Friday, April 23, 2010

More tales of the Giobbe House

Remember this?
Now it looks like this. Nice, huh?
Just what we needed; another driveway. And a fence. That pink tree and green space looked like they were crying for a good paving-over. Note the four windows to the left of the fire escape. Remember these?
Much better, right? Oh, and remember this?
Maybe this will refresh your memory.
Mmm hm. Well, now we have this.

Admittedly, the Giobbe house needed work. But was it really necessary to strip it of all remnants of character and historical value in the interest of selling condos for a big fat profit? However, it's a fait accompli. At a 12/2/2009 meeting of the Somerville Board of Aldermen and the Historic Preservation Society, it was listed in a presentation as a "missed opportunity" and a "notable loss." (page 5)

In contrast, the same document refers to the Hood house, directly across the street, as a "realized opportunity," and as such, it won a 2008 SHPC Director's Award (see the before and after photos on page 9 of the presentation).

Unfortunately, the worst may be yet to come. A March 22, 2010 document from the office of Mayor Joe Curtatone has granted "conditional approval" for MLM Realty to subdivide the parcel of land on which One Benton Road sits (the Giobbe house, as was) into two parcels for further development construction of another building housing three condominiums, thus effectively removing all open space from the lot.

Apparently, I'm not the only one in the neighborhood who's good and pissed off about this. A petition appeared recently on the door to my apartment building stating that "new construction would damage the...watersheds for...two conservation districts;" that according to The Boston Globe (Monday April 5, 2010), "Somerville is already the most paved over and built upon city in the state, with 77% of its area paved over;" that "the treatment of the Giobbe house has been...the essential destruction of the historic character and design integrity of this house;" and that "the work already done on this site gives us no confidence that further building would be of good workmanship and design."

77% paved over! A friend of mine who regularly visits here from New Hampshire is constantly amazed that we all live together with so little space between us in this city, and he's got a point. Every spring I walk around the hills photographing the flowers, trying to preserve the burst of nature that temporarily obscures the almost ubiquitous presence of humans and our objects. Despite the over-development, I love living in Somerville, and I think our remaining 23% is worth fighting for. So do my neighbors. If you're interested in helping, you can sign a copy of the petition online at or stop by 2 Westwood Road or 5 Westwood Road to sign in person.

Additional info:

The Somerville News blog

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Blogger JoEllen said...

Nicely done!

8:39 AM  

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