The once-beautiful two-story white brick home overlooking the Rosemount-McIver Historic District on Hillcrest Drive is set for demolition — 10 years after it was gutted by a fire.
Sanford’s Historic Preservation Commissioner voted to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness from the city on Jan. 27, granting permission for the city to move ahead in demolishing the historic home that has sat dormant for a decade. The home, located at 223 Hillcrest Drive, was built in 1940 and was known as the Joseph and Lee M. Lazarus House.
The house was owned by Kristina Wagner, who left the structure vacant for years after the fire in 2009, until her death in 2016. According to Barbara McMillen, Sanford’s code enforcement supervisor, the home was deemed “unfit for human habitation” in a Findings of Fact and Order published by the city last November. The structure was also considered a fire and safety hazard and was considered a “blight” to the historic district. There had also been reports of squatters residing in the home and vandalism.
The COA’s work proposal will have the home torn down and all debris removed (there may also be removal of trees). Additionally, the retaining wall in front of the home that sits along the sidewalk on Hillcrest Drive will be considered for either repair or demolition — a costly project either way. The wall has also been deemed a potential hazard because of falling rocks.
Wagner’s death and confusion over ownership of the property thereafter — in addition to the fact that the home sits in the historic district (which means hoops to jump through for any kind of revitalization or demolition project) — have contributed to the lengthy delay in a final decision on the home. While the vote in January makes demolition all but certain, no dates have been announced by the city on when the razing of the home will begin.