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Board of Appeals



Applicant: The Hingham Historical Society
PO Box 434
Hingham, MA 02043

Owner: Rose B. Woodard
207 Linden Ponds Way, Apt 533
Hingham, MA 02043

Premises: 181 North Street, Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 49387, Page 122

Plans Reference: Site plan set entitled, “Site Plan, 181 North Street - Hingham,” prepared by Cavanaro Consulting, 687 Main Street, Norwell, MA, dated September 2, 2020 and revised through October 27, 2020 (1 sheet); and


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the "Board") on the application of The Hingham Historical Society (the “Applicant” or “HHS”) for a Special Permit A2 under § III-A, 3.6 of the Zoning By-Law (the “By-Law”) and such other relief as necessary to operate a private museum at 181 North Street in Residence District A.

The Applicant simultaneously filed a related application with the Planning Board for Site Plan Review under § I-G and § I-I of the By-Law, along with an application for a Special Permit A3/Parking Determination under § V-A of the By-Law. The Boards’ respective proceedings took place separately. The Planning Board voted on November 2, 2020 to conditionally approve the applications within its jurisdiction.

The Board opened the initial, duly noticed public hearing on the application during a meeting held via Zoom as an alternate means of public access pursuant to an Order issued by the Governor of Massachusetts, dated March 12, 2020, Suspending Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law. A subsequent session of the hearing was held by remote participation on November 16, 2020. The Board panel consisted of regular members Robyn S. Maguire, Chair, and Paul K. Healey and associate member Andrew Touchette. The Applicant was represented during the hearings by Paula Bagger and Deirdre Anderson of the HHS and Ben Wilcox, project contractor. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Special Permit, with conditions set forth below.

Throughout its deliberations, the Board has been mindful of the statements of the Applicant and the comments of the general public, all as made or received at the public hearing.


The subject property consists of approximately 24,238 SF or land located at the westerly intersection of Lincoln and North Streets. The property is improved by a single-family dwelling and detached accessory structure. The Applicant entered into a Purchase & Sales Agreement to acquire the property, which is known as the Benjamin Lincoln House, with financial support from the Town through the Community Preservation Fund. The house, which was constructed in three phases between 1637 and 1790, is located in the both the local and National Register Lincoln Historic District.

The private museum use would be operated in a manner consistent with the Old Ordinary, also located on Lincoln Street and owned by the Hingham Historical Society. Public access to the house would be offered through scheduled, docent-led tours or by request. The property would also be available for school field trips. Museum operations would take place primarily during daylight hours.

Minimal changes to the property would be required to affect the change in use. The HHS plans to enlarge the existing rear doorway and construct a ramp to comply with handicapped accessibility standards. The existing driveway would be resurfaced and four new parking spaces, including one handicapped space, would be created. These changes are subject to the review and approval of Historic New England, which holds a preservation restriction on the property. The Applicant represented to the Board that Historic New England had informally reviewed the proposed plan and given permission to seek local approvals.

As noted in the Summary of Proceedings, the Planning Board voted on November 2, 2020 to conditionally grant Site Plan Approval and a Special Permit A3 for the Project. The Historic Districts Commission also reviewed the Project and voted to issue a Certificate of Approval on October 15, 2020.


Based on the information submitted and presented during the hearing, and the deliberations and discussions of the Board during the meeting, the Board made the following findings in accordance with the Special Permit Approval Criteria under § I-F of the By-Law:

a. The proposed use will be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the Zoning By-Law, for the following reasons: A private museum is allowed by Special Permit in Residence District A. The proposed use will not affect the health, safety, or welfare of any prospective occupants, visitors, neighbors, or the Town.

b. The proposed use complies with the purposes and standards of the relevant specific sections of this By-Law, for the following reasons: On November 2, 2020, the Planning Board voted to conditionally approve Site Plan Review in connection with the proposed use. The Planning Board also voted on November 2, 2020 to issue a Special Permit A3/Parking Determination under § V-A. The use complies with the purposes and standards of all relevant sections of the By-Law.

c. The specific site is an appropriate location for such use, structure, or condition, compatible with the characteristics of the surrounding area, for the following reasons: The Property is an appropriate location for the proposed use. The property is located in the Lincoln Historic District, surrounded by other historic properties, including another house museum, the Old Ordinary, that is also operated by the Applicant.

d. The use as developed and operated will create positive impacts or potential adverse impacts will be mitigated, for the following reasons: The nature of the proposed use will be lower in intensity, with visitors limited as a function of both the age and physical layout of the house. No adverse impacts will be created.

e. There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians, for the following reasons: The existing driveway will be widened to 12’. Four additional parking spaces, including one handicapped accessible space, will be created on site. Based on the Planning Board’s Special Permit A3 Decision, general museum operations and routine tours will be limited to 16 visitors at a time; larger special events will require submission of a Traffic Management Plan and a police detail to ensure safety of vehicles and pedestrians.

f. Adequate and appropriate facilities exist or will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use, for the following reasons: There are no special facilities required for the private museum use. The property is already connected to the public sewer system. Limited lighting fixtures, which have been approved by the Historic Districts Commission, will be installed for safety and visibility. No dumpster is proposed onsite.

g. The proposed Project meets accepted design standards and criteria for the functional design of facilities, structures, stormwater management, and site construction, for the following reasons: Changes proposed to the property are relatively minimal. The widened, resurfaced driveway and additional parking spaces comply with accepted design standards as modified through the Planning Board’s Special Permit A3 Decision. Handicapped accessibility improvements, including a ramp to the widened rear entryway, meet Massachusetts Architectural Access Board requirements. Proposed stormwater management erosion controls additionally meet design standards and will be inspected prior to commencement of construction.


Upon a motion made by Paul K. Healey and seconded by Andrew Touchette, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Special Permit A2 under § III-A, 3.6 to operate a private museum at 181 North Street in Residence District A, subject to the following conditions:

1. The use shall be operated in a manner consistent with the approved plans and representations made by the Applicant to the Board.

2. In accordance with the provisions of the By-Law, the conditions imposed in the Planning Board Site Plan Review Decision, as voted on November 2, 2020, are binding conditions to this decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

For the Board of Appeals,

Robyn S. Maguire
December 9, 2020