To preserve and protect
The proposal by Blake Development Corporation to demolish 415 West Moreland Ave is a serious breach of the implicit, unwritten agreement we all live by in this National Historic District: that is, we will preserve the fine historic properties we’ve inherited if at all possible, rather than break up large parcels of land into sub-divisions with new construction. Yes, it costs more to preserve an older building. Yes, owners and developers forego a lot of money when they chose not to build out their lots to the maximum extent allowed by zoning laws. But we choose to live in Chestnut Hill anyway because it’s an unusually beautiful place, and this is what we have to do to keep it so.
When my wife and I bought our 1890 Houston/Hewitt twin several years ago, as the former owner turned over the key he commented “You know, we don’t really own these properties – we just hold them in trust for the next generation.” He was absolutely correct.
Many people in the St. Martins neighborhood would simply like to clean up this distressed and neglected property as soon as possible. I’m sympathetic, but I cannot countenance the demolition of a fine Colonial Revival house (and a separate carriage house) by a highly-regarded American architect when it is not necessary, particularly when the developer plans to further damage the fine Moreland neighborhood by sub-dividing the 1-acre lot. This sets an ominous precedent which jeopardizes numerous iconic properties in Chestnut Hill!
Sam Blake is a well-regarded local developer who has made a success of upgrading and re-purposing Chestnut Hill buildings while respecting their historic features and design. I have urged him to re-consider his initial plan. In the long run, preservation builds higher real estate values for all of us.
Tired of looking for parking
Just wanted to say that about half the time I want to shop in Chestnut Hill, I end up driving on to my home in Roxborough as I cannot find any place to park between Gravers and Evergreen. I would like to use Kilians, Weavers Way, and other places, too, but am not willing to keep driving around the block, and through parking lots.
Susan R. MacBride
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