An Open Letter to President Linda Shyavitz and the Sturdy Memorial Hospital Board of Directors
I find it hard to accept the demolition of Tappan House until all possible alternatives have been exhausted. Once lost, this tangible link to local history, creativity, and craftsmanship can never be regained. While I appreciate all the good faith effort, expense, and commitment demonstrated by all parties in trying to move the building, I was never a fan of this option. Sturdy Memorial Hospital should let the Tappan House stand where it is, allow a preservation restriction to be placed on the structure, and then put it up for sale or lease for $1 to the most qualified applicant.
The only problem with the present site is that Sturdy has excavated a corner of the lot and put in a retaining wall to make a driveway for the emergency room. Sturdy should never have compromised the architectural integrity of the Tappan House by encroaching on the original houselot on which the house was built. I don't know exactly when this unfortunate action was taken, but I dare say it was at a time when the historic value of the property should have been recognized and respected as a community asset.
Sturdy should turn its expansion plans in another direction, and pledge to eventually restore the Tappan House lot to its original dimensions and contours.
Norman Morrison Isham, who, with partner Benjamin Wright, designed the Tappan House in 1901, was himself a preservationist. He was an authority on early American architecture and worked on the restoration of many historic buildings in Rhode Island and throughout New England. Isham's original plans for the Tappan House, hand-drawn in ink on vellum, still exist and are remarkable works of art in their own right. They can be viewed at the Rhode Island Historical Society in Providence.
Isham must be turning over in his grave at the news of this impending threat to one of his creations.
President Shyavitz, in your hometown of Newton the residents have the benefit of a 1-year demolition delay ordinance. I respectfully request that you allow the same opportunity for historic preservation to succeed here in Attleboro.