Posted on: Thursday, February 28, 2019
By Virginia Adams and Amelia Devin Freedman
Reading Historical Commissioners
READING — Standing proudly but like a neighborhood orphan, the house at 24 Grove Street is up for adoption! The Reading Historical Commission is looking for a visionary who loves old houses and is willing to save this historic gem on Grove Street. This announcement is part of an effort to find a new owner to save the house from demolition. The house is now under a six-month demolition delay, during which alternatives to tearing it down are being sought.
This Greek Revival cottage was built by Reading resident Asa Parker Tibbets in the mid-19th century. Tibbets was born in 1823 and married Hannah Eames Batchelder in 1845. He was a cordwainer working in Reading’s shoe industry. In 1862, Tibbets volunteered to fight for the Union, and served as a First Corporal in the 50th Massachusetts Infantry. He died in Baton Rouge of illness less than a year later, at age 40. A few years after Asa’s death, Hannah married Levi Parker and continued to live in the Grove Street house.
Tibbets’s name was engraved on the Soldiers’ Monument in Laurel Hill Cemetery; Hannah was buried there in 1872.
The modest structure currently has three bedrooms and one bath. Inside, it features a spectacular staircase in the front entrance that curves up to the second floor. This curve is accented by a wall that follows the same contour in the foyer. The fireplaces throughout have been blocked off but still remain.
On the exterior, the wide front entrance way has narrow sidelights and pilasters that are emblematic of the larger corner pilasters; these features are characteristic of the Greek Revival architecture. A careful observer will also note the detail over the windows that follows into the interior.
Although the house is visually pleasing, it needs considerable help to revive it and to make it livable once again. This project is envisioned not as a restoration but as a reuse, which would allow the new owner considerable latitude. The sizable lot would allow for varied additions; a new master bedroom, an updated kitchen, an additional bath, and a two-car garage for example. The current builder/owner, Sage Development Corporation, is even willing to stay on to undertake the work for the buyer.
Those who have questions about 24 Grove Street, or who would be willing to consider adopting this historic home may send an email to [email protected] and a Reading Historical Commission member will contact you.