UPDATED: Ames Castle Demolished To Make Room For Development

Efforts to preserve historic Catamount Road home are unsuccessful.

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 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 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.

Michael Adams December 12, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Kudos to Mr Ginsburg, it was his to do what he wishes. Business is business and his is making money. Now, as for Tewksbury, we are slowly, but steadily turning this Town into a City. Soon there will be no more open space, no more acre lots. There are developments going up all over town. The streets are all torn up again, talk of building new schools, still paying off big debts. Lots and lots of 'for sale' signs all over. I dont like what is happening, but its my own fault for not paying attention and doing my research before signing on the line......I'll bet this was a nice little town not long ago. Soon though, it will be tough to afford to stay.
Joe Bill December 12, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Are people serious when they talk about missing the airport? The airport was an eyesore, now we have a beautiful Country Club. I enjoy history but I also know we cannot let it stand in the way of progress. I'm sure those who lived close to the castle will be glad when the development goes, which in all liklihood will raise their property values. I think the Ginsberg's have done a great deal for this town and although I'm not a fan of the East St./Dascomb Rd. development, it's hard to argue they have not made this town a better place. Janellen, you must be one bitter and miserable human. Virtually everything you write on this page is a complaint of some sort. Go get on meds or something and stop polluting the website with your negativity.
Melissa Gleaton December 12, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Blame game - I couldn't agree with you more (even though you have a fake name.). ;-)
Regina Sargent December 12, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Why is it a fake name?
Regina Sargent December 12, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I grew up in Tewksbury, but have moved to ME, however, I like to be up on happenings in town.
Jenni Hupper December 12, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Wow Joe Bill.....you seem to be a very sad individual. The airport an eyesore. That airport was around probably well before you......Yes I agree Mark has done a great job w/ the country club but really...Sorry but this was my families business....what have you contributed to the community...did you grow up in Tewksbury if you did you would remember sitting and having an ice cream watching the planes come and go.....remember the good ole days......people like you are what is destroying Tewksbury........I have since moved out of that town because of all the "building up" and the loss of the small town homey feel......Saddens me everytime I drive thru.....
SD From T-Bury December 12, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Janellen, please do not post my name to such a comment. As I said, I'm disappointed and upset that yet another piece of town history is gone, but I have nothing in particular against Mr. Ginsburg. Building and development are his business. It was available. Efforts to save it hadn't worked, and he did what his business sense told him to do. He has GREATLY improved the layout of our Main St. and other areas with his projects, whether they worked (the TCC) or didn't (the bookstore). At least he's trying and now others are joining in (the owner who bought the vacant Grand Prix building and is now revitalizing it). Look at the aesthetic of this town. Look at the improvements his development have made. From another story and another thread, I know you don't like him, but don't come on here and bash him like that when the majority of this town see the good he's done. Thank you.
SD From T-Bury December 12, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Ozzie, can you qualify that comment? I would like to see where he has not been charitable and what makes him "greedy?" Bill, well said. He's what Tewksbury has LONG needed and has done a LOT for this town. He has the resources to do these things, and I think some folks are a little green about it.
Shaun December 12, 2012 at 05:53 PM
It's happening faster and faster lately. At least the state will most likely hold onto their land along Livingston. If that were available to the town they would turn it over in a heartbeat I'm sure and turn it into 5,000 home developments.
