PHOTOS: Historic Maplewood House Going, Going...Gone

An 1800s house is torn down by new owner.


The Hezekiah Dare house, a historic house on Valley Street in Maplewood, was demolished Tuesday by its new owner.

According to Zillow, the house was originally listed for $374,569; it sold in October for $285,000.

Township historian Susan Newberry noted the house's historic significance. "An old newspaper article said that Hezekiah Dare, an English immigrant who was a carpenter, purchased the house from the Crowell family around 1860," said Newberry. "The Crowells had run the Cider Mill that stood near the Shell Station by the high school and had orchards in the area. They also owned the general store which stood near Town Hall."  

"The house was listed in the partial inventory of historic buildings (limited to those built before 1860) in Maplewood, in the Master Plan," said Virginia Kurshan, chair of the Maplewood Historic Preservation Commission. "However, it was not a locally designated landmark and therefore there were no restrictions on its demolition."

Private February 21, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Thank G*d the Mill was saved.
unleb February 21, 2013 at 03:07 PM
So I guess this is OK in Maplewood now, tear down historic houses to make a buck? I thought we were better thank that, a little more conscious, a little more aware of taste and style... I guess not. Does anyone know who bought this and tore it down? I hope the neighbors and Township stick to their guns when it comes to what they allow to be built on this property. Total shame when a town forgets it's roots.
CJV February 21, 2013 at 04:43 PM
I would never do as this seller did and list my home with a broker who also flips houses. I'd be worried his motives might be compromised. I'd want the highest price possible for my house. The broker might instead realize he could make even more money by buying my house from me then flipping it, especially since he still gets a commission, rather than advising me to hold out for a better price. I'd even be worried his zeal promoting my house to others would be impaired by his greed.
Stuart Lutz February 21, 2013 at 05:04 PM
People, there is a difference between OLD and HISTORIC. There was nothing historically significant or important about the house (it wasn't George Washington's boyhood home, nor was it designed by Henry Hobson Richardson, for example). Therefore, it is just old, not historic.
CJV February 21, 2013 at 07:42 PM
Unleb- Yes, we know. The listing price on the house suddenly collapsed and the listing broker sold it to himself and his brother at that low price.
Sasquatch February 21, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Theres a tough balance between wanting to keep the historic character of our town and not being the person who has to pay to restore or upkeep it. When the mc mansion pops up there with plastic siding (pleas god prove me wrong!) we all loose a little bit tho. Is there any kind of historic house fund that would help those living in historic housing to upkeep them, then we can complain when our communities interests are not served... I will miss that old house!
Jeffrey Kawalek February 21, 2013 at 11:11 PM
Stuart, I find it interesting that you would make that distinction. You say that there is "nothing historically significant or important about the house", yet it was one of the oldest standing houses in our town, and a very beautiful one at that. It was in the partial "historic" inventory of the town records, and had historic significance in that it contributed to the feel of Maplewood. Would you rather replace all these magnificent "old" homes with MacMansions and turn our beautiful historic town into a 21st century Levittown?
Lindsay February 22, 2013 at 02:07 PM
maybe the new owner will build something pleasing.
unleb February 22, 2013 at 03:04 PM
Wow, Stuart, did you read the article? The Town Historian specifically noted it's "historic significance", perhaps you know something she doesn't? The only reason it wasn't protected was that it hadn't yet received "official" protection yet. Further, I looked at the house, and the owner specifically said "I hope whoever buys this house will treasure it like I have, and not change it too much"... so much for the realtor looking out for the interests of the seller...
Wendy February 22, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Wendy February 22, 2013 at 09:47 PM
"I thought we were better than that." So did I. I guess we were both wrong.
Stuart Lutz February 23, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Yes, I did read the article, and yes, I make my living as an historian. People often incorrectly use the words 'old' and 'historic', and falsely think they mean the same thing. They do not. I remember driving around upstate New York on a state highway and seeing a sign for the upcoming "historic district". It was a collection of moldy, decrepit houses. Nothing historic had occurred there, there was no architectural significance to the houses, etc. The houses were old, not historic. Same thing with this Maplewood one, old and decrepit. Now the local Durand house is different, since a significant American painter grew up there. That is an historic home and I am glad it is still standing.
