Southborough Historical Society Launches List of Endangered Historic Buildings

The barn at 135 Deerfoot Road

In keeping with its renewed mission of actively promoting historic preservation in Southborough, the Society today launches its list of historic structures that are threatened with demolition. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be introducing you to various buildings around town,  explaining the factors that threaten them with destruction, and offering some suggestions for their preservation.

#1 The Barn at 135 Deerfoot Road

Number one on our list of endangered structures is the barn at 135 Deerfoot Road., which Brendon Homes purchased earlier this year as part of a 25-acre agricultural parcel, and then almost immediately applied to demolish. It is currently subject to the Demolition Delay By-law, though these protections will shortly expire. Some of you will remember my criticism of the Board of Selectmen for choosing not to place this agricultural parcel in front of Town Meeting to debate its acquisition and preservation—despite the recommendation to the contrary of every relevant Town committee and commission. And in fact, my comments turned out to be exactly on point. Instead of keeping the land out of development, the former farm will now be carved up into six housing lots,  the 1870s farmhouse will be destroyed, and more traffic and more school-age kids and more demands on our already overtaxed Town services will be a reality.

However, there is still hope for the magnificent barn.

This wonderful 19th century structure is in pristine shape. Made mostly of now-extinct American chestnut, the 3-story wooden barn is sound and almost entirely free of rot or pests.  Best of all, it is largely of mortise and tenon construction, meaning that it is put together with wooden pegs and fitted joints, much like Lincoln logs. This makes buildings like these very easy to disassemble and move—essentially you label the pieces and simply take them down in the reverse order they were put up.

Both the Historical Society and the Historical Commission have urged Brendon Homes to help move and preserve the structure, and there may be a glimmer of light here.  We have been investigating whether or not this magnificent barn might find a new home at Chestnut Hill Farm, where there is a need for  additional educational and meeting space.  What a fantastic act of civic responsibility it would be if Brendon Homes would subsidize the moving and preservation of this structure!

Let’s hope the agricultural gods hear our prayers, because it would be a crime to lose this very rare survivor of Southborough’s agricultural past.


Editor’s Note: Our Endangered Building List consists of structures that are actively threatened with demolition, demolition by neglect, or by changing patterns of use that would harm their architectural integrity. Buildings are added to the list in the order proposed, and their numeration does not necessarily indicate ranking or perceived  level of threat.

6 Replies to “Southborough Historical Society Launches List of Endangered Historic Buildings”

  1. Wishing you success. Mendon is going through the same thing. It has lost five historic buildings in the past few years with several more in jeopardy. The loss of the Taft Orchard House on the corner of Route 16 and North Ave. did persuade the town to establish an historic district which allows owners of historic homes to create a district of one house.
    Alas, our boards and commissions are often more interested in increased tax revenue than historic preservation.

  2. This barn’s redeeming features are that it was built of chestnut wood and with timber-peg construction. There is a mountain lodge in Sudbury that was constructed of enormous chestnut logs and served as a restaurant during prohibition: it still stands strong today. And what more appropriate home for this bit of historic New England architecture than Chestnut Hill Farm where numerous event attendees will actually get to see its structure from the inside.

    1. The initial reaction was cautiously interested, but we just received a letter last week declining the offer. I’ve written back for further clarification.

  3. Surely there’s an old farmhouse in Southborough in need of a good sturdy barn?
    Such a beautiful, practical, and valuable addition to any property!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *