Westborough Historical Commission determines more time needed to make Beeman House decision

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By Andrew Strecker, Contributing Reporter

Curtis and Abigail Beeman House
Photo/Bonnie Adams

Westborough – The Westborough Historical Commission held a public hearing Jan. 22 to determine if the Curtis and Abigail Beeman House, located at 50 Flanders Rd. and dating back as early as 1706, is a historic property that should not have a permit issued for its demolition.

“It brings me no joy to tear this building down,” said Josiah Rich, the owner. “My family has lived at the property for decades, but as it stands, the building is not practical in any way, shape or form.” He said he would like to see four housing lots on the 7.3-acre property.

Rich appeared before the commission because according to the town’s bylaws, demolition permits for structures built before 1950 are subject to a determination from the commission as to whether the structure is a “significant building” or not.

At the hearing, the commission, chaired by Hazel Nourse, declined to make that decision. “At this point we should continue the hearing to our next meeting, February 26, and in that time, we can see the interior of the house,” said Nourse. Rich agreed to the commission touring the home to further determine its history.

The Beeman House may be one of Westborough’s earliest surviving homes. Commission member and architectural historian Christian Hedrick said a town assessor’s card has a date of 1706. Other features of the original building indicated origins of 1790 to the early 1800s.

“It’s difficult to put it all together,” said Hedrick.

The Beeman family property was passed down through three generations, and “Deeds weren’t recorded when homes passed down through families,” said Jennifer Doherty, commission member and a historic preservation consultant. A deed does exist from 1826, said Doherty. It connects Chris Beeman, a Westborough selectman and town moderator, buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, to the property.

According to the commission, if the Beeman House is determined to be significant at an upcoming meeting, the town’s building inspector cannot issue a demolition permit for a period of 180 days unless the commission informs the inspector that the applicant has made a reasonable but unsuccessful effort to locate a purchaser, or one willing to preserve, rehabilitate or restore the structure, or has agreed to accept a demolition permit on specified conditions approved by the commission.