Can The Hardy-Pike House Be Saved?

The fate of the historic home is in doubt with a sale pending.

Occasionally, we'll hold a business story, if one of the subjects asks us to because things are in flux and a potential transaction is not a "done deal." Such was the case with the to the parent company of Ira Toyota.

In the meantime, the Lowell Sun published an article last week breaking news of the deal, which will not be finalized for another month.

However that article led to three questions from readers, wondering what the fate of the historic Hardy-Pike House would be, not that the property was being purchased by the dealership.

Here is just one of those questions.

Question: I read that the old Novel Cafe property is being sold to a car dealership. Is the building going to be torn down or what?

Answer: Yes. Marc Ginsburg presently owns the building known as the Hardy-Pike House which, most recently, was home to "A Novel Cafe," a coffee house and bookstore run by Leisa Ginsburg.

Ginsburg is close to closing a deal with Group 1, a corporation based in Houston, Texas, which is the parent company of Ira Toyota, located next door to the Hardy-Pike property.

Because the deal won't be finalized until July, no one is talking about the corporation's plans are for the property, but there are three possibilities.

1. Ira Toyota uses the building for company offices -- This is possible. The building is in exceptional condition after Ginsburg put hundreds of thousands of dollars into renovation. Still, Car dealerships tend to like modern and flashy, not rustic. So, while possible, it's unlikely.

2. Group 1 sells the building and it is relocated -- This would be nice. Again, it's a wonderful historic building with a great history. But moving a building is a pricey proposition and it's questionable whether or not the buyer or seller would be willing to make that investment.

3. Group 1 tears down the building Ira Toyota expands into the vacant lot -- Smart money says this is the most likely outcome because it is the most cost effective for Group 1. But don't expect the town, and in particular the Historic Commission, to let the building be razed without a fight. the commission would put a nine-month hold on any demolition proposal with the hopes of working out another solution.

Wildcard -- said something near the end of the last Board of Selectmen's meeting that was almost a throwaway line but should be noted. Montuori floated the idea of using the Hardy Pike House, instead of , as a temporary home to town offices for two years, while the is completed.

"It's a longshot, but we're looking into it," said Montuori.

The building is well suited for town offices. It has plenty of parking and is handicapped accessible. If the town is able to negotiate that deal, it would buy a two-year window to try and figure out another solution for saving the building.

