A contractor for local developer Gary Martell's CAD Builders this morning tore down the Greek-revival Keith House on Centre Street to make way for a 21-unit condo building - assuming the project is approved by the BPDA - just two days after ISD issue a demolition permit.
The house, which in its later years was a realty office and then just a mouldering hulk open to the elements, animals and curious people, was built in 1839 as a home for William Keith, who also used the house as a post office. Keith served more than 50 years as the postmaster for what started out as the more rural end of the town of Roxbury. Keith, who also sold groceries in addition to stamps, was also a stationmaster for the Boston & Providence Railroad.
Residents, led in part by Jim Hennigan, whose insurance office is next door, had fought Martell's proposal, saying the house in particular should be preserved, possibly as a community center, but that even the round little concrete pillbox that had been home to the former People's Federal Savings Bank, which Martell also plans to demolish, had some value as an example of early brutalist architecture.
Martell said fine - as long as the city gave him the municipal parking lot at Corey and Railroad streets in exchange so he could still put up his condos. The city did not.
On March 22, the Boston Landmarks Commission issued a 90-day stay on any demolition pending a review of the Keith House's historic merits. That ran out June 22.
ISD issued Martell's contractor a demolition permit around 2 p.m. on Tuesday and a crew showed up this morning with a backhoe and other equipment to take the house down.
On July 19, Boston Landmarks staff released a draft report urging the Keith House be designated a historic landmark.
Martell initially filed plans with the BPDA for condos on Feb. 8, 2021. The agency, which sat on plans for a proposed charter school on Belgrade Avenue at West Roxbury Parkway for more than two years in the face of major opposition from neighbors, has yet to make a determination on the Martell proposal.
Then (April photo by Boston Landmarks Commission, showing both house and bank building):