House tear-down on hold


HYDE SQ.—Demolition of part of an 1813-era farmhouse at 33 Bynner St. was put on hold by the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) last week.

The BLC imposed “demolition delay” on the project at an Oct. 24 hearing, meaning developer Gary Martell must wait 90 days to consider possible alternatives. If Martell can convince the BLC that there are no alternatives, demolition could be allowed earlier than that. Otherwise, the BLC ultimately can’t stop the demolition after the 90 days are up.

Martell reportedly originally intended to save the entire house, which is one of Jamaica Plain’s oldest and recommended for historic protection by the BLC. But now he is proposing to demolish a section of the house, saying it is in disrepair. That section may be original and is at least a very old addition, according to the BLC.

Martell is building a new house next to the historic house. He did not return a Gazette phone call for this article.

The old house currently has no historic protection. The strongest protection would be official landmark status. One way to get that status is for residents to file a petition with the BLC.

According to the demolition delay process, Martell was supposed to hold a public meeting about the demolition plans before the BLC hearing. It is unclear whether such a meeting took place. The Mayor’s Office, which is supposed to make sure the meeting happens, did not have immediate comment.

Martell drew controversy earlier this year with the 33 Bynner project when he cut down large trees and demolished a rock outcropping the BLC had once identified as a significant historic landscape feature. The tree-cutting helped spark a local effort to save trees.

“This person is not to be trusted with our treasured history,” said Kathy
Holland, a member of JP Trees, about Martell, referring to his previous tree-cutting. “Now he’s going to smash down part of the house. Not many cities have something that goes back to the War of 1812.”

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