Members of Historical Good, top row, from left: Kayleigh Travins, Margo Boland, Maggie Shoemaker, and Sophia Brady; bottom row: Bridget Brady. Not pictured: Jen Fox, who was away at camp.
For a group of teenagers in Southborough, Massachusetts, summer vacation came with a mission: saving a 167-year-old mansion.
Known as the Burnett/Garfield House, the Second Empire-style stone structure at 84 Main Street was built c. 1847 as the home of businessman Joseph Burnett and his wife, Josephine. Burnett, an active town leader, created the first liquid vanilla extract commercially produced and sold in the United States.
When it was reported earlier this summer that the mansion’s current owner was considering selling it to a developer who would seek demolition, a group led by local teenagers Bridget Brady, 14, and Jen Fox, 15, rallied to save the 2 ½-story structure, which requires sizable repairs.
“Everything else is fixable,” Brady says, “but demolition isn’t.”
Late last month, in the wake of the group’s protests, the current owner decided not to move forward on the sale. The story isn’t over, though. A full renovation is estimated to cost upwards of $1.5 million.
But given the outpouring of local support to save the house, led in large part by this group of teenagers, the future of the house looks significantly brighter.
We spoke with Bridget Brady, who’s starting her freshman year of high school this fall, about the history of the Burnett/Garfield House and why she felt compelled to save it.... Read More →
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Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.