Bill. S June 30, 2012 at 12:39 AM
My thoughts exactly (sorry Janellen27) I think it would be a bit much to ask of Ginsburg to donate the building, I do feel though that as owner, he is somewhat responsible as far as who he sells to and what they will do with it. If what Jimmy says here is true about the p&s then that is good enogh for me
Janellen27 June 30, 2012 at 04:23 AM
MICHAEL: If I had the money, I think I would have bought it after the first renovation as The Pike House Restaurant and saved it then. That was as close to "restored" as it ever got. All the other "renovations" have just taken it further and further away from its original appearance, inside and out. As it stands now, it would be a very big job, with a very big pricetag to strip it back to (probably) white clapboard, and other period features. A shame a such a piece of Tewksbury history sits beside a lot full of Japanese cars. Oh, well . . . .
Christian Noel June 30, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Someone mentioned to me that the current location of the Hardy-Pike House was not the original location. If so, then I would imagine it would be ok to move it again. The comments above are interesting. Some people decrying the "faceless corporation" aspect and wanting the town to support our local business. While others complaining that the town has become the "pizza place" capital of the world. While it is true the town hasn't done a great job preserving historical buildings,it also has a terrible commercial track record. The Hardy-Pike House has proven to be a bad location for commercial interests. I have seen a ton of businesses come and go. The only thing I can see that building be used for would perhaps be office space or town purposes. In the end if it is torn down, it is what it is. I am sure there are plenty of buildings in town that have been torn down over the past 250 years or so which tugged at the heart strings of folks in town in 1734, 1834, 1934 and will again in 2034. The part of town I grew up in used to be an apple orchard, then it was an airstrip. The part of town now occupied by 495 Warehouse used to a popular part of town. My point is this. If there is a commercially viable reason to keep it,it lives. My prediction is IRA doesn't raze it. It wouldn't be in their best interests. If the town is willing to put up the money to buy it then it lives. If no one cares then it gets torn down like all the others, in 50 yrs no one remembers.
Janellen27 June 30, 2012 at 04:44 AM
A-TOWNIE: Please don't tell me you own either/both of those shops. The med. profession and the govt. have known how harmful tobacco smoking is to people for how many decades? Seven, at least! The govt. has outlawed smoking in all publ. bldgs., restaurants, the street, and don't get caught smoking on a public beach. I'm very sorry that is your chosen vice, as I grew up in a smoke-filled house and in later years, watched my father trail around the house tethered to the O2 tank, and for the last two yrs. of his life, on a feeding tube, a Foley, a ventilator, a trache. . . until he finally decided to leave. I sat beside him holding his hand watching every pulse in his neck 'til the last. My eldest sister had a lobe of her cancerous lung removed, another sibling has COPD, and I went through hell trying to quit: 8 hypnotists, Smoke Enders, The Beder Method, One Step At a Time, Nicorette, and finally... Mr. Yefim Schubentsov, "The Russian", in Brookline, May 19, 1987, but who's counting. My lung capacity is probably half what it should be. My father died very sorry that he wasted his health on cigarettes and subjected his wife and four children to lung disease. No, I don't think I would be at all interested in a Dominican or Nicaraguan, to be honest with you, and I think it's shameful that Tewksbury would license not one--but two--shops that are for the sole purpose of selling a known carcinogen and killer. Tsk, tsk. Wishing you a long life.
Janellen27 June 30, 2012 at 04:45 AM
A-TOWNIE: Well, I guess "progress" is a subjective term. . . . I know a couple of pilots who used to fly in and out of the Airport, too, and have very fond memories. It was really a little piece of Americana. The Town had many such pieces: The Drive-In, Funland, The Go-Kart track, what else . . . It is sad to think of the complete turnover of mainly '50's life.
Steve Crane June 30, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Just to be thorough: "misspelling Mr. Ginsburg's name incorrectly." <- double negative
A T-Townie June 30, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Janellen, From reading your reply, I see that you speak of cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking is FAR more detrimental to your health, as the average cigarette contains more that 430 chemicals... Cigars, however, contain NONE. I will not say cigars are good for you, but they certainly do not cause the sickness and disease you wrote of. I'm sorry that you had to see your fathers health fail as it did. However, cigar smoking popularity has grow over the last 8 or so years, while cigarette smoking has declined. Personally, I think cigarette smoking is disgusting, and I grew up with two parents as smokers. Cigars are a hobby, not a habit. I could empty my humidor today, and never smoke another one. I would, however, miss the camaraderie and friends at the local cigar shop.
