To preserve and protect

The proposal by Blake Development Corporation to demolish 415 West Moreland Ave is a serious breach of the implicit, unwritten agreement we all live by in this National Historic District: that is, we will preserve the fine historic properties we’ve inherited if at all possible, rather than break up large parcels of land into sub-divisions with new construction. Yes, it costs more to preserve an older building. Yes, owners and developers forego a lot of money when they chose not to build out their lots to the maximum extent allowed by zoning laws. But we choose to live in Chestnut Hill anyway because it’s an unusually beautiful place, and this is what we have to do to keep it so.

When my wife and I bought our 1890 Houston/Hewitt twin several years ago, as the former owner turned over the key he commented “You know, we don’t really own these properties – we just hold them in trust for the next generation.” He was absolutely correct.

Many people in the St. Martins neighborhood would simply like to clean up this distressed and neglected property as soon as possible. I’m sympathetic, but I cannot countenance the demolition of a fine Colonial Revival house (and a separate carriage house) by a highly-regarded American architect when it is not necessary, particularly when the developer plans to further damage the fine Moreland neighborhood by sub-dividing the 1-acre lot. This sets an ominous precedent which jeopardizes numerous iconic properties in Chestnut Hill!

Sam Blake is a well-regarded local developer who has made a success of upgrading and re-purposing Chestnut Hill buildings while respecting their historic features and design. I have urged him to re-consider his initial plan. In the long run, preservation builds higher real estate values for all of us.

Frank Niepold

Chestnut Hill


Tired of looking for parking

Just wanted to say that about half the time I want to shop in Chestnut Hill, I end up driving on to my home in Roxborough as I cannot find any place to park between Gravers and Evergreen. I would like to use Kilians, Weavers Way, and other places, too, but am not willing to keep driving around the block, and through parking lots.

Susan R. MacBride


  • Guest

    Perhaps Mr. Niepold can solve the problem for everyone by buying the house from Mr. Blake. Until such a transaction takes place, perhaps Mr. Niepold can stop telling other people how to spend their money.

  • Guest

    “… implicit, unwritten agreement…”

    In other words, it exists only in the minds of a few self-imagined patricians.

  • Mike

    Mr. Blake has done a great job of restoring old properties around CH and has built up a lot of credibility as far as I’m concerned – I’m inclined to take him at his word if he says its not possible to restore the house – not that it’s really any of my business since its not my house. As the earlier commenter already said, if Mr. Niepold is so opposed, he should put his money where his mouth is and buy the house from Mr. Blake and do a full rehab himself…you know, in the spirit of that ‘implicit, unwritten agreement’ that’s apparently in-place. I think if more folks like Mr. Blake were active around here, it would be a huge net positive for CH’s housing stock.