Time’s up for Morristown’s House with Nine Lives

Wrecking crews made short work Monday of 122-year-old house at 10 DeHart St., future site of a restaurant. Photo by Pamela Babcock
Wrecking crews made short work Monday of 122-year-old house at 10 DeHart St., future site of a restaurant. Photo by Pamela Babcock
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UPDATE: Adds video and more comments from planning board and historic preservation commission.

There was no last-minute savior, no 11th-hour pardon from the governor.

Morristown’s House with Nine Lives, at 10 DeHart St., bit the dust on Monday.

Its owners, the Walshes, had offered it to anyone who would take it off their hands. They need the space for a restaurant they have been planning for years.

THEN & NOW: House at 10 DeHart St., left, January 2016, photo by Kevin Coughlin. Right: Demolished, June 11, 2018, photo by Pamela Babcock
THEN & NOW: House at 10 DeHart St., left, January 2016, photo by Kevin Coughlin. Right: Demolished, June 11, 2018, photo by Pamela Babcock

Morristown realtor Kathryn “Kit” Godby obtained approvals last year to move the house to “Little Dublin,” on nearby Catherine Lane, for conversion to apartments. But zoning requirements proved too big a hurdle, and she thought better of it.

The spacious three-story, gambrel-roofed structure had a full life, spanning 122 years. It variously served as a private residence, an office building, a salon and a deli. 

On a drizzly day in 2002 it was moved from Pine Street, to accommodate an expansion of the Community Theatre, now known as the Mayo Performing Arts Center.

Commercial house at 10 DeHart St. would be replaced by bowling nightclub if the town approves a liquor license transfer sought by the Walsh family. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
RIP: House at 10 DeHart St. in 2012. A restaurant is coming in its place. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The house had sat vacant for the last few years after a deli closed. Last year, an attorney for the Walshes told the town planning board the house would be moved.

Some planning board members wanted to hold him to that as a condition of site plan approval.

“I think all of us on the Planning Board wanted to see the house preserved in another location, and maybe we should have pushed harder to make that happen. I think I’m more concerned with what happens when the new bar opens across the street from a 59-unit apartment building,” said board member Joe Kane.

“We encourage the integration of historic artifacts into the quality of community life.  That is enlightenment.  We deplore a society that elevates personal profit above enlightenment.  That degrades our quality of life,” said Marion Harris of the Morristown Historic Preservation Commission.

The planning board ultimately voted to allow demolition to proceed.

“It is always a shame to lose some older buildings in town,” said board Chairman Joe Stanley.  “The planning board… tried to preserve it, but it proved not to be viable.”

Stefan Armington, the town council liaison to the board, said he was not sad about that.

“I don’t really know what the big deal was,” he said.

Video: R.I.P., old house. Video by Pamela Babcock, June 11, 2018:

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5 COMMENTS

  1. No Margret I have not. Food and drink establishments are what brought Morristown to where it is. You need to realize that is the hand that fed this town for the last ten years. I, along with many other residents, enjoy that liveliness in the downtown especially on the weekends. Its why I moved here. In addition, instead of trying to decide for people what they like, why don’t you let their money tell you whether they like it or not? Residents must really hate these bars and restaurants since they’re always packed and they are willingly spending their money right? People vote with their wallets.

  2. Hasn’t Connor noticed that this area does not need yet another place to eat and drink outside in a part of Town
    already saturated with bars and noisy crowds late at night.

  3. Great – excited to see the new place once complete. Hopefully another nice area to dine and have a drink outside at!

  4. It is sad to see this old house demolished particularly since The Community Theatre board worked hard to preserve it when the development of the Vail Mansion necessitated an alternative access for loading for concerts. Thanks to Peter Kaphouris, who owns a very popular hair salon in Morristown, the house was moved from Pine Street to DeHart Street over a memorable August weekend. The house represented a fascinating piece of Morristown history and it is a shame that it could not be saved.

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