Builders weigh in on latest home demos in Branford


BRANFORD – While an antique home may have an ancestry and is loved by many, the question arises – should this old home be saved?

Two coast builders agree that it is not worth saving old houses.

The topic is in the wake of the recent controversial demolitions of the historical Warner house at Pine Orchard and the Pawson Park Roller Rink House in Branford, which was demonstrated earlier this month.

These builders took the side of the new building opposite the maintenance.

Eric Rose, who has owned Branfords EM Rose Builders, Inc. for around 35 years, walked through Warner House a few years ago at the request of a potential buyer. Femolizing the house was the right decision, he said.

The Pine Orchard landmark sold for $ 1.3 million while the Roller Rink House at 44 Wakefield Road sold for $ 1.38 million.

Rose, a Pine Orchard resident and a member of the Pine Orchard Zoning Board of Appeals, shared why he thought many people, including a majority on Facebook, were shocked that the 1894 Warner House was razed last month.

“I just think it has allowed reactions from people who see demolitions and think that conspicuous consumption, history is being destroyed – do we no longer value anything?” Said Rose.

“They don’t know enough to look at a building and decide whether to keep it, change it, or replace it,” he added.

Builder Bill Plunkett, who has done about a dozen monument preservation jobs in Madison, said decisions about saving a building would have to be made individually.

He talked about what to look for when looking at a building. “Historical significance,” he said. “Does it have any structural value? Does it have an architectural meaning? “

Rose spent years renovating historic homes, including a recent restoration of an 1875 Branford Victorian, he said.

Warner House badly built?

Rose said the Warner House was poorly designed and not well built. “It had to be completely redesigned. None of it made sense. “

“It probably didn’t make a lot of sense even in the good old days, but it was terrible in terms of modern floor plans,” he said.

The house, built by Pine Orchard founder Alden M. Young, was a gift to his daughter Olive and her husband Milton Warner, who was also Young’s business associate at the turn of the century.

One of the most distinctive features of the 10,105-square-foot house was the palatial music room that housed a Skinner pipe organ. The room was used for music concerts and family weddings.

“You have the really big organ room on the left that served as the organ room,” added Rose. “It was just very uncomfortable.”

Rose talked extensively about the floor plan. “It wasn’t even a good floor plan when you had servants, much less now in a modern context,” he said. “The floor plan itself couldn’t be determined unless you gutted it and started over in that volume of exterior walls.”

Plunkett also talked about elements of older homes that don’t fit today’s lifestyle – like unusable space, low ceilings, and drafty interiors. “So it makes sense to pull down some houses.”

But on the other hand, he said, “People say, ‘Well, you can build a more energy efficient house’.

“In my opinion, the most energy efficient house is the one that you don’t tear down,” he added. “Do you know how much energy it costs? When I say energy – personnel and resources. “

For some, it comes down to money

“You’re certainly not going to buy a building and say, ‘Well, I’ll fix it, but I’m not going to make a great house,'” said Rose. “It doesn’t make sense – who would do that? If you put money into it, you will make a great house. “

Rose addressed the outdated mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems at Warner House.

“The old boiler system was completely gone,” he said. “It had to be replaced. You can’t replace it with air because you can’t do duct work in a building with this ceiling height and layout, which means you really can’t have air conditioning, but you can remove radiators and baseboard radiant heat. ”

Although the windows were original, they weren’t energy efficient, Rose said.

Rose claims the house wasn’t well built. “In my business we always say: ‘You don’t build the way you used to.’

“Thank goodness,” he added. “We don’t often see really well-built buildings from that era, let alone are they in good condition after all the changes that have been made over the decades?”

Plunkett agreed. “They say they don’t make them like they used to, and that’s usually a good thing because most of them aren’t very well built.”

Both Rose and Plunkett agreed that it is ultimately the homeowner’s decision. “It’s private property,” said Rose. “If you’re really upset about it, buy it. Otherwise it is like that. “