Developers Seek To Turn Historic Norwood Estate Into Condos


NORWOOD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A self-professed "Norwoodite" who holds the town's past dear is hoping developers who want to turn a historic mansion into condos don't get their way.

The Winslow Allen estate on Walpole Street has been referred to as "Oak View," "The Governor's Mansion," or the "Doll House" because of the Dollhouse Museum inside—all completely acceptable names for the place, Norwood Historic Commission Chair Judith Howard said.

The historic home is a relic from the turn of last century, finished in 1873. Now, the Norwood Planning Board is considering a redevelopment plan for the mansion.

A special amendment would have to be granted so the current owners could sell to builders, who would then turn the estate into condos.

Howard is firmly entrenched in the preservation camp.

"It should not be razed, and it should not be converted," she told WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama. "We already have enough of development here in Norwood."

That's why she wants to get as many people to Monday's planning meeting as possible.

"I believe if enough abutters oppose it, then maybe the planning board will not take a position on it and leave it up to Town Meeting members to take a vote."

Howard said the Winslow Allen estate tells a rich tale about the town and those who visited. She listed off the famous people who have stayed at the estate.

"Presidents Taft, Hoover, Garfield, as well as other notables," she said. "John Singer Sargent, whose beautiful paintings are in the Museum of Fine Arts, and Sergei Rachmaninoff, whose Concerto No. 2 is played by symphonies all over the world."

It was also home to Massachusetts Gov. Frank Allen at one point.

When it comes down to it, Howard just loves Norwood and its people, and wants the site to remain—for them.

"The people here are fabulous," Howard said. "The people and the buildings belong together."

WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports

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