Percy Browne House Updates
The Historical Commission was advised during the fall of 2021 that Tabor Academy would be working with a local architect to evaluate design and programmatic options for adaptive reuse of the Percy Browne House. This was indeed good news.
In May 2022, the Historical Commission was provided an opportunity to meet with the architect and Tabor representatives to tour the building and continue the discussion on possible reuse options. The meeting was productive and all agreed we will continue to work together to explore programmatic options and development opportunities for accomplishing our mutual preservation objectives.
The Percy Browne House was featured in a recent talk by Meg Steinberg for the Marion Arts Center and Sippican Historical Society. The presentation explored the role of Henry Hobson Richardson in Marion's Gilded Age, including how the Percy Browne House influenced many of Marion's later shingle-style summer homes. It also highlighted the influence of the innovative Percy Browne House design on the design development of later Richardson Shingle Style houses of the 1880s.
The Historical Commission reached out to Tabor's new Head of School, Tony Jaccaci, upon his arrival in July. Soon thereafter, we met with him and had a very productive discussion about the building's history and significance in the context of Marion's Resort Era growth.
We are hopeful that our offer to collaborate with Tabor will produce a renovation plan that is both economically feasible and functionally integrated with Tabor's long-range plans. We discussed the opportunity to co-host a public lecture about the property to generate local interest and awareness. We encouraged Tabor to proceed with a reuse feasibility study. We will await further action until Mr. Jaccaci and the Board of Trustees have determined how they wish to proceed.
The Historical Commission reached out to Tabor Academy recently and we were provided with the following response:
Tabor has postponed the Percy Brown House project due to COVID-19.
The Historical Commission will plan to offer a public lecture on the building's architectural significance and importance within the catalog of Henry Hobson Richardson's work, at such time as public meetings are again allowed.
It is our understanding that Tabor Academy is revising its earlier plan to demolish the Percy Browne House at 192 Front Street and considering multiple options for renovation and repurposing.
The building was built in 1881-1882 and was designed by noted architect Henry Hobson Richardson. It is considered an exceptional example of an early Shingle-style home and a critical element in the canon of Richardson's designs. It has been studied extensively by a number of renowned architectural historians and is consistently praised for its distinctive vocabulary of innovative design elements and use of broad expanses of shingles, from which the style soon earned its name.
Preservation Massachusetts (PM), the state-wide non-profit historic preservation organization dedicated to preserving the Commonwealth's historic and cultural heritage, was invited by Tabor Academy to collaborate and advise on the project. PM has taken on the role of collaborative point person - hearing from and working with a variety of interested parties - and implementing a strategy to connect and engage with the property owner about the potential and future of Richardson's smallest commission. Demolition is off the table for the time being and ongoing work continues in an effort to present realistic options and resources for the property. This collaboration with both the owner and interested/concerned parties has laid the foundation for reaching a positive preservation outcome for this truly historic and hidden gem.