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Saving the starter homes from being torn down

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Barbara Jones renovated this 1,230-square foot, three-bedroom brick Victorian (above) in Wellesley.Barbara Jones

After renovating her family's 1754 Needham farmhouse and designing and overseeing construction of their summer residence in Westport, Barbara Jones became fascinated with all aspects of building and design. Shortly after the youngest of her four children headed off to kindergarten, Jones was walking through her neighborhood and noticed that an antique house had been torn down. It greatly saddened her that "where the cute little old house had been there was now a big hole," she recalls.

The trend in her hometown, says Jones, is to tear down old houses built during the turn-of-the-last century and replace them with large over-scaled residences. "I started wondering if there was something I could do to save some of these homes, to bring them back to life," she says. In 2011, she incorporated Little Pink Houses (www.littlepinkhousesneedham.com) with the goal of preserving older homes for homebuyers looking for modest sized houses in the lower price range in areas outside of Boston.


"With more and more homes being knocked down, there are fewer opportunities for young families to find starter homes in this area," says Jones.

Jones's first two projects were gut renovations in Needham; a 1908 Victorian and a 1914 Colonial. She sold both of them to homebuyers who cherish the revived architectural details and smaller footprints. Jones recently completed renovations on a third project, a brick Victorian with a hint of gothic architectural flair in Wellesley, built in 1878.

Barbara Jones renovated this 1,230-square foot, three-bedroom brick Victorian (above) in Wellesley.Barbara Jones

A mere 1,230 square feet, the three-bedroom house sits on a half acre lot and is a stroll to town which Jones felt made the structure particularly vulnerable to the possibility of being razed. The structure was solidly built and well maintained over the years, so a major overhaul was unnecessary though a few key elements needed to be addressed. "The original lally columns in the basement were actual cedar trees," says Jones. The trees were kept in place, but extra steel supports were added to ensure the building is structurally sound.


Windows had been painted shut and there were only two hardwired light fixtures in the home; a bedroom and the bathroom didn't have heat. New storm windows were added along with several light fixtures. The house has radiator steam heat and Jones's HVAC contractor was able to find old-fashioned radiators to match the existing ones.

In the front-to-back living/dining area a new window seat flanked by two original leaded glass windows offers seating by the small table. Walls are painted Benjamin Moore Linen White and the moldings are Benjamin Moore White Dove, which promotes an airy appeal in the light-filled space. Indeed, the place is ready for its next century.

Jaci Conry can be reached at jaci@jaciconry.com