Vinny Fratalia December 12, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Having heard all the talk about the "Castle" being torn down I had to read the posts in the Patch and quite frankly am appalled at the comments about Marc Ginsburg. I have known Marc for almost 25 years and consider him a very good friend and have known him to be an outstanding citizen, father, friend, and very generous and has done more for this town than many others could even think of doing. I can't sit here and read the statements being thrown out about him. I am signing this with my real name not hiding behind a computer with an alias or fake name content on throwing around opinions and not the truth. I was recently inside the Castle prior to demoltion and saw first hand the place was a great building in its day but left in a condition that was not feasible to be restored. A dam shame it came to that but things happen and shame on the town and Mr. Sullivan for letting it happen but its a done deal. In closing all the negativity, vulgar language, business opinions of Mr Ginsburg and everything else should be kept in check. Marc is a business man and has improved this town in so many ways. Lets not forget that he has family and kids that live in this town and I as a friend dont appreciate some of you who are business competitors and jealous of what he has accomplished. Comments that are detrimental and hurtful towards his family is not appropriate and not very tasteful. I hope you can look beyond this one distraction in our lives and have a great holiday season
Deb Seeliger December 12, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I think that the Tewksbury Country Club is a wonderful addition to Tewksbury and the Hardy-Pike House is absolutely beautiful. Take a moment to think about what might be in their place if somebody like Marc Ginsburg hadn't come along and put so much into those projects. I don't know Marc well but I know that I have never heard a bad thing about him and think that he takes a lot of pride in his work and his town and if the "Castle" could have been saved in some way he would have.
Cathy M December 12, 2012 at 10:39 PM
It is an absolute shame that this whole castle business has turned into a personal attack on Mr. Ginsburg. I hope that all of you that feel so strongly about preserving the historical sights around town now have seats on the historical committee and are doing all you can to raise funds to rehab these places so in the future you have less to complain about :)
Janellen27 December 15, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Michael, I believe that is because this town is/was settled by city people and it's in their blood to do what has been done over the last 25 years, or more--no value on historical significance, if there's a space, fill it, no matter what it looks like--whether you have to fit it in sideways, diagonally, or backwards. Cities are not aesthetic works of art, and the value is not on nature's beautiful open fields and trees, etc.. If you can make a buck, go for it, whether it makes sense to the town, or not. If a business wants to rent a space, it's not so important what type of business it is, but that we get the rent, any way we can, etc.. I disagree on one thing, though. . ."Soon though, it will be tough to afford to stay". Soon, who will want to stay! You know, Lawrence was once a beautiful place to live. . . .
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 12:01 AM
a) He doesn't HAVE to look for credit. Look at all he gets from you folks! b) As I said, I hadn't looked into it wrt to the go-kart location, so that doesn't "make me wrong", it just informs me. Thank you. c) Tewksbury approved TWO dollar stores. That says it all! d) The Hardy-Pike House nows looks fabulous dressed up like nothing it ever resembled in its original days. And, especially attractive surrounded by TOYOTA'S! Lovely! e) "Maybe it should have been left to fall apart like all the old houses on the state hospital land." Do you really feel that way? Interesting. Well, see, that's the problem. That's what Tewksbury did; allowed a lovely New England town to go to hell. And, is now rebuilding it into a haphazzard piece of patchwork quilt. . .
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Continued . . . f) A shame that Funland went out of business in the first place. . . and, yup, it's an ugly mess, and yup, wish someone would buy it and create something decent--maybe even a blank space! g) The State Hospital is on top of my favorite ugly rundowns in the town. The Jersey Barriers in that beautiful field? Did noone in the Town government think to negotiate a complimentary old-fashioned post and rail fence, or something in keeping with what that goreous field is? The archway entrance with the bricks falling out deemed unsafe? Did nobody in this town put pressure on the State to FIX it and preserve that archway entrance? It's OK to have Jersey Barriers blocking the main entrance of a piece of property which is on the nation's historical properties registry? Are you really suggesting, "Maybe it should have been left to fall apart like all the old houses on the state hospital land."? Or, are you just trying to imply that I think that way. g) CPA Funds? And, the Town wouldn't use them? See, there's the problem right there. Let's not use CPA Funds to improve things, let open up two dollar stores and two [other kind of] stores to upgrade this town! h) Donating your Club for fundraisers--for example--gets one a lot of support, publicity, and future involvements, nevermind sales and investments. As I said, the man may have a good heart, but he's a smart businessman first, and the results show that.
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Tell me, Vinny. . . WHAT "BAD THINGS" have been said about Marc G.? Please use direct quotes, and not your personal "interpretations". Thank you.
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 12:15 AM
If that's a real question, I think the answer might be something like I don't think we had "Patch" w/a public format for such discussion back then, "Blame Game,", but I'd bet you there was plenty of discussion about each of those items during each's own time. If you'd like to dredge that all up again, and list all the people "WHO LET IT GET LIKE THAT". . .
