Last week, this website ran a "?" column that generated some great comments and ideas about small businesses that could potentially go into the spot once occupied by Karen's Bakery.
This week, I'm going to take things in a somewhat different direction, with an eye on another Lynnfield property that has been in a couple of local media outlets in recent weeks - The Danforth House. But first, the whole thing is going to require a little bit of background information dating back several centuries.
To a number of town residents, the Danforth House is otherwise known as that big red abandoned structure right next to the . During a visit this week to the town's History House, I learned just how significant this place is to the history of Lynnfield.
Historical Society and Historical Commission Chair Nan Hockenbury reports that the Danforth House is a First Period structure, with an original portion that dates back to 1692 and other parts added later. A sign remaining on the house states that it was built by Nathaniel Bancroft, captain of the Lynn End Minute Men, in 1744. Bancroft joined fellow Lynnfielder Daniel Townsend at the battle of Menotomy in Arlington, which was basically an extension of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, which formally started the Revolutionary War on April 18, 1775. At some point early in the war, muskets were also hidden in the upper level of the Old Meeting House, less than a 10 minute walk from the house. Last Patriot's Day, the talked a bit about Townsend and also featured some videos taken in Lexington of the Patriot's Day re-enactors.
Hockenbury reported that the Danforth House stayed in that family until 1928 - with an added interesting detail being that all of the Danforth men were named John.
In 1953, the building became a nursing home and a few decades later, fell into disuse and eventually, a growing level of disrepair. The structure was recently boarded up to try to prevent additional damage from the elements, and there is apparently some roof damage as well.
Given the red "X" signs that adorn the building (meaning the firefighters are not supposed to enter the building if it catches on fire - not that it's outright condemned), one could reasonably speculate that the historic home's days are winding down rapidly. However, members of the Historical Commission maintain that the structure can indeed be saved and eventually given new life of some sort - although at town hall the feeling may be more that the property is too far gone - especially given the number of small rooms it contains left over from the nursing home days. After all, those small rooms would also undermine the concept a couple of this website's readers have offered in past months about putting a youth center in there.
A restoration effort of this scope would generally depend on federal grants, and government preservation guidelines apparently place certain limits on the kind of commercial enterprises that could go in afterward. The historic structure is also located on town land. So in other words, nobody is going in there just to set up a coffee shop or anything along those lines.
During my conversation with Hockenbury, two ideas that came up for the Danforth House were a restaurant and a bed and breakfast . Personally, I think that either one of those ideas sound like a great addition to that part of town. But either way, I'm more interested in asking you, the people of Lynnfield - what would you like to see done with this property? Share your opinion in the poll or in the comments section below!
Also, if you are interested in getting involved with the Lynnfield Historical Commission as a volunteer or in some other capacity, email firstname.lastname@example.org.