Public hearing on Tobey Homestead demolition set for Jan. 31
A public hearing is scheduled for Jan. 31 as Southcoast Health seeks approval to tear down the historic Tobey Homestead for an expanded emergency department. The hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.
The New Bedford-based hospital system announced plans for the multi-million project in 2017. Built in 1825, Tobey Homestead is named after the hospital’s benefactor and namesake, Alice Tobey Jones. In 1985, a fire nearly destroyed the building, however, residents rallied to raise funds and refurbish the local landmark, which is on the National Historic Register. The building is located at 43 High St.
The building’s status requires Southcoast officials to secure a “certificate of hardship” from the town’s Historic District Commission. If approved, Southcoast will be a step closer to its expansion plans.
In 2017, members of the town-appointed Historical Commission and Historic District Commission explored options for preserving the building. Ultimately, Southcoast Health decided not to incorporate the homestead in its expansion plans.
Hospital officials had considered a number of different options for the expansion, but settled on the current plans because of the proximity to the intensive care unit, the operating room and imaging center. In response to residents asking if Tobey Homestead could be incorporated into the expansion, representatives said the building is not suitable for treating patients.
Building codes for medical facilities, particularly in the area of fire resistance, are strict and the homestead doesn’t meet those requirements, according to Southcoast officials.