[VIDEO] 32 Exchange Street Comes Down

by | Feb 24, 2022

Four years after the Historic District Commission said the house at 32 Exchange St. could be demolished, it finally came down Wednesday, to make way for a 12-unit condominium project approved by the Planning Board in 2020.

During the demolition. Photo by Aimee Heru

The actual demolition started Tuesday; the structure was down by 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. This is the second building to be demolished on the street in recent months: 104 Duke St. was take down – also to be replaced by condos – Dec. 10.

The building had to be abated for asbestos before the demolition could go forward. In addition, lead levels in the soil will require remediation.

According to Department of Environmental Management’s Joseph T. Martella, the amount of lead in the soil exceeded DEM’s limit for residential properties but was below the industrial limit. He said it was not unexpected and could have come from paint and gasoline, when both items contained lead. The property had been owned by Charlie Fishell, who had worked on cars and operated a junkyard on the property in decades past. It had been in a state of benign neglect for many years. 

For the demolition, DEM required that Grenier provide a temporary cap of filter fabric topped by crushed stone in the area where large vehicles would be operating. 

Going forward, Grenier will need to provide a permanent barrier to prevent exposure to the soil – which means anything from a building, a walkway, a parking area or even landscaping.

“What keeps your site, your property compliant, is installing and maintaining the cap. You don’t want it to be disturbed in the future,” Martella said. 

Aimee Huru, who lives next door to 32 Exchange St., complained about the dust raised during the demolition. Martella said DEM’s responsibility was limited to the soil remediation but he had recommended the demolition crew wet down the area to prevent some of the dust. 

You can read more about 32 Exchange Street here:

Fence Erected at 32 Exchange St. to Keep Out Squatters

32 Exchange St. 12-Unit Plan Gets Preliminary Approval

Planning Board Weighs Preliminary OK for 32 Exchange St.

Op/Ed: Protect Historic Properties Like 32 Exchange St.

Planning Board Approves Plan for 12-Unit Complex on Exchange St.

Taking a bite out of 32 Exchange St. Photo by Deb Walsh

32 Exchange St. after the building came down Wednesday, Feb. 23.

32 Exchange Street in summer 2021.

Aerial view of plan for 32 Exchange St.

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15 Comments

  1. Duke

    The dust was so bad – it causes itchy eyes etc. It was so bad that I actually had to leave my home for the day!! No one cared to tell any of us neighbors what was happening – no one respected us .. we should’ve been warned … this is harmful soil …
    People were out walking dogs etc…. Not good nor healthy to breathe in!!

    Reply
  2. Aimee heru

    Hi, Aimee here. Yes, I had hoped there was a plan for demolition that included a fabric fence to help contain the dust. Guess not. The house was completely demolished sending plumes of dust into the street. After the house was completely demolished, a fence was finally put up and a little garden hose was used to sprinkle water on the pile for a while.

    Reply
  3. James Gorham

    As with 104 Duke, no warning whatsoever was given to neighbors regarding the impending day of demolition. I heard the crunching sound and came down to investigate; otherwise , I wouldn’t have known it was happening. The most superficial attempts were made to contain the huge plumes of dust raised from the demolition. Fabric was tied to fencing with zip ties, with large gaps between the sections of fencing. At times demolition occurred with no fencing or fabric blocking anything. The plumes of dust easily rose above the fence. Some debris from the house landed in the street dangerously close to the house across the way. The odor of the demolition could be smelled well over a block away. Needless to say, very little care was given to the safety of residents. This project is a poster child of what should NEVER happen in our high density center of the village, in the heart of our National Historic District, in which 32 Exchange (aka Salisbury House) was a named and contributing property in the list. Horrifying. Words like aghast and disgusted do not begin to cover the contempt I have for this project and those who enabled it to proceed in this manner.

    Reply
  4. Aimee heru

    I had provided a photo of voluminous dust spilling into the street with the lack of fencing. I wish my name had not been used in this article without the related photo which Elizabeth did have. It’s misleading and sanitizing to not use relevant material. The article minimizes concerns to a point of irrelevance. This is a disservice to our community. Aimee

    Reply
  5. Aimee heru

    It’s pretty good, though, that Elizabeth is allowing vehement and critical responses to her piece. Clearly, her reporting doesn’t accurately memorialize the information she had to work with. It’s uncritical. It spins. It whitewashes. It’s pretty cheery. We have been exposed to lead, asbestos, and whatever Charley had in the barrels stashed in there. Joseph Martella from DEM was gracious in his efforts to take action in the wake of the demolition by Grenier Group. EG reporting stays positive! Thank you, Elizabeth!

    Reply
  6. Karen

    I totally agree I live across the way on Duke Street and I believe the town or whoever is the powers that be should’ve told us neighbors what was happening before demolition began

    On another note – can’t drive down exchange st due to construction .. and that space of Duke between king and queen just CAN NOT fit 2 cars driving threw especially if people are parked on street
    It needs to be one way !!
    Thank you

    Reply
    • James Gorham

      Of course I was told by the Planning Board that Exchange St. wouldn’t be blocked off and that thru traffic would have no problem. Just wait until the backhoes start working on digging up and removing all the lead contaminated soil. You better believe it will cause problems with traffic in our already congested part of town, which gets used by people as a shortcut to get to the other side of Main St as they go 50 mph and blow through stop signs. I fully agree that one way should be implemented.

      PS. 32 wasn’t a “crack-house”. It was left empty and abandoned after Charlie died. In a piece in the Pendulum, town historian Bruce Macgunnigle named it as one of the most endangered historic properties in EG, and hoped that it could be saved and restored. However, the HDC ignored this completely when they green-lighted the demolition and declared it if no historic value (despite ample documentation I provided proving otherwise) and Planning Board refused to hear any word of it as they scoffed at our concerns.

      Reply
  7. Ray riccio

    About time. Another crack-house taken out of the neighborhood I grew up in located right in the heart of “our National Historic District.”

    Reply
    • Someone who is aware

      “PS. 32 wasn’t a “crack-house”.

      You have no idea what you’re talking about. Clueless!

      Look back at a prior EG News article about the squatters. Do you think they were there on vacation.

      Reply
  8. Aimee heru

    The demolition represents a lack of oversight, enforcement and safety precautions among state and local officials when it comes to properly razing an historic home contaminated with multiple harmful substances. The dust will be carried along our streets and tracked into our homes. This is an understood source of poisoning.

    Reply
  9. Aimee heru

    Charley’s place was never a crack house. He owned the house since the 1930s and raised his daughter there.

    Reply
  10. Ro

    Folklore of the town is Ol’ Charlie didn’t believe in banks !!
    Keep an eye out for an old oil can roamin round !! Nevah know 😂 😂

    Reply
  11. Aimee heru

    Yes, during only the last few years that Mr. Grenier has owned the property, the land was used for drugs and target practice with guns, and the house was left open. I wasn’t aware the house was used for drugs. I understood it was being used as a convenient outhouse. I learned this from interacting with the squatters which I did to encourage them not to continue to fire at my house as I live next door. Eventually, the building inspector had Mr. Grenier fence off his property. I am very grateful for this. It was very scary and I was so afraid for my family.

    Reply
    • D

      32 wasn’t the only crack house in the neighborhood!

      Reply
  12. M

    …And even if it was a homeless camp crack house you CAN’T tell me the cops. The town and the new owners weren’t aware !!!!!

    Reply

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