Potential buyer wants to restore historic Garfield House

Above: Southborough’s historic Garfield House has been on the market for more than 7 months

Fans of Southborough’s historic Garfield House will likely be happy to hear this news. A Sudbury developer has offered to purchase the 4-acre property at 84 Main Street, not to subdivide and develop it, but to restore the mansion and its grounds to their former glory.

The stone house, built in 1849 by Southborough benefactor Joesph Burnett and later purchased by descendants of President James Garfield, has been on the market since last fall. After an auction in November failed to yield any bids, the home was listed for just over $1.1M. The price was later dropped to $995K.

Southborough attorney William Pezzoni represents the potential buyer and described his client — who Pezzoni asked not be named because he wants to keep a low profile — as a Renaissance man, an entrepreneur who loves antiques and who has undertaken large restoration projects in the past. Pezzoni said his client intends to live in the home after restoring it.

But the sale on the Garfield House is not yet final, and Pezzoni said his client is only interested in buying it if he knows he’ll be able to execute his restoration plans.

The property borders the Sudbury Reservoir and a small brook runs through it, so much of the work would need to be approved by Southborough’s Conservation Commission before it could take place. Pezzoni went before the commission last night to find out if they had any major concerns.

“He has all great intentions,” Pezzoni said of his client, “But he doesn’t want to embark on it unless he feels the community will be behind it.”

Aside from work on the stone house itself, Pezzoni said his client has a copy of the original landscaping plan for the home and intends to restore the grounds according to that plan. Pezzoni said much of the work would involve clearing out invasive plants that have grown up along the brook and reservoir and restoring the original plantings.

Pezzoni said his client also wants to rebuild the gazebo and move it to its original spot closer to the reservoir. Restoring the garage and chapel that sit alongside the reservoir are also in the plan.

A formal application has not been filed with the Conservation Commission, and member Rhonda Russian said they would need more detail before issuing a ruling, but she said nothing they discussed last night raised any red flags. She encouraged Pezzoni to be thorough in his application and said the review would likely be “an extended process.”

“We don’t think there’s something that’s a full stop on it,” Russian told Pezzoni, “But it’s going to be a lot of work.”

The Conservation Commission isn’t the only board Pezzoni will need approval from to complete the restoration plans. He said his client wants to rebuild the tower that originally graced the top of the home, which would require a height variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

If the sale goes through, Pezzoni said his client plans to restore the estate over the next 2-1/2 years.

“This guy as far as I’m concerned is doing us a favor in preserving this building,” Pezzoni said. “He wants to make sure he does everything right.”

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Jerry C
13 years ago

This could be absolutely great news. What a week, the Bruins win the Stanley Cup (GO BRUINS) and it looks like someone will fix up that beautiful property.

13 years ago

Nice! I hope it goes through.
It’s a beautiful property, and it would be wonderful to see it restored. Let’s hope the plans don’t interfere with Zoning board or Conservation rules that have been enacted way after the house was built and the structures moved or torn down. I’d hate to see putting something back the way it was being interfered with by newer town govt rules (with basic safety caveats of course!). It would be sad if that got in the way of preserving something so historic

Ed Pearson
13 years ago

I’m so glad to hear. I hope good intentions are not hindered by red tape.

Cindy Rotermund
13 years ago

yea!! Hope this goes thru without a huge hassle. I was so afraid someone would come in and rip it down.

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