NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 22, 2013

Troubled bar or historic hotel?

Preservationists say Beverly building should be saved

(Continued)

Trafton embarked on a two-year renovation and expansion that created an elegant Victorian-style hotel with a mansard roof and porches that stretched along two sides of the first and second floors. The hotel had baths on every floor and offered meals on either the “European or American plan,” said local historian Richard Symmes of Beverly.

The presence of the Trafton, along with the adjacent Casa de Lucca restaurant, another former railroad hotel, and the train depot across the street gives Beverly a rare grouping that was once common but is now increasingly rare, Pujo said.

“I would argue the arrangement of historic buildings in the Beverly depot area can be found in no other large city in Essex County,” he said.

Both the former Press Box and the Casa de Lucca buildings were declared “historically significant” by the Massachusetts Historical Commission in 2008. Pujo said the area has been nominated to be included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Pujo said the city of Beverly touts the importance of historic preservation in its master plan and should be working to save the Hotel Trafton.

The City Council’s Finance Committee last week passed an ordinance that would give developers tax incentives to develop on Rantoul Street in the area of the train depot. If the ordinance is passed by the full City Council, Windover stands to benefit with its Press Box project.

City Councilor Scott Houseman included a provision in the ordinance that would exclude the train depot from the tax break district, so as not to incentivize developers to change the historic depot. But he did not exclude the former Hotel Trafton.

Houseman said he talked to local historians about the building and decided it was not as significant as the depot and would be costly to preserve. The historical features of the building’s interior, he said, have been “eviscerated.”

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