Partial demo of historic house stirs controversy

May 24, 2013
By
(Gazette Photo by Peter Shanley) The remains of 6 Peter Parley Road on May 17.

(Gazette Photo by Peter Shanley) The remains of 6 Peter Parley Road on May 17.

PARKSIDE—A construction project at 6 Peter Parley Road, the former home of the pioneer physician Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, has brought rebukes from neighbors and an architectural historian, saying it goes against the original plan and destroyed a historic house.

Meanwhile, the City is saying that it is looking into whether the project falls under the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) review because the house is more than 50 years old. The City said a stop-work order might be issued, though only the first-floor exterior frame remains of a previously three-story, single-family house.

According to Steve Jerome, an architectural historian and member of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society, Zakrzewska was a pioneer woman physician and founder of the New England Hospital for Women and Children, which is now the Dimock Community Health Center. Zakrzewska moved into the newly built house in 1892.

Jerome brought the issue to the Gazette after seeing the construction at the house during a walking tour he gave on Parkside in April.

“It was a real surprise,” Jerome said about the house being mostly demolished.

Several neighbors have called the Gazette to complain about the project, including Francisco Triana, who lives next door at 4 Peter Parley Road.

Triana said the project became an issue for neighbors when it first went through the zoning process three years ago. But, Triana said, they worked with the developer and thought they had come to an agreement where the historic legacy of the house would remain. He said according to the original plan, three decks would have been added and a couple of dormers.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Triana said about the house being demolished to its present state.

According to Dave Baron, chair of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council’s Zoning Committee, neighbors and the developer had come to an agreement on a plan when it was under review in 2011. But the exact nature of that plan is unclear.

Lisa Timberlake of the Inspectional Service Department (ISD) said the proposal went to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), which approved nine variances for the project. The ZBA asked the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) for a design review, which it did and approved the plans, according to Timberlake and BRA spokesperson Melina Schuler.

Timberlake said ISD is “looking into the applicability of Article 85 for this project.” Article 85 means a review by the BLC on any project on a building more than 50 years of age for possible historic preservation, a step that seems not have been taken before permits were issued.

“A stop-work order may yet be issued,” said Timberlake.

BLC did not respond to a request for comment.

The name of the developer is unclear, but according to City documents, the owner is Stephen Pitrowski. A number for him could not be obtained.

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