Claflin School Studios, 449 Lowell Avenue, 1998, entrance from Oak Cliff Road

photograph courtesy of Alice E. Ingerson      

 

<claflin 1953
Claflin Elementary School, Newtonville, 1953

Photograph courtesy of the Newton History Museum      

 

 

 

 

 

A BRIEF HISTORY

The Claflin Elementary School opened in 1953 (see photograph above) on property deeded to the City of Newton by The Claflin Family as a bird reserve. The school closed in the early 1980s and remained unoccupied until 1986...

Claflin School winter 1986

Many factors contributed to the development of the Claflin School Studios:

In the early to mid 1980s the greater Boston area was undergoing significant changes in real estate development. Old warehouses and manufacturing buildings in out-of-the-way parts of the city and surrounding areas, that had been home and refuge to local artists, were being targeted as attractive sites for renovation and development. As a result, many local artists were facing eviction from established studio spaces that they had created and long occupied.

In 1984, two artists, Gina Fiedel and Judy Haberl, learned from David Brown, then chairman of the Newton Arts Center, of a surplus elementary school building in Newtonville. They began a long campaign to acquire the building and develop it for artist studios and living spaces. Other artists soon joined the project, including three members of the Waltham Mills Artists Association: Roberta Paul, Scattergood-Moore and Wendy Seller. David Brown, Josephine Simon, director of the Newton Arts Center, and Christine Temin, art critic for the Boston Globe, were crucial supports to the artists in these early years. Resources were obtained with a grant from the Massachusetts Council for the Arts to retain a consultant, Jero Nesson, with experience in the development of artists housing (among his successes were the artist cooperative buildings at 249 A Street in Boston's Fort Point Channel area and The Brickbottom Artists Building in Somerville) to provide early guidance on the project.

After more than a year of work, including development on an architectural proposal for the site, establishing relationships with neighborhood committees and attending meeting of the Newton Board of Alderman, the Newton Artists Housing Partnership was selected from several proposals as the best use of the former Claflin Elementary School. Construction began in 1986 to create fourteen live/work units for artists, and three units for low-imcome housing. The building was renamed Claflin School Studios and established as a condominium. The artists and their families began moving into their studios and living space, which they had individually designed and constructed, during the spring of 1988.

The original artist members were: Doug Anderson, Michael Beatty, Gerry Bergstein, Kent Boyer, Gina Fiedel, Robin Grebe, Judy Haberl, Ralph Helmick, Will Howcroft, Bob Lewis, Jod Lourie, Louise Marshall, Michael Newby, Marlene Oliver, Roberta Paul, Wellington and Patricia Reiter, Scattergood-Moore, Wendy Seller, and Harvey Low Simons.

 

 

Adapted by Scattergood-Moore from articles by Keith N. Cohen and Christine Temin.

 

Currently, 9 of the original 20 artists continue to reside and work at Claflin School Studios.

 

 

 


 

Newton sold off city schools back in the 1980's

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Over the years, going back to the 1980s, Brian Yates and fellow Newton aldermen voted to sell off many of Newton's elementary school buildings. Now, though, as a recent consultant's report calls for the city to spend millions on new school construction, Yates is wincing...

Beginning in the 1970s, Newton officials decided to consolidate many schools... as the years passed, and the buildings remained empty, many became run-down. Former Mayor Theodore Mann used his considerable political clout to advocate for selling the schools. He persuaded aldermen to sell and solicited developers, who converted them to such uses as artists' lofts, condos, and affordable housing for seniors. Many were sold for less than top dollar. Although Mann referred to the sale of the Claflin school to artists as a "momentous occasion," the building situated on a former bird sanctuary fetched only $400,000. Proceeds from some of the sales also helped fund his greatest legacy, a new public library next to City Hall that bears his name.

...for every remorseful seller, there may be a delighted buyer. Artist Scattergood-Moore, who lives in Newton's former Claflin school, said he struggled to find an affordable place to live for years. Now he lives and works in what was once a special education classroom. "The city did a good thing," he said of the sale. "I really wanted to buy something and wasn't interested in renting and being at the whims of landlords."