unleb February 23, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Stuart, very cool that you make your living as an historian. Just to be clear then, you are disagreeing with the Township Historian's designation of the house as "historic", and having "historic significance"? If so, May I ask on what basis (specific to this house)? This may sound more like a personal challenge than it is meant. Not being an historian by trade, I really am curious to see where two professionals would differ on something like this.
emy February 23, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Asher Durand did not grow up at the Durand-Hedden house. The house he was born in burned down around 1843. More history is here: http://www.durandhedden.org/archives/articles/a_brief_history_of_the_durand-hedden_house_ It was Asher's brother, Henry Durand, who bought the Durand-Hedden house from the Hedden family in 1812. Thank goodness, that although Henry was not famous or significant, the the house in question was deemed historic and saved from demolition.
Stuart Lutz February 24, 2013 at 09:04 PM
This is going to be lengthy. First, you have to understand there is a difference between OLD and HISTORIC (and by that, I mean having a historical significance to the nation at large). A 200 year old deed that I sell on Ebay for $50 is less historic than Bush's handwritten draft of comments he read to the nation on the night of 9/11, even though that is only a dozen years old (the deed is just old). Not everything old is historic, and not everything historic is old. Now, I don't know the town's historian, but if a historian thinks that every home or building build before "X" date, irrelevant of the condition, must be saved, then he or she is not doing their job of sorting out what should be saved from what should not. We get rid of old and useless things all the time. It may be a dirty little secret, but librarians thrown out and deaccession old materials all the time (and the Maplewood Libraries got rid of their histori, er, old card catalogs years ago). All those Boston skyscrapers? Surely built on ground where Sam Adams met with his Tea Party brethren, but we didn't save that land. Now, I strongly believe in HISTORIC preservation - keep open the land where historically significant evens occurred. I donate money to some Civil War Trusts so that battlefields can be bought and kept intact - I remember going to one CW site where there was a Pizza Hut right in the middle of where an important charge occurred. To me, that is wrong.
Stuart Lutz February 24, 2013 at 09:11 PM
To continue...in the end, the home on Valley was old and decrepit, and has no historically significant value in terms of historical events occurring there or having a famous architect design it (and don't get me started on all the Frank Lloyd Wright houses that have been wrongly demolished over the years). It would have been a fortune to preserve that house, and that obviously didn't make economic sense. To conclude, I can cite a local structure that had immense historical value that was torn down a few years ago. Hint, the greatest baseball player ever roamed the outfield, and it was the workplace of the finest first baseman and greatest relief pitcher ever. And the last time I went to the old Yankee Stadium about 8 or 9 years ago, I could not believe what crappy condition it was in, especially after going to the new SF and Baltimore parks. It was old and in bad shape, and despite all the great history that occurred there, it was time for it to go. And I don't remember hearing a word from the historic preservationist that we had to save that great piece of American history. Sincerely, Stuart
Meghan February 25, 2013 at 01:07 PM
This is really sad, a beautiful house torn down. I appreciate Stuarts info and the truth is they couldn't block the tear down. I think many of you feel as I do that we expect others to get "the right thing to do" and preserve a beautiful old house with tons of charm. I feel bad for the previous owner if they really didn't know the plan of the buyer...can you imagine their shock?
Meghan February 25, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Also, not everyone likes old homes but they should respect their history and choose to not buy them then.
unleb February 25, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Stuart, we will agree to disagree. I will have to tend towards the side of the Town Historian, given that she most likely has greater insight into what would make a house historic in a local context. In addition, I really have to disagree with your assessment of Yankee Stadium. While it was certainly old and poorly maintained in many areas, it was clearly historic, and deserved to stay (and of course this is still a raging debate among Yankee fans, as well as baseball fans in general, and there were howls of protest when it was taken down). Condition does not define significance, nor does a comparison to "modern" convenience. Fenway is a tiny, cramped Ballpark that by all modern measure is a "terrible" sports venue. I'll take it over most of the newer parks out there for it's atmosphere and the feeling of proximity to the game. I have enjoyed your posts, and the obvious depth of expertise that informs them!
