Main stairwell, 415 W. Moreland Ave.

Main stairwell, 415 W. Moreland Ave.

by Patricia Marion Cove

The Chestnut Hill Historical Society continues to be concerned regarding the planned demolition and subdivision of 415 West Moreland Ave. The unique, inherent qualities within this community include its open space and historic architecture, which were two of the most important elements that qualified Chestnut Hill in becoming a National Historic District in 1985, and continue to be major reasons why people choose to live here.

When the historical society learned of the developer’s plans, we reached out to him, and were offered the opportunity to tour the grounds and the home. Jennifer Hawk, executive director of the historical society, Patricia Cove, vice president for Preservation, and Matthew Millan, AIA, LEED AP®, and a member of the historical society’s board of directors, visited the property and were able to assess the grounds and buildings.

We came away from that visit heartened in that, although the grounds and home had not been maintained, the building was structurally sound, and upheld its designation as being historically and architecturally “Significant” within our National Historic Register. View a slide show of photos taken at

As word of this demolition and sub-division spread, an online petition was formed. To this date, the petition has gained over 800 signatures and comments, which reinforce the strong sentiments of not only people who live in this community, but people who reside in other communities, and have experienced the loss of older, historic homes that have been replaced by new development, with far less open space.

Among the comments of those who signed the petition were these:

“It is important that communities continue to grow and change, but this demolition would cause the irreparable loss of an important part of Chestnut Hill’s high quality built environment, which is the reason this community is such a great place to live.”

“Chestnut Hill has an irreplaceable collection of historic properties. The demolition of this significant building unravels the fabric of our community. Our historic buildings are what make us special – not new houses that can be found anywhere.”

“Historic buildings characterize and enhance Chestnut Hill. They add financial, aesthetic and cultural value. Their preservation is very important to maintaining and preserving for the future the special qualities of the Chestnut Hill National Historic District.”

“This is replacing a stately home on a large lot with two homes – this is not why I bought a home in Chestnut Hill. If I wanted large homes wedged on half acre lots I could have stayed in the suburbs.”

The Chestnut Hill Historical Society cannot ignore this concern. We will continue to reach out to the developer for the purpose of exploring alternatives to the current plan, to consider the possibility of a potential third party purchase, and to explore the benefits of a conservation easement, when and if combined, could not only salvage the developer’s initial investment, but would create an important precedent in the rehabilitation of the historic homes within our community and the preservation of the environment that makes Chestnut Hill a most desirable and sought after community in which to live.

* To sign the petition and read the comments, go to

Patricia Marion Cove is president of the Chestnut Hill Historical Society.

  • Not “Megan Dawson”

    Ms. Cove was kind enough to list comments left on the CHHS petition. Has she seen comments left on the Local’s website? Here are a few:

    “I support Sam Blake and look forward to seeing the new beautiful homes he will build to replace this tragic and abused property.”

    “Sam Blake does a great job with his renovations. The CHCA and CHHS should get off his back. Increasingly, these organizations are working against progress in the community and not for it.”

    “Mr. Blake refurbishes and builds houses that people buy. This provides an important function in the real estate market by regenerating the housing inventory. Please do not underestimate the importance of this function in the kind of vibrant community we all want.”

    “[The] CHCA has stuck to its typical outright opposition and mobilization of ‘near neighbors’ into a frenzy, which accomplishes nothing and does more harm than good in the longer-run by ‘poisoning the well’ of our relations with potential developers, prospective business owners looking to open a new store in CH, or anyone else thinking about moving here and that hurts everyone.”

    • Will

      Who are you?

  • Puzzled

    When did the Local become the mouthpiece for the CHHS? The recent coverage of that organization’s point of view regarding Mr. Blake’s property has been prodigious and non-stop. I understand that most of the coverage has fallen under “Opinion,” and I’m sure that the editor is happy to have content to fill his pages, regardless of its origin. But labeling this piece as “News” is dishonest.

    • Puzzled

      I see that it’s been re-tagged as “Opinion.” The coverage still seems out of control and one-sided, but the new label is at least a small step in the right direction.

    • PMazz


      The policy of the Local is to run all opinion pieces. That’s the tradition of this paper for more than 50 years. If someone has something to say, they can. We will not refuse a submitted oped sinply to strike balance.

      We would be happy to run letters and opeds by those who support Sam Blake. It would be nice if the many who support Blake here in the comments section would write a piece. They’d get equal space.

      • Puzzled

        Thank you for the clarification.