Megan Woolhouse,   Globe Staff
first published on July 26, 2007

Scattergood added the following on 6-20-2014:

Today I'm limited by the whims of a management company and board of trustees!

 

The Stefanelli Company, Ann D. Stefanelli, President - PO Box 320542, West Roxbury, MA 02132, telephone, 617-327-2222

 

 

 

 

 

MAPS   of   CLAFLIN   SCHOOL   STUDIOS

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BEFORE and AFTER CONSTRUCTION

 

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press on image to view slideshow of unit 13

studio1 before

2nd floor 6th grade classroom - now Unit 13

 

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press image to go to Wendy Seller's website

studio1 before

1st floor, right half of gym - now unit 1

 

 

studio for sale

 

 

 

 

 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 


Claflin Sledding Hill, January 6, 2010 - photo by Dan Horowitz

 

 

 

City of Newton: Millennium Park, 2004

Millennium Park located between Newton City Hall and the Newton Free Library, is a space where families and friends can gather to relax and enjoy a serene setting.

• Architects: Chang + Sylligardos

The Time Capsule Project
To mark the entry into the new millennium the artists of the Claflin School studios joined in a project to prepare a time capsule that would be sealed for 100 years. The project when completed was presented to the City for burial at a site within the new park by Keith Cohen and Roberta Paul. It was installed in the fall of 2004 and its contents are registered with the Newton History Museum.

    • Board of Aldermen Report (PDF)

City of Newton Public Facilities Committee Report, Wednesday, May 19, 2004: Carol Stapleton presented the Committee with a project proposal for the Millennium Park Claflin School Studios-Time Capsule Project. The proposal is to place a time capsule in Millennium Park. The cost of the burial and the bronze plaque marking the site will be funded through a grant. She asked if the Committee felt that there was a need for the project to go before the Board of Aldermen. The Committee felt that there was no need to docket an item as long as a plan pinpointing the location of capsule is provided to the Board.

 

Newton City Hall and War Memorial Grounds Master Plan, Sept. 2006 (1)

Preservation
Retain and maintain Millennium Park and new parking lot.

Retain and maintain south lawn area adjacent to Millennium Park including new walkway.
Rehabilitation
Retain and maintain Millennium Park and parking.

Remove part of non‐historic brick path that runs through south lawn area; redesign area to better suit current uses.
Restoration
Remove Millennium Park changes and restore the area to 1932 appearance including original parking area.

Remove non‐historic features in south lawn area and restore to 1932 appearance.

Newton City Hall and War Memorial Grounds Master Plan, Sept. 2006 (2)

 

Salvator A. Balsamo Millennium Park - Newton MA posted 05-16-2014

The Salvatore A. Balsamo Millennium Park, Newton, MA, is located south of city hall, visible from Homer Street and near the driveway entrance from that road. The best place to park may be the parking lot for the Newton Free Library across the street.

The park is a smaller portion of the grounds surrounding Newton City Hall and War Memorial. In the area is a brick wall with the name, Salvatore A. Balsamo Millennium Park. Along the same wall are other plaques with names of people who were on the Board of Directors or donors through the Newton2000. There are also small trees in front. Along a parking area is a walkway with stones engraved with names and sayings.

 

 

 

Claflin Park shouldn't be an off-leash park.

"As a resident of the vicinity of Claflin Park for more than 40 years, I feel compelled to voice my strong opposition to the off-leash Newton Parks and Recreation Commission proposal to allow Claflin to become an off-leash dog park. . . Originally, the small designated space was a paved parking lot for the Claflin School community. During the '70's the Claflin School PTO, in response to the community needs, cleared the area and planted grass so that the children could play in a grassy space. A fence was installed for safety during informal ball play and sledding. It was and continues to be a very pleasant addition for the neighborhood.

Newton Board of Alderman, Parks and Recreation Commissioners:
"Please don't waste our small, but treasured, Claflin Field."
Jeanne White, Guest Columnist, first published on August 26, 2010

 

COMMENT: I second this letter. And as I wrote in a comment to a previous article, there is no parking lot for this park. People will have to park on a pretty busy Lowell St. in front of the park, and if a number of people come with their dogs, there is a great potential for a traffic accident with p I don't know the exact potential, because I don't know if the Board considered this issue. The letter writer knows much more than me about the history of the park, and I don't want to come across as locals - only, but just looking at the size of the park and its location, you recognize that it's best suited for the neighbors walking to it and playing in its small confines rather than driving to it, and having dogs taking rein of its limited area. Thanks.

