I am a former member of the Falmouth Planning Board, but I am writing this letter as a townie who first came to Falmouth as a youth in 1958. I lived downtown then, on Nye Road, and I live downtown now on Prospect Street.
As a kid, I used to ride my bicycle all over town, including the area behind Appel’s Drugstore, where the Elm Arch Inn had been relocated some 50 years earlier from its original site on Main Street. Today, I am one of very few Falmouth residents who actually catch a glimpse of that much altered building with any frequency, when I take the back way down Curtis Street to my home on Prospect Street. It is not a very pretty sight in its present condition and location.
Like the Zylinksi home in Teaticket, this is an old building, both out of place and out of time. The site is obscured by a parking lot with dumpsters behind a commercial block. There is a large, ugly concrete slab in front of the building which has no historical value whatsoever.
The Nimrod Club building, with greater historical significance and on a much more favorable site for public viewing, is coming down, as is the Zylinski building. So should the Elm Arch Inn, for the same reasons.
I am writing this out of concern for the Richardsons, the family that owned and operated the inn when I first came to Falmouth more than 50 years ago, but are now saddled with a costly relic that they have no use for, nor does anyone else. They have arranged a favorable sale of the property with a local builder, contingent upon his getting the necessary permits to raze the building and rebuild on that otherwise valuable downtown real estate.
This project can and should go forward out of fairness to the Richardsons, without the delay now being interposed by those who have no interest in the matter other than a misplaced, knee-jerk belief that there is some remaining historic value to the building in its present location. Their case could be made if it were still on its original Main Street site, on its original foundation, with high visibility but that hasn’t been so for more than 100 years.
I believe the Richardsons would welcome an offer to take the building away, for relocation to some more appropriate site, but nobody has come forward to take on that responsibility or to bear the cost. Absent such an offer from those who oppose the pending project based on “historic” values, their opposition should be dismissed summarily and the necessary permits granted without further delay.
This, again, is a matter of fairness to the Richardson family who should not be required to pay for the misplaced historic sensibilities of others who have no financial stake in the matter.
Richard K. Latimer