LACONIA — Efforts to save a 150-year-old house in the heart of Weirs Beach have fallen flat, and the building will likely be demolished later this year, according to the city.
Late last year the building’s owner, 76 Lakeside LLC, applied for a permit to demolish the building. The city’s Heritage Commission pleaded for the building to be saved, citing its historical, and architectural significance.
The owners, who bought the house in 2016, say they have been unable to rent it out for most of that time and that it would cost too much to make the kinds of improvements needed to make the dwelling more marketable as a residence. They have said their plan is to construct a commercial building on the site, but not any time soon.
When the Heritage Commission pressed for the building’s preservation, the owners offered to give the building away to anyone who would move it off the lot, and moreover pledged to contribute $10,000 toward the moving cost.
City Councilor Mark Haynes, who serves on the Heritage Commission, told the council Monday that the cost to move the building would be about $100,000.
City Planning Director Dean Trefethen noted that $100,000 would cover just the cost of moving the house off the Lakeside Avenue property.
“It doesn’t cover the cost to prepare wherever you are taking it to,” Trefethen said Wednesday. There would be additional costs involved in excavating and a putting a foundation at the new site, he explained. “The total cost would be well over $200,000,” he said.
In mid-January the City Council authorized a 60-day extension, which put the demolition permit on hold in hopes that a solution for saving the house could be found.
That extension expired a month ago, and now the city has no choice but to issue the demolition permit.
However, Trefethen said the permit cannot be approved until the owner provides the city with a report specifying whether there is any asbestos or lead paint present in the building and, if there is, how those hazardous materials will be removed prior to demolition.
Trefethen said he had not received that information from the owner as of Wednesday.
So now, barring someone emerging at the last minute with an offer to rescue the building from the wrecking ball, the house will be torn down in the coming months, Trefethen said.
He said it is his understanding that the owners do not plan to tear the building down before the latter part of the summer at the earliest.