Does This House Harbor A Secret Worth Uncovering?


140 South East Street, built around 1860 was one of three homes considered by the Historical Commission for possible demolition delay. Photo:

Report of the Meeting of the Historical Commission, March 30, 2023

This meeting was held over Zoom and was recorded. It can be viewed here.

Robin Fordham (Chair), Becky Lockwood, Hetty Startup, Madeleine Helmer, and Pat Auth. (There are two vacancies on the Commission)

Staff: Nate Malloy (Town Planner, Staff liaison)

140 South East Street (? Built about 1860)

While approving of the demolition of two simple early twentieth century homes at 126 and 148 South East Street, the Historical Commissioners, after considerable debate, thought that 140 South East Street had an ownership and architectural history worth documenting with photographs before that structure could be demolished. Staff, with the help of the chair, will fill out a Massachusetts Historical Commission Form B which will require considerable effort to complete all the details.

All three homes were bought by the present owner 20 years ago as rental properties. All three have had many repairs and renovations over their existence so that little exists of the original historical structures. No photos of the interiors are available but it is likely that they also date to a later period. All three houses are in need of considerable structural repair and cannot be moved to another site without collapsing. The three houses are located to the south of the East Amherst Historic District.

Research by the Commission Chair On 140 South East Street
In researching the history of 140 South East Street, Historical Commission Chair Robin Fordham said she “found that the site has a clear title history which aligns with historic maps going back to at least 1866. Further documentation would likely require an in-person visit. Simeon Edwards is identified as S. Edwards on the 1860 map, with no house directly to the north of his.  Simeon was a farmer who married three times and had at least seven children. He passed the house to his oldest son, Amasa Edwards, who promptly sold it to Clara Cutler (or Cutter), who is listed as Mrs. Clarissa Cutler on the 1873 map. She seems to have married twice, but Fordham was unable to track down anything on her marriage to “Mr. Cutler”. Amasa Edwards is buried in West Cemetery.”

All commission members considered this documentation important as it suggested that 140 South East Street could be a typical nineteenth century worker home although there is no concrete evidence linking this particular structure to the aforementioned deeds to a structure on this site in the maps of the period. There are similar houses dating to the early twentieth century that are known to be worker housing on the south side of College Street just to the west of this intersection.

The three homes that will be demolished contain a total of four rental units. The owner plans to submit plans for a mixed-use building similar to the one under construction across South East Street (South East Commons) which he also owns.

126 South East Street, built in 1929. Photo:
148 South East Street, build around 1928. Photo: Google Maps
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1 thought on “Does This House Harbor A Secret Worth Uncovering?

  1. The buildings pictured appear to be sound and, given the obscene rental prices in Amherst, good candidates for low-income housing. Tearing them down to build some “mixed use” structure is most likely yet another environmental travesty. We don’t suppose anyone has done an honest assessment of that?

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