Garfield House photo gallery

Above: The Southborough Historical Society’s website provides a description of the Burnett estate layout and buildings. (Click here for enlarged photo.)

Southborough Historical Society member Paul Doucette provided a bounty of photos of the old Burnett (aka Garfield) house and estate. (Most were taken from past real estate listings, but he received permission for use.) They include interior shots of rooms and features.

The society has added information on the estate and a gallery to their site. Of course, all of this is in service of their quest to save the estate. Referring readers to the online petition, the website explains:

We hope the developer will recognize the passion that town has for this magnificent property and may reconsider [demolishing the house.]

As of this post, the petition had surpassed 1,000 signatures. Click here to support it. Click here for the demonstration blog.

Below are galleries of contributed photos organized by section of the estate.

1. The main house (aka Stone House).

[Note: At the recent Planning Board meeting, developer Robert Moss stated that the recent owners had done light demolition inside the house, knocking through walls to see what they were dealing with. These photos were taken prior to that work.]:


2. The summer house (aka bungalow):


3. The Stone Chapel (aka Stone Shop):


4. The Carraige House (aka Stable):


5. Landscape shots

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Doreen A
9 years ago

I have been following this entire discussion on the blog. I had formulated an opinion on the subject like so many others, but now that I have seen these pictures my opinion is even stronger than before. There is no way Mr. Moss could possibly restore this estate and not go broke.

He bought this old rundown estate with the intention of developing a beautiful four cottage property. From what I understand there are no historical bylaws in town preventing him from tearing this dilapidated property down and rebuilding.

Would you rather preserve something that is this far gone or build something with character and charm (as Mr. Moss wants to do) that is beautiful? Just because something is new doesn’t mean it can’t add to the esthetics of Southborough.

Let’s make new history on this beautiful property. Sometimes out with the old and in with the new is the better option.

Rebecca Deans-Rowe
9 years ago
Reply to  Doreen A

It’s funny how one person sees “dilapidated’ and another sees craftsmanship and wood working that will never be replicated. I doubt anything built in place of this home will still be standing in 150 years.

Yes, it is a major undertaking, but people restore historic properties all the time. I believe there is someone out there willing to take this on, especially now that we are coming out of the recession.

With such historic and architectural significance, whomever buys this property has an obligation to attempt to preserve it, much like someone who buys a rare manuscript or important oil painting. Once it goes down, it is gone forever, and we have no influence whatsoever on what goes up in its place. The intention might be for cottages now, but, as we have seen, intentions can change.

deborah Costine
9 years ago

HI agree Rebecca,
It is rare that the quality of “new” can come anywhere close to the quality of what we see in this house. New construction always has an eye toward the bottom line cost. We might be impressed with shiny granite counter tops and designer faucets etc but the underlying structure, the massive stonework and fine woodworking is too costly for a developer. And yes, there is no guarantee that the builder’s intentions will remain the same as what we are being told, just as the Delli Priscolis intended to bring the estate back to its “original glory” and then decided the commute to Carver was too long and sold it to someone who planned to demolish it. Big change!

Paul Bourdon
9 years ago
Reply to  Doreen A

I will second Rebecca’s post. This kind of craftsmanship is impossible to impossible to reproduce in this day and age unless you spend a fortune. Also, are we looking at the same pictures? I also like the use of the word “cottage”. Are these 3500 sq ft cottages?

Elizabeth Garfield
9 years ago

My brother, who died in 1990, was an architect with a passion for historic preservation. His passion was fired by this house he grew up in. He was in charge of a major preservation project in Philadelphia. Please visit the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia to see what historical preservation can look like and accomplish or you can visit him in the Southboro cemetery. His name is Irvin McDowell Garfield III.

9 years ago

Thank you for posting these photos. For most of us it is the closest we will ever get to seeing the interior of this beautiful home which has fascinated many of us for years. Tearing it down will be a real loss to Southborough.

9 years ago

“The society has added information on the estate and a gallery to their site.”

Should be “…and a gallery to its site.” The word society is a singular, not a plural.

Judith Bailey Keneman
9 years ago

Thank you for your comments Elizabeth and sharing information about your brother. The Reading Terminal Market is outstanding in its beauty and grasp of historic elements. It has been the example for so many other restorations around the country. I grew up almost next door to your family and this demolition plan has shaken me to the core. It is easy to come up with wonderful solutions – like a conference center, bed and breakfast or even a museum – but they all cost money. Hopefully, someone or group will be inspired to invest in a plan that will preserve such an historic landmark. As we have seen this week many people are upset and want to preserve the house. Hopefully that enthusiasm will spread into long term support and fund raising.

9 years ago

Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to face reality. Not knowing what upgrades have been done to this mansion over the years, I will say, if I had to re-wire and re-plumb my 60yr. old 1 1/2 story Cape, 911 would be called when I got the final bill. This man paid plenty for this piece of “property”, and would have to double that amount to get it livable. Someone with that kind of money doesn’t stumble blindly into an investment, he knew what he was doing, he’ll make out with a pretty penny in his pocket. My only semi-realistic hope is that he will open it up for a day to let us all just take in the splendor of yesteryear before another piece of history is gone forever. Being born here in 1954, I was always proud of my small little town with all it’s history, but today, not so much…

9 years ago

Doreen, I understand what you’re saying. While the house is beautiful and contains fine craftsmanship, I can only imagine how much money would be needed to restore this glorious property to its original state. Windows, flooring, cabinets, heating, plumbing, . . .

I think our community needs to understand that we do not know the full story of this developer. He might have taken out a loan that consists of “new construction,” not “reconstruction.” Perhaps that is the way a bank would even let a potential investor purchase this property. We have to be realistic here and I hope that whatever the outcome is that our community is welcoming to him. Perhaps this will fuel our town to pass a historical bylaws which could protect some of the older properties in our town.

However, I do think the young kids protesting are an amazing group. It truly warms my heart to see such young people standing up for something in which they believe. Bravo!

9 years ago

Beautiful, just beautiful property! Tantamount to Downton Abbey! And were we not all mezmarized by that BBC production? Lets preserve this Stone House and its environs and redeem the town for omission of failing to register it properly.

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