WESTON — Bulldozers began razing the Benjamin Loring Young House this week, despite efforts by the town to entice the owners of the historically significant mansion built in 1887 to spare the wrecking ball.
On Tuesday morning, bulldozers could be seen knocking down the back side of the home on Young Road. Salvaged doors, cabinets, and other pieces of the shingle-style home designed by William Ralph Emerson turned up on a website for antique building materials last week.
“It really was a remarkable home,” said Marisa Morra, a member of the Weston Historical Commission, which worked through Town Meeting last spring to offer zoning relief and $250,000 to owners Michael and Elizabeth Jones in an effort to save the property.
The Joneses, who live next door to the property at 20 Young Road, could not be reached for comment, and a message left for their attorney, Jonathan White, was not returned.
Morra said commission members did everything they could think of to try to save the property.
“But I’m grateful that in the end the owners allowed us to go into the home and document it so we will have an historical record of the property,” Morra said.
In addition to the commission’s work, she said, Existing Conditions Surveys Inc. took a 3D laser scan of the home, and students from the North Bennet Street School in Boston, which teaches fine craftsmanship, spent time looking at original features such as the dumbwaiter.
“We got every nook and cranny,” said Kurt J. Yeghian of Existing Conditions Surveys Inc.. The computer file of the home’s interior and exterior will be part of the Historical Commission’s archive of the property.
Emerson, a cousin of author Ralph Waldo Emerson, was known as the “father of the shingle style” and he designed this home in a “butterfly plan” with two wings at 45-degree angles off the central hall. The home was built on top of a hill on grounds laid out by the firm of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, known for Boston’s Emerald Necklace and New York City’s Central Park.
Town Meeting last May voted to offer the Young’s $250,000 in Community Preservation Act funds toward preserving the home under a preservation restriction, and a flexible zoning plan that would allow an additional home to be built on the 3.67-acre site.
That offer was rejected, and the Youngs have moved forward with the demolition of the historic home in preparation for new construction.
“The sad truth is that there just aren’t that many people interested in doing restorations on properties like this one,” Morra said.
Zoning would allow two new homes to be built on the site.
Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.