A dilapidated stable atop Savin Hill was torn down on Monday morning after city officials and the property owners reached an agreement in court last week to allow the demolition to proceed. A second structure at 24 Grampian Way— a three-story home that was once a stately mansion owned by 19th century sporting goods magnate George Wright— remains intact and will not be demolished “at this point”, according to a city spokesman.
A huge Caterpillar material handler made short work of the old barn structure, which is partially obscured from view by a number of large trees on the property. Workers also bulldozed several trees alongside the barn to get a clear shot at the structure’s northern-facing walls— which were the first to come down. One workers sprayed water from a nearby fire hydrant to douse the dust that rose from the debris pile.
Several neighbors stopped to watch the event and took photos. Most moved along after a few minutes.
At least one member of the Tomasini family— which owns the site— was on the premises before the wrecking crew began its work. However, he declined a request for an interview. A call to Tomasini’s attorney seeking comment about the family’s plan for the remaining structure was not returned.
John Guilfoil, a spokesman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino, confirmed this afternoon that the city’s Inspectional Services Department and Landmarks Commission had reached an agreement with the Tomasini family to allow the barn’s demolition to commence. The agreement does not allow for the main building to be razed, Guilfoil said.
The property — including both the barn and the main house— have been under review by the city Landmarks Commission, which has been weighing whether to declare the site a historic landmark. In the interim, the Tomasini family sought a demolition permit. A public meeting was held on the subject earlier this month.
Earl Taylor, president of the Dorchester Historical Society and an advocate for preserving the Savin Hill property, said the demolition raised serious questions about the city’s commitment to its Landmarks process.
“The loss of another piece of Dorchester’s architectural history – a building with historic associations making it eligible for recommendation as a Boston Landmark— forces us to ask how serious the City of Boston is in regard to historic preservation,” Taylor said in a statement to the Reporter.
Taylor noted that a petition requesting Landmark designation for both buildings at 24 Grampian Way received the support of more than 80 people, most of them neighbors from Savin Hill.
“For the owners of a property to be able to take down a building while it is still under review thwarts the landmark designation process,” Taylor said. “It is time for a re-examination of our commitment to saving our heritage.”
At a Landmarks Commission hearing held in August, several city council members— including Savin Hill resident Frank Baker— spoke in opposition to making the Wright-Tomasini property a landmark. Baker later recused himself from the debate— and asked that his testimony before the commission be struck from the record— after proponents noted that Baker is an abutter to the property. They also raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest, since Baker’s brother — a real estate developer — had previously attempted to buy the land.