The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 6, 2006

News

Hiltons offer CR on four acres near town center

Over four acres of former farmland, containing a meadow and two dwellings that are steeped in Carlisle history, will be protected, thanks to Bob and Peggy Hilton. Almost 100 % of the property is located within the town's Historic District and helps to sustain its 18th-century heritage.

The Hiltons' main farmhouse stands by Lowell Street. (Photo by Lois d'Annunzio)
The welcome news was conveyed at the September 28 meeting of the Conservation Commission, where Ken Harte and David Kelch of the Conservation Restriction Advisory Committee (CRAC) presented a Conservation Restriction (CR) application filed by the Hiltons. The CR covers their early 18th-century home at 70 Lowell Street, the antique Cape-style cottage next door and a maple sugar operation. (See photos on page 6.)

In presenting the CR, which will be held and monitored by the Carlisle Conservation Foundation, Harte explained that the document specifically prohibits "doing anything that would disturb the present values within the Historic District designation." Even if that designation were to disappear, the values would still have to be preserved. The text does allow maintenance and rebuilding of a shed, but only within a footprint of 400 square feet.

There is a permit for sugaring, but future owners will not be required to continue that activity. As for the meadow, Harte noted that the late Carlisle dairy farmer and long-time Town Assessor Guy Clark had once termed it "the best meadowland in the Town Center."
The Blood cottage stands in back. It was moved to the property years ago from the corner of Stearns Street and Bedford Road. (Photo by Lois d'Annunzio)


The Hiltons purchased the larger "farmhouse" from the estate of Benjamin Blaisdell's widow Maud in 1968. The farm had at one time included what is now Blaisdell Drive and up to the present East Street site of Saint Irene Church. The family was engaged in farming and shoemaking, and by 1920 possessed one of the largest dairies and highest tax bills in town. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed its windmill and large barn during World War II, and Benjamin's subsequent death presaged a slow decline.

When the Hiltons bought the farmhouse and began a careful restoration, the property contained the largest meadow in the center, a stand of sugar maples, a sugar house and "an authentic outhouse," all of which have been retained. The Hiltons have continued the maple sugaring tradition and encouraged willing participation by friends and neighbors.

In 1997 the couple purchased the adjacent lot at what is now 82 Lowell Street, and two years later, when offered the chance to buy the Green-Blood house at the corner of Bedford Road and Stearns Street, they moved that 1799 cottage to their available lot. Moving day attracted a large and involved crowd of all ages that held its collective breath as the truck and trailer with its precious cargo inched down Bedford Road to a new home.

The Greens and Bloods had been prominent early families. Amos Green, who was a Minuteman when Carlisle was still a part of Concord, married Elizabeth Blood in 1799. Noting that many small houses on Stearns Street have since been demolished, the Hiltons' application surmises that had they not moved the cottage to the center, "where it has been positioned to enhance the Historic District," their second lot would probably now have a large new house, totally out of scale with the neighborhood. To quote the CR documentation: "With the Green-Blood house and land, as with the Blaisdell house and land, our goal has been preservation as well as conservation. With the protection of the Historic District and of the Carlisle Conservation Foundation, we hope that these complementary interests can be maintained in the future."

In order to put the final seal of approval on the Hilton offer, the commission must perform a formal site visit, declare the CR to be "in the best interests of the town," and forward the document to the Board of Selectmen for their signatures. No problems are foreseen.

The meadow is bordered by old sugar maples. In winter the Hiltons harvest sap in buckets hung from the trees in order to make maple syrup. (Photo by Bob Hilton)

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito