SOUTH KINGSTOWN - The razing of the Larchwood Inn began on Monday, as demolition crews lined the site of the old inn and began the deconstruction throughout the course of the day. As many residents remember, the Larchwood Inn was once a prominent staple of Main Street since its construction in 1831. However, as of late, the building became rundown, not seeing use for about a decade.
The owner of the Larchwood Inn property, Roland Fiore, could not be reached prior to the printing of today’s Narragansett Times. Fiore made the move to demolish after a lengthy municipal process, which saw the town’s planning board award approval to raze the building to make way for a 72-bed, Post Acute Partner’s Alzheimer’s facility on the grounds, only to revoke that approval shortly after because an abutting town resident was not notified of the decision. In between the revocation, the planning board received new membership, and, in a split vote, denied the application to allow the Alzheimer’s facility on the Larchwood grounds. After, the decision was brought before the planning board of appeals, which upheld the planning board’s decision in yet another split vote.
Following the decision, in June, Fiore filed a complaint in superior court that alleged a procedural error on the part of the part of the planning board during the decision process, citing a reliance on an “out-of-scale” model of the building constructed from clay by a town resident. Also included in the civil action were allegations that the planning board required more information from the applicant that exceeded what is necessary for a master plan stage of review; that the planning board illegally imposed zoning requirements on the project for historic preservation and that the planning board imposed dimensional standards on the facility in excess of local zoning ordinances.
It would appear that Fiore has gone ahead with plans to demolish the building, after obtaining a permit to do so back in March.
The Narragansett Times spoke to Karen daSilva, a member of South Kingtown’s Historic District Commission, regarding the ongoing demolition.
“South Kingstown in particular is an area filled with many historic properties and landmarks that obviously predate all of us,” she began. “I think these properties and landmarks need stewards and guardians so that future generations can enjoy them. From the Historic District Commission, obviously we have a primary focus and its targeted, but we serve in our positions because we have a unique interest in historic preservation. It’s a sad day for Wakefield, it’s a sad day for South County and it’s a sad day for Rhode Island unfortunately that we weren’t able to preserve it and be that gateway to Wakefield.”
With reports from Benjamin Branchaud.