Launching a study of West Newton Hill's historical resources

After a public hearing on June 23rd, the Newton Historical Commission (NHC) approved a study, to take stock of WN Hill's historical resources. (To clear up some misunderstandings, the NHC was not voting to form a Local Historic District. Also the City was not being asked for taxpayer funding to pay for a study.)

We have over 25 volunteers assisting with this study and would welcome more.

The study will follow guidelines from the Mass. Historical Commission. It includes compiling a photo and descriptive inventory of buildings on WN Hill which we will do in collaboration with Historic Newton and the Jackson Homestead. The scope also includes the evolution of WN Hill historically as a community, and involves researching the people, architectural trends, and economic developments that created the streetscapes we see today. 

Volunteers can contribute in a variety of ways – even if you just have a few hours a week.Students seeking an internship are also welcome! Examples of tasks: field survey, archival work, photography, digital mapping, library research, writing, data collection and analysis, dropbox and admin management. Training will be provided, and a professional preservation consultant will provide guidance on the methodology.

Fill out the contact form if you would like to volunteer, noting your time availability, skills and interests. 

Many people have asked the important question about the link between preservation and property values. Some homebuyers are drawn to communities with renovated historic homes; other buyers give less priority to the look or architectural "fabric" of the neighborhood.  As we locate relevant studies, they are being added to the website under FAQ

Our community today --  aesthetically, financially and emotionally – is worth more than the sum of the parts. There are a range of views how best to assure that for the future. Let's continue that discussion, and ideas are welcome.

WN Square Planning Enhancements

UPDATE: All invited to review design concepts: Wednesday, September 28, 2016  6:30-8:00pm  First Unitarian Church, 1326 Washington St., West Newton.

The City is hosting a meeting at Second Church, 60 Highland St, on Thursday June 30th from 6:30 to 8 pm to get input from the community about a comprehensive planning exercise to enhance West Newton Square. See link below for more information. Many opportunities for community input and ideas.

Meeting of Newton Historical Commission June 23rd

The first step in the process of considering a potential Local Historic District for West Newton Hill, as specified by the Mass Historical Commission, is to establish a Study Committee.

Papers were filed today with the Newton Historical Commission to discuss at their meeting on Thursday, June 23rd at City Hall at 7 pm.

For background about the proposal -- including maps showing tentative boundaries, photos of representative houses, and supporting reports -- see Filing Documents

City Council approves non-transferability of demolition permits for historic homes

The Newton City Council approved by a slim margin on Monday April 4, 2016, the amendment to prevent transferabilty of demolition delay permits. This amendment had passed within the Zoning and Planning Committee and was supported by the Newton Historical Commission. Mayor Warren did not sign this legislation; this meant it had a 30 day period to become effective on May 4th.

Generally those looking for more steps to protect the historic character of certain neighborhoods in Newton support this measure, and developers looking to accelerate demolitions and new construction do not support this measure.

The main tool available to the Newton Historical Commission to prevent demolitions of historic homes is to have an 18-month delay if the structure is "preferably preserved." This amendment will mean that when a property is sold, the new owner needs to go through this application process and "restart the clock". This gives time for the new owner to consult with the historical commission and the neighbors which can lead to adapting the building rather than demolishing it.


Community Meeting May 1st

On Sunday May 1st at 4 pm, neighbors from West Newton Hill are invited to a community meeting at Second Church (entrance at 60 Highland Street) to learn more about what it means to be part of a Local Historic District, and to share perspectives and ask questions. Please walk if possible so that the limited parking can be available to those who need it most.

This is an exploratory meeting to help decide whether there is enough interest to proceed with a feasibility study which would include an photo inventory and description of the historic homes to be potentially included.

Some of our City Councilors will be joining us, as well as Professor Daniel Bluestone, who directs the Preservation Studies program at Boston University. Please RSVP through the contact form to help us plan for numbers and add any questions or comments.

Exploring preservation options for West Newton Hill

A group of residents met with Ward 3 Councilor Barbara Brousal-Glaser on February 23rd to discuss concerns about the pace of demolitions, and to understand options available to the community.

About 30 people attended an exploratory meeting held on March 13th at the Neighborhood Club, where neighbors voiced support for moving ahead with a feasibility study by a preservation consultant. Others noted that potentially being part of a Local Historic District could present some inconvenience to individual homeowners, and it will be important to be able to address those concerns. We aim to pool the questions to make it more efficient in getting clarification from the City.  There was some discussion of how to pay for the feasibility study, and we are looking for suggestions on that.

Further outreach and community meetings will be planned to reach more residents and to understand their views.

A Steering Committee is forming to explore this in more depth, and those who are interested in being involved are welcome, and should contact us through this website.