The Swampscott Historical Commission and Habitat for Humanity are seeking to save the home at 35 Pitman Road from being demolished. (Spenser Hasak) ©Item Live

January 16, 2023 – Item Live

SWAMPSCOTT — The Historical Commission (HC), in partnership with Essex County Habitat for Humanity, is working to preserve a historic home at 35 Pitman Road which is lined up for demolition for the Elm Place project. The two groups are working with the Affordable Housing Trust to create “new affordable homeownership opportunities in town” with the “Pitman House,” Meegan O’Neil, executive director at Essex County Habitat for Humanity, said.

The development for which the “Pitman House” will be torn down is Elm Place. It is an affordable housing project from Winn Development that has recently been funded.

The “Pitman House” was owned by Samuel Cloon Pitman, a founding selectman of Swampscott and the first town moderator. The house dates back to when Swampscott separated from Lynn in 1852, Nancy Schultz, chair of the HC, said.

According to Historical Commission minutes from a meeting on Oct. 18, 2021 where they discussed the historical significance of the house, it “dates from 1800 with a mid-19th c. addition.” The house has “framing in basement of a style typical from 1775-1825,” the minutes siad.

“House details comport with deed information—one of the few houses from this early period extant in Swampscott today,” the minutes said.

At an Affordable Housing Trust (AHT) meeting on Jan. 9, O’Neil and Schultz presented their plans to the AHT.

“The idea would be to locate at least the oldest part of the house and build out and make it into possibly four to six units,” Schultz said at the meeting.

O’Neil and the construction director at Essex County Habitat for Humanity have done an initial walkthrough of one part of the house that would be renovated, O’Neil told the AHT.

“Last week we confirmed the development team, so we have PCA architects, TEC engineering, and surveyors all in place and ready to begin work on this,” O’Neil said at the meeting.

The “clock is ticking” on the efforts to preserve the house, Schultz said.

“We are trying to acquire a lot to which we could move the house, part of the house, and we would like to renovate it as affordable housing,” Schultz said. “We are quite interested in this combination of historic preservation and solving other problems such as Swampscott affordable housing issues.”

This would be the first build in Swampscott for Essex County Habitat for Humanity, O’Neil said.

“We see the significant need for working families in town to be able to afford to live in the community. This concept would present a creative opportunity to achieve Habitat’s goal of affordable homeownership, with the Historic Commission’s goal of preserving meaningful history in the town,” O’Neil said.