Somerville City Hall In Violation of Its Own Building Code

By William Tauro

I noticed on the front of City Hall the recently installed set of brown double vinyl doors at the entrance.

It looks very nice and you could tell it was professionally installed but who issued the building permit on this one?

It is to my understanding that you cannot install vinyl front doors on any historical buildings especially one on a city of Somerville building that’s owned by the city like city hall.

So where is the outrage here? If that was installed on the front of my home or anybody else’s home here in Somerville, the Somerville Historical’s watchdog Brandon Wilson would be pounding on my door with a cease-and-desist order and probably have me arrested.

We’re wondering how long before anybody else notices this violation and what the city plans on doing with it. To be honest with you if that door is allowed to stay on the front of City Hall, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I will install the same type of doors on the front of one of my homes here in Somerville and tell inspectors to pound sand when they come knocking on the door.

Later in the day we did talk to Brendon Wilson the Executive Director of the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission. Her profile read :”She led efforts to adopt a Historic Districts Ordinance in Somerville, pioneer single-building districts, establish the City’s Historic Preservation Commission in 1985, and pass a Demolition Review Ordinance in 2003.  She oversees expansion and administration of over 300 local historic districts, including both single and multi-building districts throughout the City.  She is also responsible for City’s various historic events as well as grant projects related to preservation and restoration of municipally-owned historic properties.

But when I asked her about the new vinal front doors at City Hall she told us that “The DPW did it without her permission or her knowledge and that we should ask the Somerville DPW about it!”

We did ask her what are you going to do about the problem and she replied that still is waiting for an answer.

This story is still developing…

Historic Preservation Laws From and According to City of Somerville Website:

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: City of Somerville and Historic Somerville Seek Docents for May–Oct.2019 (Learn More)

Historic Preservation
OSPCD’s Historic Preservation Division keeps Somerville’s history alive by protecting historic properties, collecting photos and documents, and raising awareness in the community. OSPCD works with the Historic Preservation Commission to ensure Somerville’s most important historic properties are preserved. On this page, you’ll find links to get help with your historic property, learn about Somerville’s history, and more.

The Somerville Historic Preservation Commission (SHPC) was established in 1985. There are 14 volunteer members that include architects, historians, contractors, and other important figures. They work on things like:

Collecting historic documents, photos, and stories for the archive
Identifying historic buildings and districts
Enforcing historic district ordinances and demolition review ordinances
Holding regular public meetings to review cases for alterations or repairs on historic properties
Creating guidelines for making changes to historic properties
Providing community outreach for raising awareness of Somerville’s history, like guided tours and local events
Sponsoring the annual Preservation Awards Program
Running the Somerville Memorabilia Shop
The OSPCD’s preservation planners are part of the City’s Planning Division. They support the SHPC and work with them to protect Somerville’s history. The OSPCD sector is responsible for things like:

Managing local historic districts and city-owned historic properties.
Helping the SHPC enforce rules, like the historic district ordinance and the demolition review ordinance.
Expanding historic districts and monitoring projects within those districts.
Helping owners of historic properties get technical information to help with renovations or changes.
Getting grants to plan reconstruction or restoration of historic municipal properties.

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