'Victory Garden' to be uprooted?

Ian B. Murphy

A local developer has an agreed to buy Lexington Gardens on Hancock Street in Lexington, the longtime home of WGBH’s television show “The Victory Garden.”

Last week, Homes Development Corp. applied for a demolition permit for the house at 91 Hancock St. and all buildings and greenhouses at 93 Hancock St.

“What we’re doing is going ahead with an application to demolish the structures on the site with the expectation that we’ll be applying in the future to redevelop the property,” said Joseph Marino, Home Development Corp.’s director of acquisitions and holdings.

Those buildings are on the Historic Districts Registry, however, and a Historical Commission hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 21 to discuss the matter.

Marino said the demolition permit is part of a process to see if the town wants to keep the historic structures at Lexington Gardens intact, and if not, what the community envisions as the future of the property.

“The town has a quite open process, one that allows ample input from the community and others, which we’ll all be listening too,” said Marino. “We look forward to working with the town on the reuse of the property.”

At the Historical Commission meeting in February, the developer, abutters, and any members of the public will be able to comment on the demolitions of the currently protected buildings. At the end of the meeting, the commission will vote either to delay the demolition permit, or recommend the building commissioner issue the permit, according to David Kelland, chairman of the Historical Commission.

The permit can be delayed for up to one year, with the hopes that the developer will find someone to refurbish the buildings and leave them standing. After one year, the developer may demolish the buildings at their own behest, Kelland said.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Lexington Garden Center’s “Victory Garden” was the filming site of a television show of the same name, broadcast on PBS. The show, which has since moved to other locations, is the longest-running gardening show on television, according to the WGBH Web site,

Victory Gardens were set up during World War II as a way to reduce pressure on the public food supply. Lexington Garden Center had maintained its garden as a way for customers to get new ideas for their homes.