The Amherst Historical Commission gave property owner You-Pan Tzeng permission to demolish a barn with alleged ties to American poet Robert Frost at his 290 Lincoln Ave. property last month.
Tzeng said in a phone interview that he purchased the property over the summer, and as far as he knows, the barn was sitting empty before he bought it.
Tzeng currently owns the barn.
“Actually, the barn cannot be seen if you drive down,” Tzeng said. “It’s not in a prominent spot unless you were looking for it.”
According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Warren Brown, a friend of Robert Frost, built the house and the barn in the early 1900s.
Despite the friendship, there is no proof that Frost ever used the barn for his writing. The only indications are remarks made by real estate agents selling the property in recent years.
Tzeng denied claims that Frost had worked there.
“The previous owner several generations ago … was Robert Frost’s friend,” Tzeng said. “His grandson told me clearly that (the barn) has nothing to do with Robert Frost.”
The Historical Commission agreed with Tzeng, going line-by-line in the claim and voting no on all of the items claiming the barn had any historical significance.
Tzeng said he hopes to have the barn down before the start of winter because he fears of another snowstorm like the one that occurred last October. He views the barn as a liability, especially with the family living in it.
“It’s not serving any purpose, and I would like to exercise my right to take it down,” he said. “I have been going through the proper procedure to get the permits. I can’t tell you exactly when (it will be taken down), but I will just observe the process and the requirements.”
Tzeng rejected any claims that the barn is structurally sound.
“Even though the centerpiece has proven sound, the attachment on the side is kind of slap-on,” he said. “I would like to take it down systematically so that I don’t run into any problems.”
Tzeng attributes the mass panic over the demolition of the barn to the neighborhood’s unwillingness to rent to college students and their fear that Tzeng’s property will one day become a residence for wayward University of Massachusetts students.
“When they heard, ‘Oh okay, this guy might be developing it, this guy might be making it student rental,’ they came out in droves and they tried to do anything they can, slap anything that’s not related onto it,” Tzeng said.
Tzeng said he is unsure what to do with the property after the barn is taken down, but also commented that the community of Amherst will have to do something about the overflow of students from UMass looking for housing.
“Eventually, it will be student rental, just by pure economic reason,” he said.
Tzeng said that UMass is the only powerhouse moving Amherst forward, and if the day ever comes that UMass is not able to provide adequate housing on campus, it is the community’s responsibility to provide adequate housing for the students.
Patrick Hoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.