Friday, August 28, 2009
Preserving a small house
In December of 2004, the late Carlisle Mosquito Feature Editor Ellen Miller wrote an editorial entitled “This small house.” Miller was referring to Ole Nelson’s little 60-year-old Cape on Russell Street, which had been taken down by a developer with plans to build two new houses on the property. This came as a shock to the neighbors, who observed another piece of old Carlisle vanishing.
Now, almost five years later, I have a different story to tell. If you should be heading down Concord Street, not far from the center of town, take a look at the small Cape located on the right side of the road across from the Clark Farm. Since June, there has been a flurry of activity as architect Geoff Freeman, with help from his team of contractor Frank Proctor and painter Kevin Rose, restores the 60-year-old house where Sally Hayen lived from 1967 until the spring of 2009. This is the house where from 1976 to 2000 many Carlisle families took their young children for home daycare, and where Hayen raised her three daughters, Jennifer, Lisa and Julie.
Although the house was never on the open market, Hayen had spoken to several builders who voiced concern about the amount of money that would be needed to restore the property. It wasn’t until after Hayen had told her friend Marge Findlay about her plans to sell the house, that she heard back that Geoff Freeman, Findlay’s husband, might be interested in buying the property. He was planning to retire, wanted a new project, loved Hayen’s house and felt her style of house should not be torn down or enlarged, but restored for resale. “He felt my seven-room Cape, [with three bedrooms and one-and-a-half baths] was worth keeping, and so he purchased it,” said Hayen, joyously.
Freeman was transitioning to a consulting role after 35 years as an architect working on large institutional projects. “I heard that the house was up for sale. I saw it as a gateway to what Carlisle is about,” said Freeman. “The scale and the quality of the house, I had always liked. It had good bones, as did houses built in the 30s,” he added.
Interestingly, the original architect of the house was Edwin R. Clark of Chelmsford, the same man who in 1908 designed the Highland School, and in 1912 designed an addition to the Carlisle Congregational Church at the corner of School and Church Streets. “I have the original drawings of Sally’s house. They are small scale, wonderful and well thought out,” Freeman was pleased to report. “Houses like this were part of the character of the town. They were built to a scale which was rural and at the time was what attracted you to Carlisle,” he added.
Freeman and his team have had the time and what he calls a wonderful opportunity to give Sally’s house and the site another life. “The three of us are having fun doing it. Sally was a big part of our town. We started in June, while doing other things as well, and plan to put it on the market in early spring of 2010,” explained Freeman. “We are trying to keep the small house affordable. It is a house that is within walking distance of the school and has a beautiful view out back.”
Sally Hayen, who now is living on Skelton Road, passes by her former house once or twice a week and is able to watch as the construction progresses. She will eventually see the finished product and, speaking of Freeman, says she has made a new friend. “He is a delightful person to know,” said Hayen. “He has had great enthusiasm and excitement in redoing my house.” Now instead of another tear-down, Carlisle will have a restored vintage Cape.
Ordinarily I read the Mosquito’s Police Blotter with a mixture of quiet amusement over the trivial matters that make up a Carlisle policeman’s day, admiration for the tolerance of police officers dealing with these matters, and satisfaction that more serious matters seldom crop up. But the accounts in the last Mosquito were nothing short of electrifying.
Kathy Coyle’s detailed account, even including a map of Carlisle with each relevant site indicated, of the chase and eventual arrest of two burglars caught in the act by the homeowner was brilliant. Another story by the same author described a resident at Malcolm Meadows shot in the stomach and unable to call for help until police, making a well-being check after 27 hours, found him and took him to a hospital. The police, it said, were unsure whether the injury was the result of attempted homicide, attempted suicide, or a gun-cleaning accident as the injured man claimed.
A closer reading of the Police Blotter reveals several other events that seem to deserve more explanation. For instance, on July 28 police attempted unsuccessfully to serve a summons at 9:09 a.m. but succeeded by coming back at 5:23 pm. One wonders what happened in the interval. Were the police hiding in the bushes ready to pounce when the besieged resident put his head out, or did they just miss him in the morning because he had gone to work and then catch him when he returned? On August 7 police were called about a deceased snake on East Riding Drive but had a “negative find.” The next morning, however, the snake somehow made itself known and was subjected to a positive find and moved. I would urge Ms. Coyle to expand on such items in the future.
But going back to the story of the apprehended burglars, I think it shows a remarkably effective police force. The first call from the homeowner came at 11:36 and just 17 minutes later the burglar who had fled the scene in a van was apprehended. Furthermore, police, from both Carlisle and adjacent towns, had managed to cover all main routes out of Carlisle so that catching the van was virtually certain. The second burglar, who had fled on foot, was apprehended within an hour, having been pursued by officers and a police dog. These burglars never had a chance.
Yet another article by Ms. Coyle observes that housebreaks are up this summer, citing three in the last month or so. At a guess the usual rate is about one a month. Towns like Carlisle, where houses are widely separated, are more vulnerable to burglary than towns where more people are around, and there is perhaps more motivation to steal in difficult economic times. It is remarkable that we do not have more thefts, and the reason is that we have a quietly competent police force. So hats off to Chief John Sullivan and his fellow officers for many jobs well done.
© 2009 The