Residents to weigh in on historic home on the chopping block in Chepachet

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GLOCESTER – Residents will be given the opportunity to weigh in on the impending demolition or saving of an early 1800s structure at 1272 Putnam Pike, near Glocester Memorial Park at the next meeting of the Glocester Town Council.

“It’s a safety hazard,” said Council Vice President Stephen Arnold, at the board’s recent meeting. “I don’t think we need to procrastinate too long in taking it down if we have a game plan for it.”

The town purchased the lot that holds the structure with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act last January, a ten-acre lot at the center of town. But officials noted it was the land and its proximity to the park, not the building, that drew interest. The property was acquired at a cost of $360,000 from prior owners Rene Pigeon and Patricia Mann.

Taking down the building may not be as simple as it appears at first glance, however, councilors noted, and renovation may not be an easy either. Rhode Island Housing Authority estimated the cost of renovation at, “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” according to their report given to Director of Public Works Gary Treml. Demolishing it, meanwhile, would cost an estimated $7,500 for dumpsters to remove the remains with the DPW doing the work of tearing down the building with town equipment and manpower, and filling in the foundation.

Town Solicitor David Igliozzi explained that in order to remove the building, a public hearing would have to be held to allow residents’ input, including, potentially, a way to preserve the building.

“I would listen at the public hearing, just in case the public wants to weigh in,” advised Igliozzi. “They may have questions about the report or other questions.”

Town Clerk Jean Fecteau said the town will post an ad, making it clear that the building might be renovated or demolished, since a decision has not been formally approved. After the hearing, the council can then make a formal decision and move forward either way. Most likely, it seems, the building will be demolished.

Treml previously described the building as having a dirt floor and fieldstone foundation. He said that to renovate the structure, the septic would have to be updated, along with the electrical and plumbing, along with shoring up the structure itself. Walls would have to be torn down to the studs, kitchens and bathrooms replaced, and numerous other repairs made.

The building, which sits on 10 acres of town property, dates back to the 1800s and is described in the 1980 Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission’s report as a “1 and a half story late Victorian structure with a small, brick chimney, a central entry in a 5 bay façade with gabled dormers and a late Victorian porch.” Since the early 1900s, however, the building has been occupied by numerous tenants and owners, and has deteriorated over the years as a result.

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