Developers Win Vote to Demolish 37 Hillside and Construct Reproduction

The house at 37 Hillside Avenue as it was built in 1914 (l), and as it could be rebuilt now that the developers are allowed to demolish the structure

Following a protracted discussion, members of the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) voted 4:2 on Tuesday night in favor of allowing demolition of the 1911-era home at 37 Hillside Ave. to proceed. This was the third public hearing on the case. At the first hearing, the HPC deemed the meeting “historically significant”; at the second public hearing, the Commission did not come to a decision but requested a walk-through of the property, which took place on May 15.

With Tuesday night’s decision, the development team of Suzanne and Ryan Koller and Nicholas and Nikki Vercollone (Highline Construction) can now go forward with their plan to demolish the existing structure along with a pool, garage, and deck and to build what they call a “reproduction” of the home. The distinctive roofline will be maintained. As noted in Historic Properties and Neighborhoods of Bedford, Massachusetts by Kathleen Kelly-Broomer, the home was listed in the National Register historic district in 1977. It is described as “uncommon among early 20th-century residential buildings in Bedford and retains many character-defining features of the Craftsman style.”

The listing in the National Register was one of the reasons cited by HPC member Don Corey for his negative vote. Corey said he could not in good conscience support demolition which he felt would set a precedent. Member Richard LeShack also voted no. Other members, including Chair John Lenz,  although voting in the affirmative, acknowledged that this was an extremely difficult decision. Member David Goldbaum, in a strong affirmative vote,  felt that structural conditions and economic challenges posed by this dwelling ruled out the possibility of renovating the existing structure.

At their May 13 meeting, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to grant 37 Hillside LLC a special permit for the demolition of a house and construction of a larger house on a non-conforming lot, with the following conditions: that the above ground pool, the garage, the deck, and the driveway be demolished. This vote was contingent on the decision which was expected from the HPC on May 25.

Here is the link to an earlier discussion by both the HPC and the ZBA:

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Debra Parkhurst
Debra Parkhurst
1 year ago

Too late now!… but perhaps the exterior design can be brought before the HPC before this ugly fake facade craft- cottage, or whatever that design pretends to be, is finally approved. It is not more difficult to take down a house and replace it with a charming home that reminds us of its origins. While there may good reason to replace a house due to codes and standards, there is no reason it has to be ugly. So the ZBA can allow demolition and construction, but perhaps the developer can create a home that better reminds and informs the neighborhood and the town of what stood there before. The new house pictured above does not. Let’s hope the rendering shown is a beginning and not an end.

Luisa Granitto
Luisa Granitto
1 year ago

I am surprised and saddened by the outcome of this vote. This English cottage/arts&crafts style house from 1911 is rare in Bedford. There is a reason it was deemed a historic property in 1977. The new house, even with the same roof line, will be nothing like it. The early 19th c. arts & crafts features and charm are lost in the new larger-scale design.
I realize that most people aren’t interested in renovating an old house, but believe that there are indeed some out there who would have been willing to put in the required energy and finances to preserve this special house.

karl Winkler
karl Winkler
1 year ago

Karl Winkler
Wake up Bedford! The excuse of a house not being up to code is being used again and again… Move over Lexington, Bedford McMansions are here and they are extinguishing the character of the town. I love the attempt of simply changing the roof line to a standard center entrance Lexington Urbanization Colonial they think they can pass it off as paying homage to the original building?!?! Sad really that they are getting away with this.

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