Dr. John DiTraglia intends to try every way possible to preserve history in the area of the former Babcock building on Sixth Street in Portsmouth. Demolition has been going on since DiTraglia purchased the property from the city of Portsmouth.
“I really don’t have any plans for what I’m going to do with it yet,” DiTraglia said. “I figured if I build it they’ll come. It’s a really, really old building, so I’m going to try to preserve it.”
An archway (doorway) is almost all that remains of one part of the complex, and DiTraglia says he wants to maintain it as a decoration on the property and utilize the rest of the bricks for the parking lot to be environmentally friendly and doesn’t have runoff.
Rumors had been that DiTraglia had plans to turn the building into a new clinic. He says those are not his plans.
“That’s too tiny,” DiTraglia said. “I’m not sure what I will use it for, but probably someone could use it for a small office of some sort.”
DiTraglia said he wants to make sure the facade is stable before completing his plan to leave it as a decoration on the property.
“I saw the story on Dr. Babcock today (Tuesday),” DiTraglia said. “He was in it forever and ever and he just built on that new part. But the other part is really old. I think someone said it was as old as the 1810 House. It’s not anything exotic, just a simple square building.”
Opened in 1916, Babcock Eye Care is celebrating four generations of family and 100 years of business this month. They moved from the Sixth Street location to 721 Seventh Street when they swapped properties with the city. The new building was constructed in 2008 and the practice moved in 2009. The Sixth Street building has been vacant since then.
“It’s really in good shape. The roof doesn’t leak and I have to kind of sandblast it and tuck point it,” DiTraglia said. “And then just put some basic things inside like electric and water. So that’s the plan and it’s in the works.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.