A 130-year-old piece of Salisbury named a local historic landmark

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, March 28, 2023

SALISBURY — Preserving history can lead to a better understanding of how the present came to be and where the future is heading. That can come from retaining knowledge, but also places and buildings that have survived the passage of time. For Eugene and Christine Goetz, it means making sure the home that they live in continues to be a constant reminder of how much Salisbury has evolved over the years.

Last week, the Salisbury City Council voted to make the Mary Steele Scales House located at 126 East Steele Street a local historic landmark. Eugene called the whole process “Daunting, but we’re here after four years.”

The house was built in 1893 by George Barber, a famous architect who was known for designing houses through mail-order. Salisbury ultimately chose this house to be a historic landmark based on the special significance that Barber designed it and that it fits into all seven required aspects of integrity. The house still has original shelves, fireplaces and staircase.

Eugene and Christine first came across the house 20 years while living in New Mexico after reading an issue of Country Living magazine. “We just saw this house and we just fell in love with this place looking at it and then we forgot all about it,” Eugene said.

When they decided to move to Salisbury, they saw it again on a website for sale and bought it. They moved in 2015 and Eugene would later join the historic preservation commission where they first learned about the house’s importance. When they applied for the landmark status, they focused on the Steele family history, but were told that the George Barber connection would be the actual reason for it to be preserved.

While doing their own research to present to the city, the Goetzes made several new friends and discovered Christine is actually related to Mary Steeles Scales.

The city of Salisbury did not ignore what a huge undertaking the Goetzes went through and pointed that out when speaking to council during the hearing.

“It is certainly not for the faint of heart, it’s a very long and arduous process,” Planning Director Hannah Jacobson said. “I think that the dedication and commitment, that level of research really shows through.”

Even with the designation of it as a landmark, the house isn’t finished being remodeled. The house is already in a historic district which has certain requirements for owners to maintain. The Goetzes chose to have the interior and exterior of the house as a landmark because “We wanted to protect the house.”

It can be trying dealing with all of the different commissions and organizations, but it’s worth it for the Goetzes because they want to make sure that their house will last and never turn into something it was never supposed to be.

“The effort is to maintain the sense of history that this town has,” Eugene said. “We want the people who own this house in the future to be bound by that same thing. We want the house to remain as it is.”

“It had to do with preserving history and because that’s been our interest forever,” Christine said.

They soon plan on the house being painted, windows replaced and have the porch redone. To help with some of the costs, the Goetzes will apply for small grants. The Goetzes are committed to keeping what makes Salisbury special especially with new developments planned that will alter the landscape of the area. These landmarks act as an anchor to a part Salisbury that may no longer be around, but will never be forgotten.

“We’re very committed to Salisbury now…We really want to be a part of the community and have people know that we’re real people and that we care about everybody and that this is a way of sharing that,” Christine said.