The Mother Bailey House in Groton celebrates one of the leading ladies of the Revolutionary War era who also played a role in the War of 1812. During the latter conflict, Anna Warner Bailey offered her flannel petticoat to officers manning nearby Fort Griswold who needed the material for their cannons facing the Thames River to ward off the British.
Groton ― The city again is seeking proposals from potential buyers for the Mother Bailey House property, after previous attempts to sell the property did not work out.
Mayor Keith Hedrick said the city is trying to get the property back on the tax rolls.
The City Council declared the city-owned historical home on 0.15 acres at 108 Thames Street “surplus property” in 2019.
Residents previously rejected spending additional funds on renovating the home and a local group’s fundraising effort to preserve the house was unsuccessful.
The request for proposals released on July 28, said the “ideal outcome is to see the home on 108 Thames Street renovated, restoring it to reflect the historic architectural style” with appropriate details, windows and materials.
Hedrick said the only stipulation is that the 18th century structure, also known as the Mother Anna Warner House, can’t be demolished. The property is located in the Waterfront Business Residence District, a zone that allows a mix of residential and commercial uses.
The house is a contributing property to the Groton Bank National Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.
The 2012 Capital Needs Assessment prepared for the city said the house is believed to have been constructed in 1782 under the direction of Dr. Amos Prentice. The two story, center hall Colonial “has seen various uses over its 230 year lifespan, including use as a private residence, an inn and tavern, as host to an early post office, and again as a single family residence,“ according to the assessment.
The city made repairs to stabilize the house after purchasing it in 2010. But in 2016, when the city proposed re-purposing some of the city’s unspent bond money toward repairing the house and other new projects, city residents voted down the proposal at a freeman’s meeting.
A local group, the Friends of the Mother Bailey House Foundation, solicited donations to preserve the house and create displays and a visitors center at the home, but didn’t raise enough funds for the project. Anna Warner Bailey, or “Mother Bailey,” was a “heroine of the Revolution and the Battle of 1812,” the Friends group said in a brochure.
The City Council in 2019 then decided to declare the property as “surplus” and seek proposals for it. City officials have said the responses to the initial request did not meet the city’s requirements, so the city went through the process again.
Hedrick said three respondents to the original request ultimately decided to back out of purchasing the property, so the city’s Real Estate Committee decided to go back to the drawing board.
A public hearing was held last year on a proposal to sell the Mother Bailey House and adjacent property at 0 Broad Street for $1 to a local developer, FTTB LLC. The proposal was to spruce up the home according to historical standards and for residential use, and potentially build townhouse-style buildings on adjacent property at 0 Broad Street. The city was requiring a performance bond.
Frank Jennette, president of FTTB LLC., said Friday that the company had a performance bond in place. The bond sets aside money to restore or refurbish the house in the event the contractor is unable to complete the project or walks away and leaves the project in an unstable condition.
He said the city kept coming back to raise the cost of the bond and the city’s Real Estate Committee put too many stipulations on the purchase. He said he understood the historic preservation component, but there were too many other stipulations.
Hedrick said the performance bond requirements and the stipulations on materials and products to refurbish the house were consistent among all three applicants that replied to the RFP.
The new request will not require a performance bond, he said. It also does not include the 0 Broad Street property, which the city will retain. The city’s Real Estate Committee has not yet decided what to do with the 0 Broad Street property.
According to the timeline published in the new request, the proposals for the Mother Bailey House are due 3 p.m. on Sept. 12 and the city will review them that month. A recommendation will be made to the City Council in September or October.
The property is valued at $142,000, according to an appraisal requested by the city.
Hedrick said the 18th century house will need renovation, including addressing its foundation, evaluating electrical and plumbing systems, and replacing windows.