Over the past two years, the Town of Dighton’s Community Preservation Commission has taken advantage of the advice and technical assistance provided by our Circuit Rider program to help complete its first Community Preservation Act-funded historic preservation project and to launch a second one.
Early in 2016, Circuit Rider for Eastern Massachusetts, Jeffrey Gonyeau, began consulting with Dighton CPC chair, Tim Rhines, on preservation work proposed for the c.1770 Winslow-Davis House. Owned by the Town, it serves as the headquarters of the Dighton Historical Society, which also maintains it. Given that this was to be the Town’s first preservation project using CPA funds, the CPC, members of the Historical Society, and Town officials were very interested in “getting it right,” making sure that the work reflected high preservation standards and met both the requirements and the spirit of the CPA.
Prior to the CPC’s approval of the project, Jeff toured the building with the folks from Dighton, talking through the proposed scope of work—which was to include comprehensive exterior repairs, structural upgrades, the installation of A/C-humidity control to help preserve the Society’s collections, and even a new septic system and re-worked parking area—advising on approaches to the work and materials choices to help make sure they were historically sensitive and followed the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. The project ultimately received CPA funding and the completed work was unveiled during a celebration on July 1st. The result is a wonderful success, and the Historical Society has both vastly improved the facilities in which it runs its programs along with modelling an excellent example of preservation work on a highly-visible building in town.
Energized by this success, CPC Chair Tim Rhines reached out again late this summer about a project proposed for the c.1837 Segregansett School House. The Dighton Historical Commission is seeking CPA funds to rehabilitate this well-preserved building which, despite its diminutive size, has a great street presence and is important to the town’s history.
Jeff toured the schoolhouse in October to discuss the scope of work and provide advice on appropriate materials choices, as well as on ways to incorporate some accessibility enhancements. Based on this meeting, the group is poised to embark on yet another successful CPA-funded preservation project that will both preserve an important historic site in Dighton while making it more functional and able to be enjoyed by the residents of the town.
In acknowledging PM's help, Mr. Rhines noted that "Jeff was instrumental in providing us with the various resources that are available to be utilized in our undertaking." Further, he believes that, supported by the Circuit Rider expertise, future CPA projects in Dighton "...will come to fruition and we will be able to continue to rehabilitate and refurbish our rich history."
Both of these projects in Dighton illustrate idea that, when a sound preservation project is proposed, sometimes all it takes to provide the final momentum to proceed is a bit of validation from an objective but sympathetic outside voice. This is a great use of our Circuit Riders’ expertise, and we encourage other communities to follow the thoughtful and thorough process demonstrated by the Dighton Community Preservation Commission, which has resulted in two preservation success stories!