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What to Do with the 'White House?'

While their guidance on many proposed CPA projects was a little fuzzy, one thing came across crystal clear: members of the BOS believe the White House is a disgrace to Lexington Center and something needs to be done about it – soon.

Asked to weigh in on projects eligible for Community Preservation Act funding, the Board of Selectmen Monday expressed mixed feelings about several items, including plans to stabilize the White House.

Before the Community Preservation Committee moves proposals forward to annual Town Meeting, the selectmen offer input on some items on the list. While the guidance given during their Dec. 12 meeting was, at times, a little fuzzy one thing came across crystal clear: members of the BOS believe is a disgrace to Lexington Center and something needs to be done about it – soon.   

With that being said four of the five are not ready to opine on spending  $202,000 to stabilize any bit of the White House until hearing the Historic Districts Commission’s view on moving the decaying Greek Revival, or sections of it, from 1557 Massachusetts Ave. to the Leary Land.

“My view is we should continue to see if this would work with the HDC, see what the neighborhood thinks about it and see what LexHAB thinks if it would work,” said Selectwoman Deb Mauger.

In addition to being used for affordable housing on the Leary Land, other ideas expressed Monday included razing the building, stabilizing and then figuring out a use and using that space as an expansion of the , which is located right next door. Dawn McKenna, chairwoman of the Tourism Committee, also suggested the White House could serve as the temporary headquarters for the Liberty Ride, while the town decides on a permanent use.

Selectmen chairman Hank Manz, the lone vote in favor of stabilizing the White House and figuring out the use at a later date, said he understands those actions would possibly creating a shell, but also feels there are many uses for that shell.

Selectman Peter Kelley, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with the building and noted concerns about the building’s foundation date back 25 years.

“I never felt it was worthy of any investment other than the cost to crush it and move it,” he said, later adding that he would like to see the land cleared and used for a big tent party during the town’s 300th anniversary celebrations. “We’re just wasting good public money dressing that pig up. It’s bad news.”

Whatever happens with the White House, the selectmen said it should happen soon.

“I think we really do need to do something quickly,” said Selectman Norm Cohen. “It’s been sitting there and it really is a disgrace."

 

With that in mind, we want to know, What do you think should be done with the White House? Take our poll and share your opinions to the comments section below.

Denise J. Dubé December 15, 2011 at 04:31 AM
In a perfect world -- and if the building is structurally sound -- someone could buy and restore it and create another center inn or, perhaps, a colonial restaurant. About 10 years ago James D'Orsi transformed that eyesore of a gas station at the corner of Woburn St. and Fletcher Avenue. Most remember that boarded up, weed-ridden, run-down brick disaster. After successfully maneuvering through town boards and committees, he turned it into the Gingerbread Construction Company (now Dunkin Donuts). It's hard to destroy historic buildings -- especially here. However, we're looking at new schools costs and we need a new fire and police station. Our budget can only stretch so many ways. It's a shame, but we've left this building unattended for so many years it may be past redemption. Even when it served as the School Administration building and it had a few overhauls. None addressed the sloping floors, cracked walls and other age-related problems. Perhaps we should or could ask the Lexington Historical Society how best to restore and keep the house. Buckman and Munroe taverns and the Hancock-Clarke Parsonage are pristine examples of what is done here.
Myra Marshall December 18, 2011 at 01:52 PM
Save any historic, museum worthy pieces, demolish the rest, use the land to celebrate the 300th anniversary and then build a decent senior center. More disgraceful than an aging building in disrepair in the center of town, is the lack of respect we show for our senior population by spending on absolutely everyone else's needs but theirs! Put up a senior/multi-use center using 21st century universal design concepts that make it accessible to everyone, yet aesthetically in keeping with Lexington's historic look. What a wonderful way to visually say that Lexington welcomes everyone - at the entry point to our town center!
Josey Mac December 19, 2011 at 02:26 AM
The town is losing (has lost) it's historic aesthetic. The building of a new McMansion behind 1377 Mass Ave destroyed the setting of the beautiful old 1795 home. Lexington zoning is in the developer's pocket, and no one is outraged to see our town losing it's historic value.
Beth December 21, 2011 at 04:44 AM
I am not sure if White House can be saved at this point, but the town is about to loose its Historic Farm. Busa Farm should be be saved from development.
mara bohn December 21, 2011 at 02:23 PM
Why wasn't it saved years ago so let's trash it....Renovating it will cost a fortune and build something that will house a year round farmers market. It would be great for Lexington in many respects. In the summer it could move into the field and it would help make the town prosper.........The town neglects neglects aging properties and then spends a fortune to renovate them time and time again. Sound familiar?

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