A 23-room Victorian at 10 Melville Ave. in Dorchester — the boyhood home of brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block — was put up for sale a few weeks ago for an asking price of about $1.7 million.
But no matter how much it sells for (or if it sells at all), it’s possible that the former home of two of the “Hangin’ Tough” hitmakers could soon have a special designation. The sprawling abode — built in 1880, purchased by the Knight family in 1972, and sold to the Salvation Army in 1996 — is currently in a “Step by Step” process to become a landmark “of national significance” with the city of Boston.
Dorchester neighbors, led by John Amodeo, commissioner for the Boston Landmark Commission, have banded together to submit the house for landmark status, according to an article from the Dorchester Reporter.
In a preliminary hearing on Oct. 12, the commission greenlit the petition, moving it onto the study report phase, which details the historic or architectural significance of the building, according to the BLC’s website.
“It’s an interesting building that should be designated,” said Earl Taylor, president of the Dorchester Historical Society and an advocate for the landmark status, to the Dorchester Reporter. “In the recent past, the boy band connection is definitely an association worth celebrating.”
The regal three-story property has long been a mecca for NKOTB superfans. Hordes of them flocked to the residence back in the band’s heyday in the late ‘80s and ‘90s — even after the band members moved out.
“People were camped out there all the time and coming to the door,” said Sharon Knight, a sibling of the musical brothers, in a 2008 Globe article. “We had to put up a big wrought-iron fence.”
The house, a nine-bedroom, five-bath manse near Dorchester Center, sits on a grassy 35,000-square-foot lot. According to the real estate listing by Michael Dorion of The Residential Group at William Raveis Real Estate, the pad boasts a porte-cochère entrance, 10 parking spaces, and a rear carriage house, which was featured in the NKOTB “Games” music video.
The carriage house, however, is “in need of extensive repair,” and a frozen pipe last year caused some damage to the interior of the home, where some of the rooms “have been gutted to the studs,” the listing said.
After the house was sold to the Salvation Army, it became known as The Jubilee House, and was used for religious and community services, according to the real estate listing. In September 2020, the organization announced that the Jubilee House would merge with Kroc Center of Boston in Uphams Corner, and would therefore be moving out of the former boy band dwelling.
Besides its starry recent history, the landmark petition pointed to several of the home’s architectural features as reasons to preserve it, such as its “asymmetrical Queen Anne/Stick Style” construction, the intersecting gable roof, and the Palladian window.
Its historical background is also significant — the petition said the house was originally owned by John Worcester Field, a leather merchant, and was designed by architect George Meacham, who also designed the Boston Public Garden.
Andrew Saxe, another petitioner, told the Dorchester Reporter that he fears the building, unless preserved, would be torn down by developers.
“If Boston cannot preserve 10 Melville, then just throw in the towel,” he said. “Does it have an important architect? It was done by the same architect as the Public Garden. Is it architecturally important? Its twin house in Newton is an iconic house that is protected. Is it associated with someone famous? Well, Mr. Fields was a prosperous merchant. However, a century later these kids came out of there who were a national phenomenon. It checks every box, for goodness sakes.”
Dana Gerber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @danagerber6.