Preservation group eyes Goddard future

March 15, 2013
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With announcement that the former Goddard House nursing home at 201 S. Huntington Ave. is for sale, a preservation group is hoping that the new owners will maintain the building’s historic value.

The sale of the building moves to the next phase a controversy that first began last summer when the Goddard House announced that it was ceasing operation.

“Buildings like Goddard House make an important contribution to the character of the city,” said Greg Galer, executive director of Boston Preservation Alliance (BPA), a nonprofit that advocates for historic preservation projects in the City. “The Alliance believes that all reasonable efforts must be made to find for them a new, viable use so that they remain a part of the city landscape.”

The BPA has been an opponent to the proposed development at 161 S. Huntington Ave., next door to the Goddard House building. The 161 S. Huntington Ave. project will demolish the historic Home for Little Wanderers building.

The Goddard House has said it will prioritize bids that also value the historic character of the building. The ad flyer for the sale says, “This property is ideal for the developer or institutional user seeking to retain and adaptively re-use a prominent and architecturally significant property in a sought-after in-fill location.”

No sales price is attached to the flyer. But in September, Michael Dorion of William Raveis Real Estate & Home Services gave the Gazette a rough sale price of $12.5 million to $15 million for the building. He said at the time, “I think there would be a lot of interest” for a sale.

Galer said the Goddard House has a rich history, with the 1927 building having been designed by the major architecture firm Abbott, Coolidge, Shepley & Bulfinch. He said that the Goddard House, which was originally called The Home for Aged Women, is the oldest elder care organization in state and the third oldest in America.

“There is an important social history to the building as well,” said Galer.

He added, “The building itself is a beautiful example of a Colonial Revival institutional building, one of a series of buildings of the early 20th century built along that stretch of S. Huntington Avenue.”

Galer said BPA realizes upgrades and changes are needed for the building, but would like to see a buyer who respects the historic characteristics of the building, keeping the front facade untouched.

He said BPA has been in contact with the Goddard House and appreciates the language included in the offering that prioritizes adaptive use of the building. But, Galer added, a clear statement that only offers preserving the building would be considered would be ideal.

The announcement last July that the Goddard House was ceasing operations ignited controversy. The decision left about 100 seniors looking for a new home and many people asking questions, including local state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez. The Goddard House and Sánchez were supposed to meet, but that apparently never materialized.

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