STOUGHTON — Thomas Glover Jr. was 52 when he and a company of men from Stoughton marched toward the battles of Lexington and Concord. They arrived too late to take part, but just making the effort at that age showed something.
The Glover family had been prominent in the affairs of Boston and Stoughton from the earliest days of the Massachusetts Colony. John Glover, the great-great-grandfather of Thomas Jr., first appears in Charlestown records in 1628, and then in Dorchester, where he was a selectman, in 1636.
Between 1752 and 1770, 11 children were born to Thomas Jr. and Rachel Glover in their home at 480 Sumner St., and all but one eventually married, producing 73 grandchildren.
So when the present owner of the property obtained a demolition permit for the home — which was completed between 1744 and 1750, and is believed to be one of the three oldest structures in Stoughton — and an adjacent barn, the town’s Historical Commission decided to stand and fight.
“We knew if we as a board didn’t fight this battle, we weren’t going to fight any battle,” said Dwight MacKerron, its chairman.
The commission reached an agreement with the property owner last week that will buy time to obtain funding to disassemble the Glover house and barn and move them from the property. The July 28 pact, approved by the panel on 3-1 vote, would also allow Samuel Shoneye to begin demolition after Dec. 31 if no contract to remove them is in place by then. In addition to finding the money for the project, the commission will also be seeking a place to reassemble the buildings.
Shoneye, a town resident who has owned the Sumner Street property for eight months, has obtained a variance from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals to build two houses there.
‘We knew if we as a board didn’t fight this battle, we weren’t going to fight any battle.’
The Historical Commission is hoping the town’s Community Preservation Committee and voters at Special Town Meeting in October will approve spending approximately $100,000 from the committee’s coffers to disassemble the structures, label the pieces, and put them in temporary storage.
“We made great progress on getting through the first third of our goal,’’ MacKerron said of the agreement with Shoneye. “Getting the CPC and Town Meeting to approve the money will be the next third, and then getting procurements in place and a contract signed by the end of the year will be last third of this first chapter.”
The commission is holding a hearing on its plan Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Fitzpatrick Room at Town Hall.
In return for Shoneye not pressing for an earlier demolition date, the commission agreed to recommend to Building Commissioner Thomas McGrath that he be allowed to begin work on the two homes he plans to build. McGrath said last week that if Shoneye submitted a building permit application and site plan done with the expectation that the house and barn would be removed, he would consider it.
Under the town’s demolition delay bylaw, the Historical Commission automatically reviews applications for permits to raze homes older than 75 years old. Based on Shoneye’s application, it had declared the Glover site to be “historically significant” at an earlier meeting, starting the clock on what could have been a six-month delay in the demolition process. The motion that passed July 28 set up a new timetable.
Commission member George Hagerty, a member of the Timber Framers Guild of America, had called for preserving the structures on the site if funding could be found, or moving them to a new location. Hagarty said he had spoken to experts who believed the buildings could be saved, and also outlined possible options for preserving the home’s original timbers. The house is of the typical English construction of the 1740s, while the barn was added later.
Shoneye, who attended the July 28 meeting, said he sympathized with the commission’s goals and wanted to help, but doubted it could obtain the funding it needed. “I don’t want to see the home crushed,” he said.
Both the house and barn have fallen into disrepair in recent years. The floors of wide boards are sagging badly, and the roof is “wavy” and has a large hole covered by plastic sheeting.
The structures don’t qualify for state preservation funding or protection. While the house has been listed locally as a site of historical interest, it has been a private residence and was never entered on the state’s Register of Historic Places.
MacKerron bemoaned “the ones that got away” previously in Stoughton, including a house on Pine Street that dated to the 1700s that was too far along in the demolition process to be saved, and a four-sided chimney in another building now lost.
“Pine Street ended up getting crushed,” he said. “We don’t want to see that again.”Rich Fahey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.