I serve as a commissioner on the City of Summit’s Historic Preservation Commission. A primary mission of this government appointed body is to oversee the historic resources of Summit and to advocate for responsible stewardship of these valuable and irreplaceable sites in the city.
The proposed demolition of the historic home known as Avebury at 14 Bedford Road has recently come to our attention. This exemplary example of the Tudor Revival style in Summit was constructed in 1889 by the Truslow family and was the centerpiece of the Carlton Academy in 1907 and has been owned and maintained by the Oratory School since 1924. The SHPC understands the school’s need for a new fieldhouse with modern office and athletic facilities, but fails to comprehend how such a respected organization in the community could destroy the first tangible piece of its own history? This building could easily be rehabilitated for office use or added onto the back with a new fieldhouse or other facility addition. Numerous members of the SHPC are architects willing to offer their advice to explore these options with the school. The SHPC recognizes that change and progress in our community are inevitable, but there is a positive outcome to be examined here in which school officials, citizens of Summit and other stakeholders could all be satisfied.
Without question, the loss of the iconic Avebury House at14 Bedford Road, and its ability to tell the history of Summit and the story of your school to future generations would be an irreplaceable loss. Demolition is permanent, and once destroyed, a place is lost forever.
I strongly urge Oratory Prep to reconsider the decision to demolish 14 Bedford Road and look instead at a policy of adaptive reuse, preserving this historic building as an important landmark on the campus to inspire future generations of students who can be proud of their school’s heritage.
Thank you for your time and consideration.