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Residents Ask Sturdy Hospital to Have a Heart

Attleboro resident Charlie Adler shares his thoughts about the demolition of the Tappan House.

An Open Letter to President Linda Shyavitz and the Sturdy Memorial Hospital Board of Directors

I find it hard to accept the 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. 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.

Joette October 13, 2011 at 06:46 PM
it would be such a waste to demolish this beautiful piece of history, Sturdy Memorial should concider it being used as a shelter or low income rooming housing. Anything but what is planned
Ellen October 13, 2011 at 08:29 PM
Charlie, I 100% agree with you. These were the positions that we took six years ago. It would have been optimal to leave the house at its curent location on the hill, and incorporate the renovations around the building. Sturdy needs to rethink its concept of sprawl as opposed to going up is flawed. I think there are other possibilities but we are out of time.
Charlie Adler October 13, 2011 at 09:34 PM
I will be holding a sign in front of the Tappan House tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 14) from 10:00 to 11:00 am, rain or shine. I would welcome company from anyone else who would like to join me.
yerkillinme October 14, 2011 at 11:21 AM
Buh bye...
Sailor October 14, 2011 at 12:38 PM
Bravo Susan Blais. Very well said.
AttleboroBoy October 14, 2011 at 01:41 PM
The city should take the house and land by eminent domain. They take other things they want this way. Look at all the useless Ides Hill land they took to build the industrial Park. At lease the house has some value and it's a historic peice of Attleboro for the future to enjoy. The city peeps needs to grow a set and start kicking butt.
Jacob October 14, 2011 at 01:52 PM
Mr Adler, you practice what you preach and I respect that!
Kim Ward Storch October 14, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Once a piece of history is destroyed you can't get it back. How will we teach our kids the value of the past when history is allowed to be destroyed?
sue Blackwell October 14, 2011 at 08:25 PM
I truely wish there were some way to save this lovely home. I understand that Sturdy needs more parking space, which would, of course be so much lovlier to see. If I had the money, I would buy it back. My grandmother sold it for a song to Sturdy in good faith that they would use it appropriately. I never saw the specifics of the deal, but Sturdy made out. I have so many wonderful memories connected with the house and my family. We used to yell at each other down the laundry shutes and play hide and seek throughout the house. Many holiday meals and family gatherings are remembered as well. My mother, Jackie, who is now 95 years old, was married in the foyer and descended down the beautiful staircase that day..the day before Pearl Harbor. I am hesitant to inform her of this development. It is breaking MY heart, never mind hers. Thank you to everyone who has championed this cause. I hope it can be delayed again somehow. One more statement. The last time I was in the house, I felt that the inside had been destroyed by hacking it up and making 2_3 rooms out of one. I wonder if it ever could be restored inside. If so, we have pictures.
Susan Blais October 14, 2011 at 11:45 PM
Carol ... What a negative comment to make. For months and months, Marian Wrightington, Charlie Adler, Mayor Dumas and MANY MANY others have tried to come up with solutions. Hundreds of volunteer hours were put into the LARGE puzzle of how to move a building of this size to a nearby parcel of land. The City is NOT in the business to own a house like this as the renovations and upkeep would be excruciating expensive. Hence, the City of Attleboro and others looked for a solution which would have including having the home moved at a great expense to a nearby parcel of land purchased from a local business. But the problem with this is that not one business or individual put a bid in to own this building after the move. For the starting bid of $250,000 (approx cost of the land, site prep and foundation) - anyone including you Carol, could have bid to own this beautiful home on a new foundation and a large piece of land. When no person or business bid, the City of Attleboro and others still tried to look into other alternatives. But in the 11'th hour the business that was going to sell the land for the move, decided against it. Yes, this is a very sad situation, but I look around and see many people who tried hard to make this work, but in the end in this economy there is still missing a piece of the puzzle. The city can't be the long term owner and no one has stepped forward with money to say they want the home and would move it.

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