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Jack, looks like Mr. Sullivan found an ally and now both win, and the historical aura of the town loses. I think it's time someone talk about who the individuals were all during these times in wich these buildings were allowed to rot and have to be torn down, and just why those people calling themselves the Historical Commission/Committee didn't do more to save history. The answers just might reveal why more interested people backed out and didn't get involved once they took a peek and saw how things were run. . . . just saying. . . oops! That would open a real can o' worms to bitch about, wouldn't it, now!
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Deb, it's probably the lovliest building in the town right now, even if most residents don't play golf. . . Well, it draws a lot of road traffic from the outside. . . a lot of weddings, functions, etc., lot of cars that fill the parking lot. . . a lot of . . . profit.
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Joe Bill . . . Quit complaining about the airport and the East STreet/Dascomb Road development. All you do is whine and complain. You're so negative. . . . You're a real gentleman, I've noticed. You're the second person who spoke of "meds" wrt another individual; all class. I've had enough of your pollution and your negativity!
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Jenni, I'm very sorry for you're feeling as though you had to move away from your hometown due to the changes that you don't feel have been for the better. I would have loved it here as a kid, too, I'm sure. (And I feel the same way about the beautiful little town I grew up in. "Change" is not always a good thing.) And, I sat w/my elderly neighbor and had breakfast or lunch many times and watched the planes come and go, which I think was especially meaningful to her since she lived here since about 1954, and everything and everyone she knew were gone. Now, I'm just happy to run into your mother and chat a few minutes, but I still feel the "good ol' airport feelings" when we chat.
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Mrs. V: What attacks on Mr. Ginsburg? Specifically, I mean. Perhaps you should talk to people who wanted to participate on the Historical Committee and hear why they, sadly, changed their minds, and wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole! And, maybe that would explain, in part, why the historical aspects of the town have not been better preserved. Perhaps . . .
Janellen27 December 16, 2012 at 01:23 AM
SDFromTewksbury: You wrote, "From another story and another thread, I know you don't like him, but don't come on here and bash him like that when the majority of this town see the good he's done." I know from that other story that you have your own filtered way of interpreting things, which may or may not have anything to do w/the person's words which you are attempting to interpret. And, in that case, most of you were wrong about my words, but. . . . I'll try to forget that mess which was not started by me. . .. . Now, my mentioning your name in my post simply meant that I read your post, and everyone else's, and chose to state that I agreed with the words that I read. But, based on your mishandling of, yet, another one of my intentions and another one of my posts, I throw my hands up and leave it to The Good Lord! Amen! I hardly want to be associate with you, either, after all your misjudgments.
John G December 17, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Does Tewksbury Country Club still let the JV Golf Team use the course? Did Marc fly Santa into the Country Club again for the kids? How'd the Town get have the Stanley Cup for the Day? Did TCC employees help build the 9-11 memorial??
Christian Noel April 24, 2013 at 02:55 PM
I love all these people who care soooo much about Ames Castle after the fact. The story isn't "evil developer destroys historic home". The story is incompetent town government interfered in the private matters of a landlord (Sullivan) by telling him he couldn't continue to rent apartments out. This left him with no choice but to either demolish it himself and rebuild or to sell it to someone else who would tear it down. Part of that is that it is too big to be used as a single dwelling (for most people) and the folks who can fill a place like that wouldn't want to live there given the condition it was in. So the town sealed it's fate. If they had left well enough alone it would still be there more than likely. The historic society types, where were they? There were no fundraisers I heard of to get the historic society the money to buy it when Sullivan put it on the market or even to fix up the place and restore it. Sadly, this is so very typical of Tewksbury.
john smith April 25, 2013 at 12:09 AM
Are you kidding me? You obviously don't know Sullivan. He could have put it on the open market but instead he chose to secretly sell the property for a ridiculously low price knowing that Ginsburg would bulldoze it over. He did this out of spite. If he couldn't have his way he made sure the Castle was gone. Christian Noel you are misinformed, it was not put on the market.


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