Horror film filmed on the Concord estate in 1936, which is due to be demolished
The Concord Historical Commission hopes its history will not be lost when the new owners of the property at 1075 Lowell Road demolish the house.
The house was designed in 1936 by Concord architect Harry Little for Brooks Stevens Jr. and his wife, Janet Stevens. The Stevens family were known in Concord and Lowell for their role in the textile industry. Stevens died in 1981.
According to Free Concord Public Library, Little designed several architecturally significant buildings in the city, including remodeling the exterior of the Victorian-era library into the Georgian style for which it is known today.
He designed the Middlesex Institution for Savings, the Concord Antiquarian Society, the Trinitarian Congregational Church, the Fowler Library, and many other storefronts and buildings in the city. One of his most notable jobs was working on the National Cathedral in Washington, DC
“If you look at Helen’s Restaurant, they’re lattice windows, but they’re also arched on both sides,” said Pierce Browne, longtime Concord resident. “People don’t realize it, but it’s one of the little architectural details that make Concord special, and in many ways it looks like a scene from Charles Dickens’ London in 1860 because you don’t have those types of windows anymore sees.”
Little also designed houses for the notable Concordians Berkeley Wheeler, Horace Arnold and William Buttrick, along with a house for themselves on Simon Willard Road and the house built for the Stevens known to them as Knollbrook.
The 8,749-square-foot European-style home spanning nearly 90 acres was sold to new owners for $ 19.2 million in 2018. Shortly thereafter, they applied to the Concord Historical Commission for permission to demolish.
During a public hearing on the demolition in April 2019, the owners’ lawyers said the family wanted to demolish the house because it was too big and grandiose and they were mainly interested in the property with a pond and public paths.
The lawyers said the owners would allow the home to be moved or salvaged if someone else paid for it, and they would be willing to donate the home’s interior.
The members of the commission asked the owners to commission an appraiser to draw up an architectural monument report that explains in detail the historical significance and condition of the building and examines the measures required for its preservation. They also recommended a “green demolition,” which involves recycling around 80% of the house’s elements. However, the owners are not required to fill out the HSR.
The commission decided to label the house “Preferentially Received” and delayed the demolition of the house for a year until January 2020. After that date, the owner has two years to complete the demolition or request a re-examination of the demolition. This deadline is approaching January 11, 2022.
Upon hearing of the impending demolition, Peggy Burke, former director of the Concord Museum, was concerned about the lack of records for the house.
“The most important thing is that we have the plans, views, dimensional drawings, and photographs of all the walls and rooms,” said Burke. “A monument report is a rather complex document that can take a long time to create. We want to make sure that the documentation is available for further researchers. ”
Burke unearthed a Massachusetts Historical Commission report in 1992 that shares the history of the home and describes its interior details and architectural style. However, the report does not include any interior photographs or blueprints.
Horror film shot on location
Meanwhile, the property has been selected as the location for Black Kettle Films’ horror film “The Wound Wood”. The exterior of the house was also used as the Laurence House in the 2019 film adaptation of “Little Women”.
According to the pre-production trailer for “Woud Wood”, the film is about an arborist and her young son who come to a New England estate to cut trees, but soon discover a supernatural presence that haunts them.
The trailer says the owners gave the filmmakers exclusive access to the property and permission to continue filming there after it was demolished.
“The back of the property has been open to the public for years, and the couple kindly allowed it,” said Burke, who lives nearby and often uses the paths. “In the fall there were cranes, drones, actors, and they used the forest.”
It’s unclear if the house was altered during filming, which began that summer. At the time of publication, the owners did not return requests for comment from their attorney.
However, Concord Senior Planner Heather Gill confirmed that the owners hired someone to produce a report similar to the Historical Structures Report.
“Although the owner is under no obligation to fill out the report, they have indicated that they have hired a historical architect to produce a” historical property documentation report which is generally in line with the proposed scope of work given to you by Concord’s planning department ( Planning scope), “Gill said via email.
Gill said they plan to meet the Jan. 11 demolition deadline, depending on when the demolition permit is issued, and that people will line up to retrieve materials from the house before it collapses.
Memories of the old Concord
Browne, 86, has fond memories of Brooks Stevens’ home. Brooks and Janet Stevens were close friends with his mother, and he grew up with their three children, including his classmate Derwin (Dinny) of the Fenn School.
“Dinny had a little outboard motorboat and his father dammed Spencer Brook and cut through the woods to build a canal so he built an island and you could drive around it,” Browne said. “Dinny and I played cops and robbers in our boats, you could go behind the island and hide and the other guy would come over and chase you. It was pretty exciting for a 12 year old.”
Browne says it is a tragedy that the house will be demolished, especially with no documentation of its interiors. He hasn’t been in the house since Steven’s funeral but wants it to be kept as part of Little’s legacy.
“It just seems like a great sadness to see something so important being torn down. Classic cars like me and many other people who know about the house are really downcast that they are about to tear it down.”