Historic District Study Committee Takes Shape

The group was approved by selectmen last week and plan to meet soon.


Selectmen appointed five Historic District Study Committee members who will investigate protections for historic elements along Humphrey Street between the Civil War monument and the Fish House.

Appointed on April 25, were architect Dana Anderson, real estate agent and Historical Commission member Sylvia Belkin, resident Mary DeChillo, member Jer Jurma and Warren Sawyer of the housing nonprofit.

Selectman Jill Sullivan said the make-up represented a good cross-section of Swampscott.

The selectmen's chairman, Rich Malagrifa, said he's excited about the prospect of having a historic district proposal presented at a Town Meeting in the future.

New Town Administrator Thomas Younger volunteered to assist in any way he can, saying he has 17 years experience working with historic districts.

"I'll be more than happy to share my experience with you," he said.

According to a Q&A on the study, the committee will undertake the following:

  • Make an inventory of historically significant buildings, structures and landscapes
  • Identify boundaries
  • Survey and meet with residents and property owners
  • Review and discuss the study with the Massachusetts Historical Commission
  • Present study information at a public hearing and seek approval from Town Meeting by gaining two-thirds of the delegates support

The group was appointed in the wake of the demolition of Cap'n Jack's Inn, three buildings on Humphrey Street, one of which was built in the mid-1830s.

Members of the Demolition Delay Committee, charged with negotiating agreements to preserve historical elements marked for the wrecking ball, said the town's Demolition Delay by-law was ineffective because compliance was voluntary.

In short, it lacks teeth.

This new committee will spend a year or more determining whether a historic district makes sense for the town, members says.

The district's establishment will need Town Meeting approval.

The study will take lots of time and effort so it will not be presented at Monday's Town Meeting.

More than 220 communities have historic districts in Massachusetts including those in Salem and Marblehead.

The district, if formed, would protect historic elements and character by requiring a review for changes to exteriors and site features if they can be seen from a public way, the study Q&A states.



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