Architecture Crime

A new multifamily is under construction on School Street and its architect and its developer should be indicted for the crimes of infliction of ugliness, greed, and contempt. What an insult to the neighbors, not to mention their property values. Watertown has no design review requirement for building permits. Here is a strong argument for instituting one.

Watertown Open Space

The stretch of School Street between Mt. Auburn and Maplewood Street is lined with beautiful houses – Victorians, Colonials and other styles all built between 1790 and 1927. There have been three houses built since then. No. 286, a multifamily built in 1955; No. 281, a little brick ranch built in 1956; and No. 263 a nondescript Colonial built in 1965.

The building nearing completion next to #330-332 is by far the worst incursion on this street. It is crammed into a lot that leaves almost no outdoor space to speak of with its back jammed up against an old stone wall that lines the access road to the Oakley Country Club. It has no character and no detail, looking like something that you might find (unfortunately) with about 50 more like it in a project where there’s no urban context to address.

But the worst crime by far is that it DOES NOT EVEN FACE THE STREET!! It’s the only one on the street that doesn’t (I couldn’t find a house anywhere in the neighborhood that turns its side to the street.) and it seems to say that what’s been done here for over 200 years is irrelevant.

I created a little slide show so you can see for yourself. It’s a walk down the west side and then back up the east side of the street. After you look, ask yourself, and then ask the town how this
building was approved.

267 – 331 School Street (click on the slide icon)

Update 5/19/05: Mari Ryan reported at the East End Neighbors meeting May 16 on a meeting with Nancy Scott (Zoning Department) about the new building on School Street. She felt the town was very responsive about all the construction related violations but the building despite its bad fit in the lot does meet all zoning requirements. Neighbors who live close by are concerned that the single driveway will force residents to park on the street, which could calm traffic, but if it is too close to the corner may reduce sight lines and be more dangerous. Oakley Country Club has torn down the stone wall that the back doors looked out on and have replaced it with a high wooden face, exaggerating the building’s bad fit.

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