Who Me? June 30, 2012 at 07:12 PM
How much of the "Pike" house is original? It's had extensive remodeling over the years. What's left? 25%? 10%? If it's mostly all new wood is new wood historic?
Christian Noel June 30, 2012 at 07:22 PM
@Who Me. That is a great point. It has been gutted, refurbished many times. So essentially I am betting the only thing historical could be the frame and the fact people remember what it used to look like. I had rather forgotten about that.
Janellen27 June 30, 2012 at 10:02 PM
A-TOWNIE WROTE: "Janellen, Wow, such a personal attack on Mr. Ginsberg...You seem like the least knowledgeable, but most jealous person I have ever experienced on this forum. You go so far as to attack someones spelling? Are you kidding me? Is this an English class? Is my punctuation correct? I'm sure it is, as I write for a living. Mr. Ginsburg, if you read this, THANK YOU for all you have done for the town of Tewksbury... As Janellen proves, ya just can't please everyone!!" A-TOWNIE: Maybe you should slow down your reading a bit. It was not ME who criticized someone for misspelling anything. It was ANNIE CROSS who lambasted me for misspelling Ginsburg's name. But, watch out, because in the above post, I see you made the mistake of posting it two different ways, too. She should be coming after you any minute! Secondly, where do you get that I'm "the most jealous person you've ever experienced on this forum"? That's a huge leap for someone who has only read a few posts that have nothing to do with jealousy. Well, maybe it's just a good old-fashioned case of "projection" on your part?
Janellen27 June 30, 2012 at 10:04 PM
WHO ME: That was pretty much my point in an earlier post. . . been "renovated" but not "restored".
Janellen27 June 30, 2012 at 10:09 PM
A-TOWNIE WROTE: "Janellen, From reading your reply, I see that you speak of cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking is FAR more detrimental to your health, as the average cigarette contains more that 430 chemicals... Cigars, however, contain NONE. I will not say cigars are good for you, but they certainly do not cause the sickness and disease you wrote of. I'm sorry that you had to see your fathers health fail as it did. However, cigar smoking popularity has grow over the last 8 or so years, while cigarette smoking has declined. Personally, I think cigarette smoking is disgusting, and I grew up with two parents as smokers. Cigars are a hobby, not a habit. I could empty my humidor today, and never smoke another one. I would, however, miss the camaraderie and friends at the local cigar shop." A-TOWNIE: Thanks for your thoughts wrt my Father's death and sisters' lung disease, but honestly, your information about cigar smoking not being harmful is just not accurate. Sort of like people who chew tobacco get cancerof the mouth, the tongue, the throat, etc.. Maybe it is just a "hobby" for you. For many it is a "habit", but nonethless, a very stinky one and one that the majority of the population are very offended by. Good luck w/your health.
Janellen27 June 30, 2012 at 10:31 PM
STEVE CRANE WROTE: "Just to be thorough: "misspelling Mr. Ginsburg's name incorrectly." <- double negative" You're right, of course; careless again. You and Annie Cross correcting our mistakes. Thank you. (You missed on of Dave's, by the way. I see mistakes w/your post, too, but so what. This is a discussion about The Pike House and how Tewksbury is going to handle it, and unfortunately, the discussion is full of childish name-calling and insults as it is. In fact, there's no sense in further discussing it at all until the powers that be make a move on the topic.
Janellen27 June 30, 2012 at 10:45 PM
CHRISTIAN NOEL WROTE: "My point is this. If there is a commercially viable reason to keep it,it lives. My prediction is IRA doesn't raze it. It wouldn't be in their best interests. If the town is willing to put up the money to buy it then it lives. If no one cares then it gets torn down like all the others, in 50 yrs no one remembers." CHRISTIAN: And, that right there is the distinction in attitudes between towns whose residents value their own history and towns whose residents don't. And, you are right. The town does have "a terrible commercial track record". With all the "must have" big retail and commercial ventures of the last couple of decades, for the most part what it does is tie up our Police, Fire and Ambulance services... while many other ventures remain vacant and purposeless. My wish is that this beautiful little town of 25 years ago could go back to that mark and start planning for so-called "growth" and "progress" all over again, but this time w/some common sense, practicality, and sense of aesthetics. Couldn't support The Pike House as a lovely restaurant, but need 3 Chinese take-out places all staring at each other in the same location, fast-food Drive-Thru's, and pizza/sub joints every 100 ft. Even at the height of Jared's TV advertising campaign our town couldn't support it's own Subway, which was then proported to use the the best and freshest breads, etc.. The town couldn't support a book store, back when we actually read books! Sad.
