Developers Drop Plans to Tear down Donald McKay’s Brother’s Home in Eagle Hill

The small red, and white Italianate Victorian home at 88 White St. is packed with history. The home, which sits on the National Register of Historic Places, was built by Donald McKay for his brother in 1860, and is only one of two homes connected to Eastie’s famed shipbuilder.

The home remains in good shape, and has been a community treasure for more than 150 years, as is Donald McKay’s home just up the road a bit at 78-80 White St.

So it was no surprise that the Eagle Hill community almost had a collective heart attack when word came that the house was sold to a developer who was planning to tear it down.

However, after an emergency abutters meeting, the attorney for the developer, Jeff Drago, said his client had scrapped plans to tear the building down and he would come back before the community with a revised plan.

That moment came at last Wednesday’s during the Eagle Hill Civic Association’s February  meeting.

“I think we really took the feedback from the community and applied it to these revised plans,” said Drago.

The new plan calls for restoring both the McKay House and the carriage house on the property. The interior of the carriage house will be renovated and the developer plans to erect a three-story addition to the carriage house.

The one-family McKay House will be historically restored and remain as one unit of residential housing.

“The entire project will be four units in total,” said Drago. “This new plan we will be able to preserve the two historic buildings while being able to add some additional units.”

The home was sold to a developer and the developer’s original plan was to raze the historic home and carriage house and replace it with a seven-unit condo building.

However, EHCA members and Rep. Adrian Madaro reached out to Drago and the developer urging them to come to the community with a plan that preserves the two structures.

“These structures are very, very significant to the community,” said EHCA President Debra Cave. “This home is really a treasure to this community. It is only one of two homes built by Donald Mckay. There’s his (Donald McKay) home on White Street and this home that he built for his brother, so these are really very significant to this neighborhood and its history.”

Before last week’s meeting Cave asked the developer to consider a project that does not try to maximize profits but respects the neighborhood’s local history.

At last week’s meeting EHCA members started to warm up to the project, but expressed some concerns over the detail of the historic renovation.

EHCA board member Charlie Lograsso said he wants to make sure, if the project goes forward, that the developer does his due diligence in researching what the home and carriage house looked like around the time it was built. Lograsso said the developer should take great care in researching architectural details such as window treatments, and building materials like clapboards and other features, to ensure they are appropriate to the period in which the home and carriage house were built. 

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