Auction date set for Garfield House

by susan on October 25, 2010

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A new auction date has been set for the historic Garfield House located on Main Street between Parkerville and Deerfoot Roads. The 1849 stone mansion once owned by decedents of President James Garfield will hit the auction block on Thursday, November 4.

The house was originally scheduled to be auctioned off in August, but the sale was postponed until a new septic system could be installed. You can read more details in the Metrowest Daily News.

The 10,000-plus square foot home was built in 1849 by Southborough benefactor Joseph Burnett. Although it has historic value, there’s nothing in the town bylaws that would require it to be preserved. The 4-acre lot has been approved for subdivision, and a developer could choose to tear down the original stone house. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out.

There will be two more open houses before the auction if you’re curious to take a look — one on Saturday, October 30 from 12:00 to 2:00 pm, and another on Wednesday, November 3 from 12:00 to 2:00 pm.

Find more details about the property on the Oak Realty website (oakrealtyonline.com/southborough).

Update: The web address for Oak Realty doesn’t seem to work anymore. Try this one instead.

1 wondering October 25, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Should we be concerned that St. Marks (it was built by the founder of the school, I believe) or Fay would buy this at below value at auction or before, build out the lot for the approved subdivision for dorms or such and take even more off the Southborough property tax income? The more property the schools purchase, the fewer properties that are taxable by the town and that lack of taxable income is spread to homeowners. Is there a way to limit the amount of property that tax-exempt entities purchase in town? Aren’t these schools private, profitable institutions? It boggles my mind why they are not obligated to pay property taxes which support the police department (servicing these schools), the fire department (also, servicing these schools), the department of public works, board of health, library, etc. Sorry to rant, but a $10,000 PILOT payment doesn’t cut it. I have seen the arguments that those schools are prestige for the town, but if we required PILOT payments or the equivalent, what would THEY do? Move? Let them. I can only imaging how much taxable income that would add to the town! btw, does anyone know what percentage of potentially taxable property St. Marks and Fay school own in Southborough?

2 Al Hamilton October 26, 2010 at 10:29 AM

They are private, and they may be profitable but they are not for profit institutions and are by law exempt from property taxes.

I agree with you that it is fundamentally unfair. Being part of a community implies sharing the burdens of being part of the community. Even without arguing “they take students and costs out of our Ed system” issue (which I believe is a fallacy) they are not carrying their fair share.

3 Kelly Roney October 26, 2010 at 11:49 AM

State law exempts many non-profits, including educational institutions, from local property taxes – but not all non-profits. The gory details of local tax exemptions are in MGL Ch. 59, Section 5, and paragraph Third is (I think, but I’m not a lawyer) the one that exempts St. Mark’s.

As with every other state I’m aware of, we’ve democratically decided it’s good for society at large to exempt some activities from taxation, and schools are among them, even if they cost their hosts (us) more than the benefits they bring directly to us. The theory – and I agree with it – is that the overall benefits are worthwhile to Massachusetts in general.

4 David Scattergood October 27, 2010 at 11:34 AM

The Garfeld house has always been a fixture of the communityand represents a historical testament to the town. It should be preserved in its present form and the land it is on preserved, without change.

We lived in Southborough for 34 years and finally moved to New Hampshire. The primary reason for leaving a town we really liked was that it changed in ways that concerned us and which we felt were damaging. I hope the Garfield house will not represent another such change.

5 Donna McDaniel October 27, 2010 at 6:59 PM

Note: It’s not accurate to say “once occupied” by descendants of Pres. Garfield. The last occupant–Elinor Garfield–was married to a descendant as the name suggests. So technically not a blood relative but one who bore the Garfield name by marriage. That’s why it has still been referred to as the “Garfield house.”
We can only hope that someone with the money needed to consider such property (rather than spending same on building another new house) will appreciate its historical importance and character and buy it in order to preserve it. Will it be so? As I said, we can hope. It is, after all, a home and grounds that help make Southborough unique.

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