Stuart Lutz February 25, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Should we have left the old police station up? I'm sure there was some "historic" significance to it - there were probably a lot of first-time bookings there. No, it had outlived its usefulness and it was right to tear it down and put up something more useful. No different with the house on Valley.
Stuart Lutz February 25, 2013 at 02:31 PM
The house sale was a business transaction - once you sell something and get money for it, you can no longer control it. I remember someone who wanted me to broker a huge archive of General George Meade materials for top dollar (the price he wanted was ridiculous) and then he put all these covenants on the collection, such as nothing could ever be sold from it. My client walked away from the deal.
unleb February 25, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Well, I'm not sure the Town Historian considered it "historic" (nor did I or anyone I know who grew up around here), so I'm not sure that is a good example. The town apparently lost a lot of money on that deal. Also, I sure hope "useful" does not become the primary test for our decisions on things aesthetic. Or Historic.
Pat Tine February 27, 2013 at 03:34 AM
Stuart, You are confusing "historic value" with "architectural historic value", the latter having to do with the quality of the architecture itself, which the Dare house clearly had. As such, it added value to the town's character and by extension, to the value of all our properties. For that reason, it would have been much better if it has been preserved.
Stuart Lutz February 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM
I'm not confusing anything - I know what I am talking about. Who is going to pay for the preservation of a house that was falling down, and clearly required six figures worth of work? It's very easy to spend other people's money...
emy February 27, 2013 at 04:22 PM
No one is advocating spending of other people's money, and that is not how preservation works. Anyone who buys a house needing significant updating -- historic or not -- can spend (multiple) six figures easily. Certainly people exist who might have been willing to do so. To those who shrug at the teardown, please let those of us who are saddened lament the fact that a developer got to it first. A more productive follow up to this story, a message for the town Historic Preservation Commission -- http://maplewood.patch.com/articles/historic-preservation-comm-saddened-by-dare-house-demo
Alicia Vance March 05, 2013 at 05:45 PM
a new house will probably be lots more energy efficient, i.e., smaller carbon footprint. new is not always bad.
unleb March 05, 2013 at 06:38 PM
The Town Historian found this house to be of historic significance to this town. We are not talking about a 50s tract home that has no value, we are talking about a house that is (was) more than a century and a half old, and had connections back to the early days of the town. In this particular case, new is bad.
Stuart Lutz March 05, 2013 at 08:00 PM
If the Town Historian believes that every Maplewood house built before "x" date MUST be saved ("think of the houses!"), irrelevant of condition or importance, than that is not an opinion - it is being doctrinaire (and I would suspect that is the case here). The job of an historian or archivist is not just to preserve, but also to understand when it is time to get rid of things that have outlived their usefulness, such as Maplewood Library's card catalog. I'd be curious to know if the historian was ever inside to see the poor condition? In this case, old was bad. If the historian feels so strongly, he or she can pay to put up an historical marker outside of the property.
unleb March 05, 2013 at 09:01 PM
*sigh*. Stuart, sad that you seek to discredit the Town Historian because she may disagree with you about this property. It certainly doesn't seem fair for you to judge her abilities as an historian or archivist. I am happy to disagree with you and call it a day. You seem unsatisfied with the idea that one could disagree with you... You seem to find it important to exclaim "I know what I'm talking about", perhaps we can give the Town Historian that same benefit of the doubt?
emy March 06, 2013 at 02:00 PM
Mr. Lutz, you don't have to be suspicious or curious. Just ask her! I suggest you get to know the town historian and learn more about the service she provides this community. She could answer any and all of your questions, and I'm sure she'd appreciate your expertise. You have your own opinions and experience working with historical materials, but that is not justification for disparaging someone who provides a valuable service to town.


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