The Bernard Capen House, which was moved from Dorchester to Milton in 1909 to prevent its demolition, hasn't been so lucky the second time around. The house, which tradition dates to 1636 and dendrochronology dates to 1658 is one of the few remaining 17th century houses in the Boston area. It is currently being dismantled to make way for a new house.
Houses as old as the Bernard Capen House are like Vermeer paintings in their scarcity, which is why the loss of the Capen House hurts so deeply. Instead of a middle of the night robbery like at the Gardner Museum however, this theft has happened in broad daylight. But the Town of Milton does have something in common with the Gardner Museum: in both cases security was completely inadequate. It is beyond me how the Town of Milton did not have some sort of landmark status attached to this property which would have forestalled demolition. As a side note, Vermeer painted the View of Delft and The Concert (which was stolen from the Gardner) about the same time as the Bernard Capen House was being built--contrast the Capen House to the buildings of Delft.
The one ray of hope is that the firm carrying out the dismantling, Landmark Services, is documenting and storing the Capen House as it is taken apart in the hope of finding a buyer who wishes to rebuild the house. Estimated cost? $600,000, which stands in sharp contrast to the $295 it cost to move the James Blake House in Dorchester to its present location in 1895.
Although it may be too late to help save the Capen house, the Dorchester Historical Society is currently raising money to match a Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund Grant for Phase I restoration of the James Blake house, which dates to c. 1650. If you would like more information about how you can donate and help preserve the oldest house in Boston, please send me an email or contact the Dorchester Historical Society directly by following this link.
[some information for this post came from the Boston Globe]