Last month, the Western Massachusetts Historic Commissions Coalition held a meeting in Great Barrington on the topic of Adaptive Reuse of Historic Churches. Fittingly held in St. James Place (a restored and converted historic church), attendees heard about several model projects and ask questions of the speakers, including Partners for Sacred Places. Learn more about the speakers below and (best of all), visit our presentation archive to view the presentations for yourself.
Many thanks to all of our speakers, and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission for hosting. Visit the WMHCC page to learn more about upcoming meetings and topics.
Presentation Archive - Select the WMHCC folder and scroll to June, 2019 to view the presentations.
Joshua Castaño, Partners for Sacred Places
Joshua joined Partners for Sacred Places in 2013, and now leads Partners' community engagement consulting services, capacity-building training programs and community-based fundraising services. He has worked with congregations across the nation, as well as communities seeking to reuse historic houses of worship. Joshua began his career in historic preservation serving the City of Paterson, NJ. In his role within the Division of Historic Preservation he helped to build partnerships between historic congregations and public institutions, with a particular focus on heritage tourism. There, he also developed a variety of heritage-based public education programs and provided critical support and public advocacy for the local landmark designation of historic congregations and threatened historic sites. In addition to Partners, Joshua also presents topics and research regularly on the architectural and social history of religious design. Joshua earned a BA in Art History from Oberlin College.
Sally Harris, Saint James Place, Great Barrington
Sally Harris, President and co-founder of Saint James Place, Inc. has a long career of service in the non-profit sector locally and nationally. After becoming the first woman and youngest member to chair the Manhattan Advisory Board of The Salvation Army in New York City, she was invited to join the National Advisory Board where she is entering her 22nd year of service. She currently serves on the board of The Independent Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan, scholarly research and educational organization based in Oakland, California. She has served as trustee of the Spence School and Episcopal School, Partners for Sacred Places, and as Vice Chairman of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.
Sally Harris received her BFA in Theatre from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. In 1981, Sally produced a feature film, adapting the early feminist novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin into a feature film entitled The End of August. It was purchased by the BBC and premiered in London. Sally has three grown children, two grandsons and lives in Great Barrington with her husband Fred Harris. Sally and Fred established Saint James Place Inc. in 2010, with assistance from Bob Jaeger of Partners for Sacred Places, who presented a vision to save the 1857 Church and repurpose the buildings as a cultural center.
Paul Ivory, Clinton Church Restoration, Great Barrington
Paul Ivory is chairman of the Great Barrington Historical Commission and a member of the Clinton Church Restoration building committee. As the longtime director of Chesterwood, the summer estate of sculptor Daniel Chester French, Ivory was instrumental in the development of one of the Berkshire’s most important National Historic Landmarks. During his 30-year tenure, he managed the property’s 5,700-piece object collection (including the largest assemblage of works by a single American sculptor) and 100,000-piece archive, 10 buildings and 122 acres of formal gardens, grounds and woodland walks and 35,000 annual visitors. Ivory oversaw exhibitions, building and landscape restoration, conservation and interpretive programs, and a capital campaign. He served subsequently as interim executive director for the National Trust of Historic Preservation and since 2002 has been a museum and grant writing consultant. He has been a frequent lecturer on historic sites and has served on the boards of many nonprofits.
Eugenie Sills, Clinton Church Restoration, Great Barrington
Eugenie Sills is interim executive director of Clinton Church Restoration and principal of TWT Media, a digital strategy and business consultancy. Prior to becoming a consultant, Eugenie spent nearly two decades as founder and publisher of the award-winning regional publication, The Women’s Times. She is the co-founder of the biannual festival Lift Ev’ry Voice: Celebrating African American Heritage and Culture in the Berkshires and has served on the boards of many nonprofits.
Paul Joffe, Flying Church, Great Barrington
Paul Joffe has been working in construction for 40 years. He is a sculptor and painter whose work has been exhibited in Manhattan at the Tenant Gallery in the East Village, The Drawing Center in SoHo, and at the Lyman Allen Art Museum in New London Ct. Since the late 1990’s Paul has been buying, converting, and managing buildings built in the 1800’s. He is currently working and living in Great Barrington but has also renovated and converted many buildings in New York City. Mr. Joffe has experience in all disciplines of construction including construction finance and management, masonry, plumbing, electrical, low voltage control systems, carpentry, structural repair, roofing, trucking, rigging, hoisting, and as a steeplejack. He previously restored a church and 200-foot steeple in Kingston, New York in slate, copper, and gold leaf. Mr. Joffe holds a class A commercial driver’s license, instrument rated seaplane pilot’s license, hoisting engineer license, and a radio-telephone operators license.