Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 11-07-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | NOVEMBER 7-13, 2019 CUMBERLAND 15 The house itself was torn down on Monday, and the rubble of an adjoin- ing barn shed was being taken away Tuesday. Attempts to locate the owner of the property, listed as 140 Abbott Run Valley Road LLC, were unsuc- cessful. Mayor Jeff Mutter said town offi- cials have been working with Johnson since the summer when the Henry A. Bishop House on Nate Whipple Highway was demolished to try to draft an ordinance that might add a layer of protection for the town's older homes. They've been looking at Pawtucket, where the Historic District Commission previously instituted a six-month demolition delay for the Hose Company No. 6, a former res- taurant and firehouse. The commis- sion was able to do that back in 2017 because of a city ordinance requiring that the city not issue a demolition permit unless the commission noti- fies officials before the end of six months that the applicant seeking the demolition has made a reasonable but unsuccessful effort to locate a buyer for the building or structure, or one who is willing to preserve, rehabilitate or restore the building or structure, or has agreed to accept a demolition per- mit on specified conditions. According to Mudge, the demolition permit for the Hawkins House was issued last year. Johnson also spoke up in April prior to the demolition of a Victorian-era barn on Diamond Hill Road, a build- ing tied to one of the oldest families in Cumberland, the Carpenters. It was removed to make way for a new medical building. Historically, a roadblock in the way of creating historic districts in Cumberland has been the fact that all residents have to agree to be part of it, and many don't want to be tied to the restrictions that come with home improvements, say local officials. Homeowners can petition indi- vidually to have their homes deemed historic. Former Mayor Bill Murray this week recalled creating a zon- ing overlay back in 2016 for a single home on Nate Whipple Highway, the 1720 Colonial Cottage. The town worked with the owner of that home, also known as the Walcott House, to create a special designation where the Cumberland Historic District Commission would have to approve any exterior changes. The crux of the issue here is that there's no protection for homes not in a historic district, said Mutter this week. He said he's not yet sure wheth- er the town will need enabling legisla- tion from the General Assembly. "We don't have anything like that on the books," he said. "At this point we don't have a mechanism to do anything unless it's in a historic dis- trict." An ordinance such as Pawtucket's, though it eventually failed to save the Hose Company No. 6 as it was demol- ished last month, at least gives some time to explore other options with the property owner, said the mayor. "We have definitely been looking into it," he said. Johnson said this week that he's struggling mightily at the thought of all the old buildings being "sense- lessly" torn down of late. The Hawkins House was attributed to the Hawkins family, which had a number of water-powered operations on the nearby Abbott Run. It could have been mill worker housing, hav- ing the unique setup of two back-to- back cooking fireplaces with beehive ovens, said Johnson. The house was quite structurally sound at the time of his inspection a few years ago, said the historian. It had solid oak timber construction and a very good dry stone foundation. "One of the most solid cellars I had ever seen for a 200-year-old building," he said. According to plot maps, the house and lot were quite obviously once part of the Franklin Farm property, he said, and could very well have been occupied by those employed with farm operation. Previous requests to the Cumberland Historic District Commission for consideration of the property as part of the Franklin Farm historic landscape have received no response and no action, he said. HOUSE From Page One The 1800 HAWKINS HOUSE on Abbott Valley Run Road in Cumberland, shown here, has been demolished. Crews clear the last of what was a shed next to the HAWKINS HOUSE Tuesday. Below, all that remains at 140 Abbott Run Valley Road is a vacant lot. 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