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Houses for sale $1 each; The catch? They must be moved.

Byline: Debbie LaPlaca

DUDLEY - Two houses representing Dudley's historic heritage are being offered free, well almost free, to a good home. But time is running out. A one-year demolition delay, invoked by the Dudley Historical Commission, is set to expire in November.

The commission is reaching out with the hope that publicity, especially within preservation circles, will bring a buyer for the historic homes that are selling for $1 each to anyone interested in relocating them.

"If anything, it may bring forward someone with a deep pocket and interest in saving the structure," member Edward B. Bazinet said of the commission's work to find new homes for the old houses.

One of the longest-standing houses in town, a two-story Colonial at 69 Dudley-Oxford Road, is known for its most noteworthy resident Rev. Abiel "Priest" Williams, who was a minister in town for 32 years.

The circa 1780s structure "was once one of the most magnificent dwellings in Federalist era Dudley," the Historical Commission reported after a site inspection.

The sprawling farmhouse, partially hidden from the road by a fence, sits across from the driveway to Shepherd Hill Regional High School.

Mr. Bazinet said it has been vacant and in disrepair for nearly a decade.

Oxford residents Cecylia Forance and Pawel Orzechowski purchased the Priest Williams House last October for $40,000.

The lack of care by the former owner, Ms. Forance said, rendered the home uninhabitable.

"The location I love, so I decided to buy it, but there was a lot of trash inside," she said.

Their plan to raze it and build anew hit a temporary snag with the Historical Commission's decision to stay its demise.

Minutes from the commission's November meeting with Ms. Forance describe the 3,446-square-foot building as having large rooms and sturdy floors.

"The dry stone foundation of fieldstone and granite is of the most impressive quality yet encountered by members of this Commission in any Dudley residence visited by them. One is struck with admiration for the unknown carpenters and masons who collaborated to erect this structure in the late eighteenth century," the minutes read.

"We would like to see someone buy the house for $1 and take it off the property," Ms. Forance said, noting that when the demolition delay expires, she plans to raze the house.

A short distance up the road, on the Nichols College Campus, stands a weathered two-story colonial at 132 Center Road.

Brian McCoy, Nichols Vice President for Student Affairs, said the circa 1860s house was used by the college as a residence for faculty and staff.

The latest staff member to live there was 21-year library assistant Jean Lonergan, who occupied the house during her employment and continued to reside there after retiring in 1981.

What is known on campus as the Gray House has been vacant since her death in June 2006.

The college, Mr. McCoy said, will sell the house for $1 and provide up to $15,000 to assist the buyer with expenses for its relocation.

"We would like to give the house to someone who will invest the time and energy needed for its renovation and preservation," he said.

Two interested parties have examined the 1,583-square-foot structure that sits near the road but no offers have been received.

The Historical Commission has protected the two houses with the town's demolition delay bylaw until November.


CUTLINE: (1) Ed Bassinet, front, David G. Butler, left rear, and Joe Antos stand near the Priest Williams House at Dudley-Oxford Road. The historic house is hoping for a buyer and a new home before a demolition delay expires in November. (2) The Gray House on the Nichols College campus must also be purchased and moved, or it will be demolished.

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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 1, 2010
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