UPDATED: At 12:30 p.m. with comments from Marc Ginsburg.
Efforts to preserve Ames Castle officially came to an end Monday, as the historic Catamount Road home was demolished to make room for a small subdivision.
The actual demolition was really just a formality. The home's fate was sealed last month when the property, which included the main house and a servant's quarters on 2.76 acres, were sold by John Sullivan to local developer Marc Ginsburg and Sons, Inc. for $360,000.
The town had most recently assessed the value of the property at $762,400.
Ginsburg, who said the parcel of land is actually between 3.5 and 4 acres, confirmed his plans to build three single-family homes on the property.
The 17-room, 12,781-square foot mansion was built around 1900 by Gen. Adelbert Ames, a hero of the Civil War and former governor of Mississippi.
Sullivan, who had purchased the property in 1986 for $400,000, had been embroiled in a dispute with town officials over his use of the property for apartments for the past two decades. The court case was settled last year in favor of the town.
Last winter, Sullivan filed an application for demolition, stating that maintaining the home was not financially feasible. He had proposed a "friendly" 40B project, which would have allowed him to keep the property as an affordable housing multi-unit dwelling. The other option, according to his attorney, was to demolish the building and develop the property as a subdivision.
In March, the Historical Commission voted to declare the property "preferably preserved," putting into effect a nine-month moratorium on any demolition. The hope was buy enough time for a deal to be worked out to preserve the home.
According to Steve Sadwick, Tewksbury's director of Community Development, town officials met with Sullivan several times over the next several months but were unable to reach a mutually acceptable deal.
On Nov. 2, Sullivan finalized the deal with Ginsburg, who met with town officials later in the month and shared his plans to demolish Ames Castle. On Nov. 19, the Historic Commission removed the last obstacle by lifting its "preferably preserved" demolition moratorium.
"It wasn’t easy for anyone I think, Marc (Ginsburg) included," said Sadwick. "But in the end it just wasn't financially (practical) to keep it as a single family home."
Ginsburg said all possible options for preserving the building were explored before the decision was made to demiolish the building. He also said efforts were made to remove as much of the historical elements of the building as possible before the demolition.
"It was heartbreaking for me," he said. "But tt just wasn't financially feasible to maintain it as a single-family home. We met with residents of the neighborhood and most of them just wanted it torn down."
Sullivan did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment for this story.