By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – There was a standing room only crowd in the Selectmen’s Room at Town Hall last month, when a real estate auction was held to divest the town of three tax delinquent properties. Zekos Group Auctioneers was contracted to oversee the auction in collaboration with town personnel.
The properties included an historic colonial located at 653 -657 Main St., commercial property at 795 Boston Turnpike and a vacant parcel located at 6 Marlborough St.
The sale of these properties means that nearly $1 million worth of property will be added to the town property tax rolls.
Zekos said that a fierce a bidding war took place for the property located at 795 Boston Turnpike. In tax foreclosure since August of 1994, its last payment of taxes was unknown. The property was purchased by representatives of neighboring Wagner Motor Group for $513,000.
A vacant, undeveloped parcel at 6 Marlborough St. that has been in tax foreclosure since June of 1942 was sold to Annette Hanson, an abutter, for $10,800.
The property that has perhaps received the most discussion among the community was the historically significant two-story colonial, most recently known as the Howard C. Allen Funeral Home, which was in business as recently as 2016.
The home was originally the Thomas Walter Ward house, built in 1803.
In tax foreclosure since 2017, the last tax payment occurred in 2012. Although in disrepair, the property was purchased at auction by Nancy Virzi of Westborough at a price of $345,000. It had an assessed value of $468,300.
Shrewsbury Historical Society member Kris Gustafson shared an excerpt from the book “Old Houses in Shrewsbury,” which was published in 1985 and is available at the Shrewsbury Public Library.
According to the book, the home was built by Sheriff Thomas Walter Ward at a cost of $300. Ward was sheriff of Worcester County from 1805 to 1824.
Town Historian Michael Perna Jr. shared in an email that Ward was the son of General Artemas Ward. He was born in 1758 in Shrewsbury, fought in the American Revolutionary War, married Elizabeth Denny in 1782 and fathered 10 children.
“Since there were no historical restrictions on the property, we can only hope that the building will be preserved in some form,” stated Erik Larson, president of the Shrewsbury Historical Society.
“Town officials applauded the transparent process and were very pleased with the successful outcome,” Zekos said. “All selling prices include buyer’s fees and represent the total price paid. The properties have closed and sales are now complete.”
“I am very pleased with the results of the auction,” noted Shrewsbury Town Manager Kevin Mizikar. “The value shows the strength of both the commercial and residential real estate market within the town of Shrewsbury.”
According to Mizikar, the proceeds of the sale will be used to pay any fees associated with the foreclosure of the properties and the preparation for the sale. The balance of the funds will ultimately be included in the town’s certified Free Cash at the end of this fiscal year and be available for appropriation without restriction in Fiscal Year 2021.