Brainstorming survival of the Burnett-Garfield House – this Thursday

Above: “Friends” of the historic Burnett-Garfield House at 84 Main Street are looking for help preserving the property. (Image left by Kate Mattison, image right contributed)

On Thursday night, the Friends of the Burnett-Garfield House are holding a community forum. The purpose is to talk through ways to preserve the historic property at 84 Main Street:

The Friends of The Burnett-Garfield House invite all town residents to attend a Public Forum this coming Thursday, March 12th from 7:00 – 8:30 in the Main Room of the Library.

During this short gathering, the group will update residents on the current status of the house and property, share a brief overview of the historical and economic value of preserving it, and invite the community to brainstorm potential solutions for achieving a positive outcome for all.

Here’s the full press release for more information:

The Friends of the Burnett-Garfield House is pleased to announce a forum to discuss ways to preserve the historic Southborough property on Thursday, March 12, at the Southborough library.

The meeting comes on the heels of the news that Burnett-Garfield House owner Jon Delli Priscolli will no longer sell property development rights to the town on the grounds that certain requirements to protect the historic home were too restrictive. 

Despite the failure of the deal, Mr. Delli Priscolli and Joe Hubley, chairman of the Southborough Historical Commission, have expressed a continuing interest in a satisfying resolution for all parties, according to news reports. Both the commission and owner are inclined to preserve the house, but for Mr. Delli Priscolli, the solution may mean finding another buyer who will agree to oversee the house’s conservation. 

Southborough’s own Joseph Burnett — philanthropist and founder of both St. Mark’s School and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church — built the house at 84 Main Street in 1849, as a home for his wife and children. The 13-bedroom, French Second Empire structure sits on acres purportedly designed by the firm of Frederic Law Olmsted. The property passed onto Michael Garfield, a grandson of the 20th president of the United States before the Delli Priscolli family bought the home with the intent to restore it to its former glory.

The Friends of the Burnett-Garfield House aim to assist Mr. Delli Priscolli in realizing that dream. To them, the property is not just a house, but an integral part of Southborough’s character.

“Our community has an opportunity to think creatively about how we can save The Burnett House, one of the most vital and visible links to Southborough’s unique past,” said Christa Brady, Chair of The Friends of the Burnett House. “Its lasting presence can remind or inform us all that the character and actions of one man, in our case Joseph Burnett, can make a difference that flows down through the ages. With its prominent place on Main Street, The Burnett House anchors us to the past while inspiring our children.”

Possible avenues for preservation may include selling to a private owner who seeks a unique residence, or developing the house into a viable commercial venue, such as a museum, bed-and-breakfast, or restaurant. The meeting is an opportunity for local residents to voice their opinions and ideas for saving the property.

The advocacy group hopes the forum will be a big step forward in the ongoing endeavor to preserve the house. The organization developed out of a grassroots campaign led by teenage girls last summer against the potential demolition of the property by developer Robert Moss. The teenage preservationists and other local residents held signs outside the Burnett-Garfield House for weeks to raise awareness of the issue and energize the town into action. The campaign was considered a success when Mr. Delli Priscolli decided not to extend a purchase agreement with the developer. Mr. Delli Priscolli was unaware of Moss’ intentions when he initiated the deal. The Friends of the Burnett-Garfield House was formed afterward to continue advocating for preservation and educate town residents on the benefits of saving the property. Despite months of campaigning, they show no signs of slowing down.

“Southborough has already let enough of its character and distinction fall away,” wrote Kate Martin, Vice Chair of The Friends of the Burnett House, on the local blog My Southborough. “If we fail to [sic] protect our history and our heritage, we will become another drive-through town between Worcester and Boston.”

Further information for the forum:

Thursday, March 12th at 7:00 – 8:30 PM at the Southborough Public Library.

Contact information for The Friends of the Burnett-Garfield House:

If you would like to know more or get involved to help save this house, please visit The Friends of the Burnett-Garfield House website:
Or please email us at:
Or like us on facebook at Friends of the Burnett-Garfield House

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