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The $1.5 million Tear-Down

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis July 16, 2014 08:17 AM

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OK, maybe it's not Downton Abbey.

Still, Southborough's Garfield House is pretty grand. The 13 bedroom, five-and-a-half bath stone mansion was built in 1850 by businessman and philanthropist Joseph Burnett. Founder of St. Mark's School, Burnett spent summers there with his wife and 12 children, with the house staying in the family until 1947.

There's even a chapel - Burnett also started the first Episcopal church in town as well - and some beautiful grounds with lots of old trees.

While it clearly needs some work, the grand old house on Main Street is considered a jewel of the town, the MetroWest Daily News notes.

They definitely don't build houses like that anymore. (Here's a great write-up by the local historical society, with lots of great old photos stretching back into the 1800s.)

But tell that to the owner. A local developer has spent $1.5 million to buy the old manse and its valuable land, with plans to level the house and build three English cottages in its place, the paper reports.

Garfield House, Southborough.jpg

Burnett's great granddaughter drove down from New Hampshire to plea for clemency, to no avail.

"I felt like I'd been punched in the middle," Barbara Kanter told the Daily News. "We were just so shocked we couldn't speak. It breaks my heart that it's going to go."

To be fair, the new owner claims it will cost anywhere from $1.2 million to $1.5 million to renovate the house, which, he contends, is a handyman's special on the inside, even if the exterior is beautiful.

Yet, let's think about this. If you simply want land on which to build your dream home, why buy an historic mansion?

Yes, buildable land is hard to come by these days, but come on.

But then again, beyond the drama, the deal highlights the rapid escalation in property and home prices that we've seen over the past couple years in Greater Boston.

The previous owner bought the Garfield House just two years ago for $850,000. Owner of Edaville Railroad, he decided to sell after realizing his commute to Carver, way down in the Plymouth area, was more than he bargained for, according to the paper.

In fact, is the kind of buy and demolish deal that has been running rampant in upscale suburbs on the 128 belt like Needham and Newton.

Now it appears to be spreading.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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