SD From T-Bury July 02, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Oh my head, enough. Janellen, I agree, tobacco is an evil that should be eliminated from the face of the earth (and no, I'm not being sarcastic). I will gladly join you in celebrating when and if the smoke shops are packed up and gone. However, this topic is about the Pike House. Your comments about Mark are WAY out of line. Is he supposed to take that kind of money and just flush it? Where's his incentive to continue helping re-build this town in that scenario? I suggest you log off, take a break and let other people comment. PLEASE!
Janellen27 July 02, 2012 at 06:42 AM
SD: OK, WHICH comments are "way out of line"? Huh? Which, specifically! To you, and all who seem to think Marc is The Saint Who Saved Tewksbury, I dare you, go back through my comments -- which are mostly responses to OTHER people's comments, and most of those atacking ME -- and itemize for me all the "out of line" things I've said about Marc (and, why does everyone here call him Mister Ginsburg, anyway? Are you all his subjects? His employees?) I have asked, repeatedly, for those who claim he "has done a lot for this town" to back up the statement with specifics. I admitted I don't know the man. I admitted the Tewksbury Country Club is a lovely piece of real estate. I'm waiting. Someone tell me what the man has done for the town, and while you're at it, tell me what I've said that is so bad, so out of line, so horrible, that you have a headache. Take two Aspirins and soak it! Why don't you go after the guy who likes the two smoke shops here in town. It was his conversation. Why don't you go after the guy who brought up the two smoke shops? SD, I've been logged off plenty! You used the phrase, "Why don't I LET other people comment". I'm not preventing ANYONE, including your SELF, from commenting. Tell you what: You don't like the fact that I've had had a conversation here, and you don't like that I've politely responded to all the typical Tewksbury rudeness that has been directed my way, YOU log off! You don't have to read this thread at all, OK?
Joe Bill July 02, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Wow Janellen, you seem like a really miserable human. They prescribe medications for people like you.
A T-Townie July 02, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Janellen, Ok, this will be the last time I comment on this thread, because it it turning sour, and not very productive. And, to be quite honest, I feel I'm having a battle of wits with an unarmed person. First, Marc Ginsburg gets the title 'Mr.' because he EARNED it! You spell his name EVERY conceivable way, intentionally, when all you would have to do to find the correct spelling, is look above to the article! Face it, you were doing THAT to get a rise out of everyone. So, your intentions were clear. Second, you whine about his wealth. Marc build it from NOTHING! So, why should he 'give it away' because its an 'old house'. Why do we NEED to preserve anything, so the town can pay for the upkeep of another building that isn't used? If you want to save the Pike house so badly, BUY IT, and donate it! Also, you cry because Mr. Ginsburg owns a Country Club and a helicopter... If you would like a helicopter, I'm sure Marc would give you the name of the dealer who sold him his. Then, YOU could buy one, and stop whining!
A T-Townie July 02, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Janellen, If you don't like that, you would CRY over his car collection!! It's beautiful!! Marc has done a LOT for the town, including bringing commerce in, and creating JOBS. Also, he donated the use of his Country Club LAST June, so that the people of Tewksbury and surrounding communities (5000 people) could view the Bruins Stanley Cup! Proceeds, all $20,000 raised, went to a disabled veterans fund! So, don't say he doesn't 'give back' to the community. He also sponsors school functions, and team sports groups! Mr. Ginsburg has been very generous, and when he makes a donation, usually does so anonymously! Now, on to my last post with you... I never said cigars are 'good' for you. I only said they are not as bad as cigarettes. I suggest to you, if you don't like the 'stinky' cigars, stay out of the cigar shops! Cigar smoking has been on the RISE over the last 12 yrs, so I'm really not concerned with YOUR idea of 'majority' population. Did you poll the town? I only smoke fine cigars, and fine cigars do not ‘stink’. Only cheap ones do!
Steve Berube July 02, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Move it to 17 Lee street and use it as the Bed & Breakfast that will never be completed, its only been 8 years and look at the progress.