 

 

 


 

 

SELECTED PUBLICATION & EXHIBITIONS

  • THE CLAFLIN COLLECTION CATALOG: A Selection of Artworks by Residents of the Claflin School Studios / Doug Anderson... [et al.]; introduction by Christine Temin. Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs and Newton Free Library, 1992. 1 v. (unpaged), illus. N 709.744 C51T 1992 ... a short history of the Claflin School Studios along with short biographical sketches of the following artists: Doug Anderson, Michael Beatty, Gerry Bergstein, Kent M. Boyer, Robin Grebe, Ralph Helmick, Will Howcroft, Bob Lewis, G.A. Scattergood-Moore, Marlene Oliver, Roberta Paul, Wellington Reiter, Wendy Seller and Harvey Low Simons. Also included are a selection of artworks by each artist.

  • Jane Monent Jordan, "A Studio of One's Own," MIDDLESEX NEWS, April 16, 1987

  • Meredith Fife Day, "Artist Groups Show Work," NEWTON GRAPHICS, October 30, 1986

  • Rosalind Smith, "School for Artists," THE TAB, October 28, 1986

     

  • exhibitions

    2000   Claflin School Studios Time Capsule, Dana Art Gallery, Wellesely, MA

    1993   AArtists from Claflin School Studios, Dana Art Gallery, Wellesely, MA

    1992   The Claflin Collection, Newton Free Library, Newtonville, MA

    1989   Artists in Residence:, Bank of Boston Gallery, Boston, MA

    1986   The Claflin Artists, Newton Art Center, Newtonville, MA

  • Reach Beyond Domestic Violence

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

SELECTED CONDO ARTICLES:

 

While looking for a real estate attorney for some advice, I came across the following images and links which I thought you might find instructive and enjoyable:

Scattergood-Moore

 

 

WARNING ALL POTENTIAL CONDO OWNERS!   If you choose to buy a condominium or "condo," be sure to fully research the property and get everything in writing. . . Although there are many reputable developers, management companies, condo associations and trustees - condo ownership can become a nightmare! There are many frustrations: from raw sewage overflows, violent, loud and unruly neighbors, unleashed and predator pets, dog poop, second-hand smoke and offensive cooking orders, water damage, and repeated violations of condo trust rules. Condo living can make you sick, angry, sad, exhausted, broke, and at times, extremely lonely.

People may buy condos because they don't want the hassles of maintaining a house and lawn. The myth is that condos allow the painting, roof repairs, snow-plowing and lawn mowing to be someone else's problem. However, not only do condo owners have the same issues as people with houses, they need to get these problems fixed by committee and consensus - when condo boards/trustees do not seek consensus with unit owners their decisions can cause resentment and ill-will between unit owners. Self-serving neighbors and poor trustee decisions - especially when it comes to social status, and/or financial resources - can be extremely detrimental to harmonious community existence. Making sure that your trustees and/or the management companies are not mismanaging condo funds or misrepresenting your interests, is a must. . . .

Condo Nightmares and Other Enigmas

 

Doggy Doo-Doo Bags, Flippin' the Bird, and Grumbling Signs
Complaining About Condominium Management Is A Constitutional Right
Old Colony Village Condominium v. Preu, Massachusetts Appeals Court
No. 10-P-875 (Oct. 31, 2011)   Click here for link to full text of case.

I love when constitutional law intersects with real estate law. It's rare, and full of drama. A recent decision by the Appeals Court considered a condominium unit owner's unalienable right to complain, moan and kvetch about condominium management. The First Amendment and the unit owner won this battle.

