Ames Castle will not be demolished to make room for a small subdivision ... at least not for now.
At it's meeting Monday night, the Historical Commission voted unanimously to declare the property "preferably preserved," according to an article in the Lowell Sun. This allowed the commission to impose a nine-month delay on any demolition, while other options are explored.
John Sullivan, who owns the property at 108 Catamount Road, has been embroiled in a dispute with town officials over his use of the property for apartments for the past two decades.
Sullivan recently settled a longstanding court case with the town and has since submitted an application for demolition. According to Atty. Gary Brackett, Sullivan's lawyer, turning the property back into a single-family home is not a financially viable option.
Instead, Sullivan has proposed either a multi-unit "friendly" 40B project or razing the 19th century home and creating three single-family lots.
A group of Catamount Road residents attended the commission meeting on Monday and expressed frustration that it has taken the town two decades to enforce a court ruling that had found Sullivan in violation of zoning ordinances by having multiple apartments on the property, according to the Sun. Some questioned the historic value of the property.
In a letter to the Board of Selectmen, Commission Chairman Jay Gaffney had touted the historic nature of the building.
"Ames Castle contains features which make it a unique and invaluable part of Tewksbury’s heritage and historic inventory," Gaffney wrote. "These features include, but are not limited to:
- Its unique architecture;
- The excellent state of preservation of its exterior and interior features;
- Its association with Civil War General and hero, Governor, and Senator Adelbert Ames."
For the moment, the next step in the process is up to Sullivan. He could pursue the 40B application, which he first submitted to the town in 2010 or he could allow the nine-month period to expire and continue with plans to raze the building and build a three-unit subdivision.