The old Boit Home at 5 Bennett Street, built between 1875 and 1881, has been acquired by a new owner. The building has been honored by listing on the National Register of Historic Places. A demolition request from David H. Barrett has been received by the Building Inspector.
The Historical Commission held Public Hearing on the matter on November 16th, 2016. According to the terms of Wakefield’s Demolition Delay Bylaw, the maximum six month delay was imposed upon the demolition of the structure.
Information on the building:
NATIONAL REGISTER CRITERIA STATEMENT
The E. Boit Home for Aged Women is notable as one of the largest
and most elaborate houses in-the Junction District featuring a
later porch that is the best example of the Queen Anne style in the neighborhood. Originally a private residence, the building has been used as a retirement home for women since 1894 and i s named after a Wakefield woman known for both business and charitable activities in the early 20th century. The building retains integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.
ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE Describe important architectural features and evaluate in terms of other buildings within the community.
This is one of the largest and most elaborate houses in the Junction District. However, it is not clear that it remains as it was built, for theBird’s Eye View of 1882 shows only a 2h story cross gabled element, rather than the current twin gabled peaks joined by
a two story element. This may explain the simplicity of the central door and verandah, which were probably added when the house was expanded. The Italianate paneled pilasters and arched gable field windows were carefully copied when the house was expanded.
This cross-gabled house is a variation of the simple gable end side-hall plan which became so popular i n Wakefield i n the Greek Revival period.Displaying the best example in the neighborhood of a decorative Queen Anne porch, i t features lathe turned posts and balusters, and jig-saw cut brackets, all machine powered.
This house may have been built for Marcus Simpson, who worked forthe Wakefield Rattan Co., possibly as an executive. I t was purchased in 1894 by the corporation of the Wakefield Home for Aged Women. This was a charitable group made up of Protestant citizens chosen by the churches from the town at large to administert he organization; itwas
probably this group which expanded the house as an old age home. In 1921 the name of the Home was changed to honor Miss Elizabeth Eaton Boit for her generosity to the institution. Miss Boit was a local resident and an active co-owner of the Harvard Knitting Mill on Foundry Street, an unusual job for a woman at that time. The institution was supported by private donations until 1944, when it became part of the Greater Boston Community Fund.
Bennett Street which appears on the map of 1857, was probably developed in response to the great influx of newcomers to town who were drawn by its rapid increase i n industry. Industrial development was made possible by the opening of the Boston and Maine Railroad i n 1844; raw materials could be cheaply imported from the port of Boston, and finished products as efficiently shipped to its markets. However, by 1874, only nine houses had been built on the street, of which this is one.