It looks as though the end is near for the Priest Williams House at 69 Dudley-Oxford Road in Dudley. This circa 1780 Federal-style house was the residence of Abiel “Priest” Williams, who was a minister in Dudley for 32 years. According to the Historical Commission, this wood-frame house was “once one of the most magnificent dwellings in Federalist Dudley.” The home had been vacant and neglected for nearly a decade before the present owners purchased it last October for $40,000. The new owners applied for a demolition permit, triggering Dudley’s demolition delay ordinance.
After inspecting the house with Circuit Rider Michele Barker last November, Historical Commissioners Ed Bazinet and Michael Braniff concluded that the house was remarkably sound, despite years of neglect. Mr. Bazinet and Mr. Braniff found the massive stone foundation and central chimney base one of the most impressive they’ve seen in town, and noted that much of the original interior trim remains intact. Even some of the original 12-over-12 windows have survived. The Historical Commission invoked a 12-month demolition delay in November 2009.
Since then, Dudley’s Historical Commission has been working tirelessly to find solutions for the Williams House before the clock runs out. Preservation Massachusetts listed it as one of the state’s Most Endangered Resources this past fall, in the hopes that the publicity might attract a new owner. The listing did bring the house to the attention of a potential buyer interested in relocating the building, but unfortunately, the cost of the project exceeded his budget.
The demolition delay expired last November. The owners are willing to sell the house for $1 to anyone who will relocate it, but unless a white-hat rescuer appears on the scene, it looks as though the Williams House will be gone as soon as the weather permits.