Historical Commission

Special Town Meeting approves changes to Demolition Review Bylaw

Adopted by Ipswich Town Meeting in April 1987, the Demolition Review Bylaw empowers the Ipswich Historical Commission to advise the Building Inspector with respect to the issuance of permits for demolition of historically significant buildings.

An Architectural Preservation District (APD) was established by the 2014 Town Meeting, extending protection for most of the houses in the Town’s four National Register Historic Districts.

Twenty-six of our 59 First Period houses (constructed before 1720), and 85 second and third period houses (built between the Revolutionary War and 1830) are outside of the APD. Also of importance are the town’s 19th Century Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian neighborhoods. The downtown area of Ipswich that includes Central, Manning, Mineral, Hammatt, Liberty, Brown, Maple and Washington Streets has 98 houses that create an appealing 19th Century streetscape.

Central St., Ipswich Ma
Most of the houses in the Central and Washington Street neighborhoods were constructed during the second half of the 19th Century

Voters approved Article 11 on the Warrant for the Special Town Meeting, Saturday October 17, 2020 to amend the Ipswich Demolition Review bylaw as follows:

(1) The Historical Commission recommended changing the Demolition Review Bylaw to apply to buildings constructed prior to 1915.

The current Bylaw, as adopted in 1987, requires the Historical Commission to review demolition requests for any building over 75 years old. At inception, the bylaw applied to houses built before 1912, but is now beginning to include houses from the post-war period. The Historical Commission feels this rolling date creates an unnecessary burden for owners of 20th Century homes, while distracting from our mandate to protect historic houses.

(2) The Historical Commission proposed changing the demolition delay period for “Preferentially Preserved” historically significant buildings from 12 months to 18 months.

The preponderance of Demolition Review bylaws are in the eastern third of Massachusetts. The shortage of affordable housing and the construction of expensive single family homes has increased incentives to demolish older houses. At least ten communities, including Acton, Brookline, Cambridge, Chatham, Groton, Leverett, Medfield, Medford, Middleborough, and Newton have extended their demolition delays to 18 months to further discourage destruction of historic buildings and provide more time to find preservation alternatives.

2 replies »

  1. Thank you for providing a larger perspective for this proposed change in the bylaws. Some of the homes in the outer Linebrook area were built in the years that might be considered of historical significance, and therefore deserving protection and preservation. There is a lot of development happening currently in the area.

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