Melissa Gleaton July 02, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I think it should move to where the old police station is, and used as town committee offices or something to that extent. It belongs in (or near) town center.
Don Ordway July 05, 2012 at 09:11 PM
When you own the Mona Lisa you don't throw it out because you don't have a place to hang it. Stop asking Mr. Ginsburg to bail Tewksbury out every time we have a problem or we will lose him as well. When you have something that you are trying to make an important decision on take a deep breath. Waiting will cost us nothing when compared to losing.These few words just drove the value of the property up by $50,000.00. Once again Richard Montori is correct make it the Town Hall until we get our act together. The money that we will get for the property today will be spent by tomorrow. In two years the property will increase to a reasonable price and we will have time to make a deal that will benefit the residents of Tewksbury. Today we need the property to attract future investors. It's called town pride. Don't leave pride out of the equation. Besides I love that fantastic building and I'm willing to tear my house down if they will deliver the Pike House to 232 Pringle Street.
Janellen27 July 06, 2012 at 10:47 PM
SD From T-Bury, A T-Townie, Jimmy M, Bill, Joe Bill, Shaun, annie cross, Paul, Steve Crane, Bill vill = The nastiest people I've ever come across in one place! A T-Townie: Your two posts of 9:52 pm Monday have nothing to do with me at all; they're all totally "projection" on your part. You've made so many accusations that have absolutely nothing to do with my own "intentions". My intentions were to share my thoughts on the Hart-Pike House. Clearly, the intentions of all of the above--and especially you--are to hide behind a poster name while you use someone else for an emotional punching bag. In other words, you're professional bullies and you've all shown your true colors. Would any of you come out from behind your poster names and speak the same way to someone in person? Yes, I bet you would, because that's just the kind of stuff you're made of, unfortunately. You're dirty fighters from Tewksbury with a gang mentality, and I've lived in enough of the surrounding communities in Greater Boston to know the difference between dirty fighters looking for a good time and normal participants in an everyday conversation about something of interest to all. Here's what I think: I think you should all leave town yourselves so that others with more intelligence and class can save the town from itself. There is no hope of ever having a respectful conversation with socially inept miserable misfits. Off to The Caswell with you! Smoke that!
Janellen27 July 06, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Oh, and as far as what to do with the house. . . jumping off from something another poster said about putting it beside The Caswell, someone else's suggestion to open it for an "Ol' Folks Home", and the way the rest of this thread has made me feel, I say, combine a couple of those items: Open it for a "Retirement Home for Caswell Hookers and Mean People From Tewksbury", namely, all of the above named in my last post .
hunter July 07, 2012 at 02:05 PM
WOW..people...please continue bashing each other..I find it amusing....sigh "J.W. Buckley" allow me to put forward an idea... Can you guys find land for it? Ask the owners to donate it for a tax break...ask the tv show This Old House" to "restore" it, not renovated it.......everyone would win....just my 2 cents....now back to the fighting lol
A T-Townie July 07, 2012 at 08:52 PM
WAAAAAAAA! If you don't like it here, move! We have just given our thoughts, and since you don't like it, you start crying! You are really annoyed that we, as a town, stick up for Marc! I'll just call him Marc from now on here, because "Mr. Ginsburg" annoys YOU! I HAVE known Marc, personally, for years. I KNOW what he does for the town. If you don't like reading what we (us nasty people) have to say, be gone!
A T-Townie July 07, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Janellen, You continue to whine about how everyone is 'attacking' you. Grow thicker skin! You attacked everyone here, including Marc Ginsburg, whom you have probably NEVER met. "Socially inept miserable misfits'? You looking in a mirror? Billvill was right about 'the pot calling the kettle black'... FYI, with a 143 IQ, I'm highly doubting you could match wits with me in a REAL conversation. As soon as YOU get your MENSA card, you get back to me.
Bob Stratton July 19, 2012 at 11:33 PM
I would like to see a writers workshop center in there - without changing anything on the outside and probably very little on the inside. Bob
SD From T-Bury September 18, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Any news about the house?
Bill Gilman (Editor) September 18, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Two comments have been removed at he request of the person who made them.


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