Doggy Doodie Bags, The Bird & Signs

The case is right out of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry's dad, Morty, is embroiled in a condo trustee election battle at the "Del Boca Vista' condominium project in Florida. . .
Mr. Preu and the condominium management had a history of, shall we say, bad blood between them. Mr. Preu ultimately went on a rampage, placing in the common area bags containing dog feces and labeled with the name of board president Gerard Ritzinger, apparently in response to Preu's belief that Ritzinger had allowed his dog to defecate in an area in which it was forbidden. He gave the middle finger to condo trustees walking through the hall and to security cameras. He wrote nasty memos on his condo fee checks. He also obstructed common area fire doors. Lastly, he posted signs in the common area and a note on a unit owner's door about the cleanliness of the condominium.

The trial judge found that the bag of doggy doo-doo and messing with fire doors violated the condo rules, but that the posting of signs, flipping the Bird, and the nasty memos were protected speech under the First Amendment. The Appeals Court only considered the free speech issue.

Check Your Free Speech Rights At The Door?

The Court held that condominium unit owners do not check their First Amendment rights at the condominium door. "A condominium association does not have as free a hand in restricting the speech of unit owners in the common areas in which those owners share an undivided property interest as another property owner might in dealing with a stranger on his or her property," the court held. Accordingly, the court ruled that Preu's posting of signs, flipping the middle finger and nasty memos - although not the most civil of behaviors - were protected First Amendment speech which could not be punished under condominium by-laws and rules. . .

So. . .

For prospective condo buyers, know what you are getting yourself into before buying a condominium unit. Ask for the condo meeting minutes going 3 years back to see whether there are a history of internal dysfunction and disputes like the Old Colony Village Condo.

For condominium trustees and management, the lesson is a bit tougher. While you don't want to put up with a lot of over-the-top "crap" from unit owners, think twice about starting World War III litigation like this case. The only person in this dispute who made out well is the condo board attorney, as this dispute easily ran over $25,000 in legal fees through a trial and an appeal. Was that a solid investment of condo funds by the board? Over dog poop? Probably not.

Doggy Doo-Doo Bags, Flippin the Bird, and Grumbling Signs:
Complaining About Condominium Management Is A Constitu-
tonal Right, Courts Hold - by Rich Vetstein, November 3, 2011

 

" 'Buying a condo is a very serious business. People put up a lot of money without their eyes being wide open. . ." said Alan Slawsby of Wellesely. . . He advises buyers to have the home inspected and get as much financial information as possible. 'Obtain copies of minutes of board meetings, going back a year or possibly two. Make every possible inquiry as to the history of the building and the people who live there, and the neighbors of your unit in particular - people never ask to meet the neighbors - and don't rely on real estate brokers or their inspectors. And have your own attorney represent you and not the bank's attorney. . .' "

". . . As a real estate lawyer, Shauna Rives knows an owner's rights are spelled out in the condo documents. So when the 35-year-old wife and mother of two bought into a South End building three years ago, she had it written into the documents that she could leave her heavy two-seat stroller in the downstairs hallway instead of having to lug it to the top floor. When the childless couple on the first floor objected, 'we told them to look at the condo documents. We tried to resolve it in the nicest way possible, knowing we had to live with these people. But it was really stressful for them and us because you're sharing such close quarters. . .'"

State Representative Eugene O'Flaherty, has discussed ways to protect condo owners in small buildings. 'This office has been brainstorming several possible initiatives to bring before the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. At this time, we are still considering ways to properly approach the matter, as it is a novel area of the law. . .'

Your Small Condo Association

 

"I'd never live in a condo again!" said former condo owner
after her experience with "two good neighbors and one nightmare."

 

 

PLEASE DO NOT BUY A CONDO
if you're unwilling to be a cooperative/contributing member & pleasant neighbor.

 

 

Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist   (pdf)

 

Condo and HOA Fire Inspection         property maintenance guide

 

Condo Master Policy Ebook

 

Crazy Trustees, No Pet Rules & Leaky Roofs

 

 

Charles Barsotti, Surreal horses vote nay on a mans suggestion at a condo board meeting for the New Yorker magazine

 

 

 

 

Title: "Scattered Dreams"   (2004)
Produced, Directed & Edited by Scattergood-Moore
Videographed by Michael Frassenelli
Music by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, etc..
Description: Trip to Studio 13 at Claflin School Studios, with special appearance by The Studio Cat.
Format: QuickTime (25 MB)   Internet Archive

 

 

 

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