Preservation is easy when it’s not your money

While I have always admired the Chestnut Hill Historical Society’s mission to preserve the architectural character and open spaces of Chestnut Hill, I would like to address what I see as unfairness being directed at Blake Development. Over the years Blake Development has redeveloped many eyesores in our surrounding area and, in the case of 415 West Moreland Ave., Blake Development has been aboveboard in its intentions and has operated with the kind of transparency uncommon in most business dealings.

I grew up across the street from 415 West Moreland Ave. and witnessed, for decades, its overgrown yard, spray painted logs, and other bizarre items littered in the front, as well as heard neighbors grumbling about this state of affairs. As far as I know, there were no ideas, interventions or activities to help preserve this obviously deteriorating property.

The expectation that someone with deep pockets will appear to rehab every neglected important architectural house in Chestnut Hill is not a reality.

The sale of 415 W. Moreland was a private transaction by, most likely, a seller who wanted to sell quickly. The community of Chestnut Hill has made this private transaction into a public forum where many people with no financial stake in the matter appear to be standing on soap boxes, some tossing out words like character and greed about a development company that has, many times in the past, taken substantial financial risks that continue to benefit our community.

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.

Richard F. Smith Jr.



What’s an architectural analyst?

With regard to the July 3 article concerning the status of 415 West Moreland Ave., I note that the CHHS toured the property with an “architectural analyst.” After 35 years in the architectural profession I don’t know what that term means; perhaps neither does Mr. Blake. Whatever the outcome, I would think the CHHS report would carry more weight if the society had consulted a licensed architect or engineer.

William F. O’Keefe, Jr., AIA

Chestnut Hill


Thanks for the support

Thank you for the last 24 years! Your support, appreciation, and love for the old-fashioned shoe store made my time as the owner of the Chestnut Hill Bootery wonderful! I cherish our conversations about our community, the care of our beloved Germantown Avenue, and the wonderful customers that have come through my doors. Thank you again. I look forward to seeing you on the Avenue!

Bruce Freedman and the rest of the staff at Chestnut Hill Bootery!


From . . .

On 415 West Moreland Ave.

Echoing many of the prior comments in response to this campaign, instead of telling Mr. Blake what to do with his property, perhaps the CHCA can find someone willing to buy either (1) the current property as-is from Mr. Blake at some negotiated price and then affect the full restoration themselves (perhaps commissioning Blake’s company to do the work), or (2) have Mr. Blake do a full rehab as prescribed by the CHCA and broker a sale to someone, with CHCA backstopping Mr. Blake’s originally-underwritten profit margin and finding someone to buy the finished house.

Either of these would at least be viewed as positive-minded ideas, but, as clearly evidenced by the fact that this house sat neglected for 15 years without any action or attempts by the CHCA to try and force a sale or restoration proactively, it’s pretty clear what’s going on here and why so many people have commented in favor of Blake: The CHCA or any of the other opponents aren’t willing to put up any money, risk, or effort into gaining the desired outcome, but rather seems content to try and tell others what to do with their money.

The same thing happened with Greylock, and that continues to rot away on CH Avenue. I’m all for restoring the house, but this is so typical of what gives our neighborhood a bad reputation and why it’ll ultimately just result in more large old mansions lost rather than restored. — CH