Seller of Historic House Defends Realtor
Woman who lived in historic Valley Street home for more than 40 years "thrilled" by work done by Robert Northfield.
The seller of the historic Dare House on Valley Street defended the developer who tore it down last week, saying the 1800s home was not salvageable.
"There are times when things have to go," said Blossom "Bobbie" Cushing, who had lived in the house since 1969, first with her husband and then alone after he died. "Realistically, I couldn't live there and no one else wanted to."
Cushing's house was listed by real estate agent Robert Northfield, who faced a storm of criticism after he sold the house to his brother, who knocked down the historic home. Some residents argued it could have been saved.
Cushing said that the house, which was in need of major reconstruction, was no longer suitable because of her advanced age and health issues, and that she couldn't afford the renovations it required.
In a phone interview with Patch, Cushing said she was "thrilled" with the job Northfield had done in marketing and selling the house.
"Robert had everybody on earth looking at that house, and it was just not salvageable," said Cushing, a former fashion illustrator and an active part of the community for many years.
"Unfortunately, no one wanted it the way it was," said Cushing, adding that the house hadn't been renovated in many years and parts of it were likely not up to code.
Cushing said Northfield advised her to list the house for a low price, given the work it required, but she disagreed.
"The original listing price (of $425,000) was my idea," she said. "Robert said that was too high. He was more realistic and pragmatic."
Cushing said Northfield did everything he could to try to get her as much money for the house as possible.
After months on the market and several price drops -- and no serious offers --Cushing asked Northfield to stop showing the house and find someone who would purchase it for the value of the property. At her request he brought in several developers to see the house, but "they were too busy and I couldn't wait," said Cushing.
At that point, Northfield showed the house to his brother, developer and contractor Mike Abdalla.
"I thought that was fine, I knew he was going to improve the property," said Cushing. She said after learning about Abdalla's construction company, XCEL Renovation, and hearing conversations between Abdalla and an architect he brought to tour the house, she was convinced Abdalla would build something to benefit the town. "I could tell Maplewood's interests would be prime," said Cushing.
"Maplewood is a very special place," said Cushing, who was once named Woman of the Year by the Maplewood Civic Association and was chair of the July 4th Committee for ten years (she was responsible for originally bringing the circus to the town's Independence Day festivities).
She continued, "That property deserves a special home, one that is comfortable and safe and beautiful. I think everyone should be very happy" with the outcome of the sale.
Cushing, who has since moved to a continuing care community in the area, said Northfield was conscientious, hardworking and professional. "Exactly what I wanted, he did for me. It took a while (to sell) but I was happy...he helped me through a very difficult period," she said, calling him a "godsend."
"Maplewood is lucky to have him," she said, "because he has a wonderful sense of community. He wanted the best for the town and for me."
In a separate interview, Northfield said, "At the end of the day, I am there to protect my clients."