meeting and, hopefully, work something out," Ahern said.