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Reconnecting: Past, Present & Future

Do you remember the feeling you had the last time you heard from your college roommate? Received a call from your cousin? Got an email from a former student? Calls, emails, Facebook posts, holiday letters, are some of the many ways we hear from those who are fellow travelers on the road of life. Friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors are all part of our world and we value those connections. News of the purchase of a new house, birth of a child, graduation of a grandchild, loss of a parent, are all part of life. We care to hear the news, because we have a common connection and we share the joys, commiserate with the challenges and mourn the losses.

For us at Preservation Massachusetts, we connect with people across the Commonwealth who care passionately about their communities. Often, they are contacting us to ask for advice, looking for information, or for support. Often, we hear the beginning of a story and sometimes we hear how things turned out. Was the issue resolved? Did the municipality find a new use for the building? Was the roof repaired? How did the story end?

Sometimes we are fortunate enough to hear the next chapter in the story. We would like to share with you some of the updates we have received recently about properties that have been listed on our Most Endangered Historic Resources List (MEHR) in previous years. This year, we will once again be accepting nominations throughout the summer. The announcement of this year’s list will be made in the fall.

The MEHR List is at its core an advocacy and education PR program. We utilize our statewide visibility, resources and networks to promote the importance of listed resources and work with nominators and other involved parties to find a solution to the challenge in a positive and cooperative manner.

Good News from Granby, Holliston and Amherst:

Granby: Kellogg Hall was listed on the MEHR List in 2014. This formerly, municipally owned, Queen Anne style building was constructed in 1889 and served as the Town Hall and High School. The Granby Preservation Society (GPS) now owns the building. Gary Phelps, President of the GPS emailed to let us know, “This was an exciting and exhausting month. We are approximately halfway through the exterior painting of Kellogg Hall. We are still hoping to finish the exterior during the 250th year celebration of Granby's history. All we need to do is raise another $40,000. “Granby will celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2018. Billy Monahan of Northeast Painting Associates was kind enough to share his photos with us. Donations to assist with the painting can be sent to G.P.S. at PO BOX 1021, Granby, MA 01033. All donations are tax deductible. For more information click here.

Photo Credit: Billy Monahan, Northeast Painting Associates, North Hampton, Ma.

Holliston: Bogastow Brook Viaduct (Also known as the 8 Arch Bridge) was listed on the MEHR List in 2014. Advocates Mary Greendale and Robert Weidknecht on behalf of the Holliston Trails Committee nominated this structure. The Bogastow Brook Viaduct was constructed in 1846 by Irish Immigrants to serve the Boston and Worcester Railroad. After years of limited use, the bridge had deteriorated and was in disrepair.

Recently Mary Greendale emailed to give us an update. She shared, “I believe that getting on the "endangered list" was the catalyst for our efforts. We used that distinction as the reason for giving - to prove the need - and raised $40,000 that became the seed money for the entire project. We hired the engineers who determined that the bridge was solid and not at risk of collapse. With all our efforts and fundraising, the project became front and center and with the engineers' report in-hand, the article passed Town Meeting. We used our CPA funds to do the construction. It is well underway and will be finished in May. “The recently completed and restored bridge is part of the Upper Charles Trail a proposed 25-mile trail that links five communities via an abandoned CSX rail bed.

This year on July 4th (the date that the first train arrived in town in 1847) there will be a celebration in Holliston to celebrate the completion of the work on the bridge. To learn more, click here:

Photos Courtesy of Mary Greendale

Amherst: The Campus of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, was listed to the MEHR in 2007. The listing included several historic buildings on the flagship campus, including the iconic and historic Old Chapel. The nomination was made by Preserve UMass and Corresponding Secretary Joseph Larson recently sent this update:

“It has been eleven years since 4 persons representing alumni, staff, and faculty met on Patriot’s Day 2007 on the Amherst campus in the 1728 Stockbridge House to form Preserve UMass. Our goal was to call public attention to the need for a professional approach to preservation and maintenance of the many historic assets of the Amherst Campus, its buildings, gardens and landscapes. There are three entities today that have oversight of construction on the campus: the campus administration, the UMass Building Authority, and the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Administration (DCAMM). Today on the Amherst campus we have a Chancellor, upper administration, and Physical Plant leadership who actively support this goal. The UMass Building Authority has responded in a similar fashion. DCAMM remains “a work in progress”.

Over 100 UMass buildings are now on the state Inventory of Historic and Archaeological Assets of the Commonwealth. Three or four additional historic landscapes are still in the process of being nominated for state listing by Preserve UMass. We are currently considering nomination of selected state listed buildings to the National Register. None of this progress would have been possible without the encouragement of all of you who have been our supporters. Thank you.”

The listing in 2007 was a spark that lit the fuse for Preserve UMass and their efforts to preserve the flagship campus for the university. For more information click here:

Photo courtesy of Preserve UMass

Not So Great News from Weston and Hyannis:

Weston: The William Loring Young House in Weston was listed on the MEHR in 2014. This 1877 shingle style mansion was designed by William Ralph Emerson and the grounds were designed by the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted. The Weston Historic Commission nominated the property. Town meeting approved $250,000 in Community Preservation Funds toward a preservation restriction on the property and offer the owners flexible zoning on the site. In December 2015 the house was demolished, but not before being thoroughly documented, and 3-D laser scanned. Those records are now part of the Historical Commission’s archive. Read about the demolition here.

Photos Courtesy of the Weston Historical Commission

Hyannis, Barnstable: Sea Captains Row, a street of historic homes in Hyannis, was listed on the MEHR in 2016. The street, running from Main Street down to the harbor, hearkens back to the rich maritime history of Hyannis and Cape Cod. The integrity of the streetscape was still intact despite years of deferred maintenance and the use of surrounding residential yards as parking spaces for customers of the nearby island ferries. In late 2017 the proposed development that sought to demolish the historic homes to build new housing was approved. Local advocates continue to work to find ways to convey the history of Sea Captains Row.Read about the project and Sea Captains Row here.

Photos Courtesy of the Keepers of Sea Captains Row

Ongoing Challenges in Worcester...

Notre Dame des Canadines in Worcester was listed on the MEHR in 2016. This Neo-Romanesque Church in the heart of the city’s downtown has been vacant since 2007. The demolition delay on the property has expired and the owner is currently in the process of demolition, starting with abatement. Community members and the Save Notre Dame Alliance are still hopeful that a re-use and financing plan for the church can be presented to the owner, who will consider fair and reasonable offers from investors until the serious dismantling begins.

Read about Notre Dame here:

Located just down the street, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church was also listed on the MEHR in 2016. The church was closed in 2016 due to structural issues as I-290, a raised highway, passes just feet from the property. The congregation rallied to raise funds to repair and re-open the church, yet the Diocese of Worcester claims that the church is beyond saving and wishes to sell the property for development. Members of the parish and supporters have created their own preservation organization and continue to raise funds and awareness about saving and re-opening the church, despite the action of the Diocese which filed for a demolition permit in April 2018. Read about it here:

Whether the news is good or bad, keeping up to date on the status of our Most Endangered Historic Resources is important, for the program and preservation efforts statewide. Success and failure both offer learning opportunities and even when the outlook is most bleak, a silver lining. Taking the good news with the bad news is part of life, for it ultimately makes us more aware and appreciative of what we have, and what we have lost.

If you have an update on a Most Endangered Historic Resource, please contact our office and share your news.

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