By Dot Bergin
At their May 3 meeting, members of the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) voted unanimously to declare the house at 445 Concord Road-built in the 1600s-to be of historical significance and thus subject to Bedford’s 18-month demolition delay ruling. A public hearing on the demolition request is set for June 7.
HPC member Don Corey and Town Historian Sharon McDonald have researched the home’s history extensively. Their report (click this link to read the background of the Richard Wheeler house) says the Richard Wheeler house is one of only two structures remaining in Bedford that were built in the 1600s, and one of only six in town that are more than 300 years old.
The report traces the ownership from the earliest days down to the present owners, who acquired the property in 2000. Over the centuries, owners have modified and modernized the dwelling, although efforts have been made to preserve features original to the house. Three out-buildings, which pre-dated the demolition bylaw, were torn down legally. ”The nickname ‘Garrison House’ was used for the property in previous centuries, perhaps because it would have been a secure dwelling occupying high ground in the event of an Indian attack,” according to the report.
About the HPC, and other properties under review on Concord Road
The purposes of the HPC are the preservation, protection, development, and management of Bedford’s historical, archaeological, and cultural assets.
The Commission also has jurisdiction over the Demolition Delay By-Law. If a building or structure was built on or before January 1, 1943 or if the building’s age is unknown, it is the responsibility of the HPC to determine if it is historically significant.
Currently, three other properties on Concord Road — houses at 158, 168, and 247 — are on the HPC’s agenda. At the May 3 meeting, final approval was given for construction of a new home at 178 Concord Road. The Commission had already approved demolition of the existing building, subject to review of the design for a replacement home in keeping with the character of the neighborhood. Hearings on the other properties will be continued.