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2005 Massachusetts’ Most Endangered Historic Resources List

2005 Massachusetts’ Most Endangered Historic Resources List

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Established in 1993, the Massachusetts’ Most Endangered Historic Resources Program is one of our most important preservation advocacy and education tools. Local groups or individuals who are deeply concerned about the potential loss of these significant resources nominate sites from across the state. The list is one of the first steps in focusing statewide attention on the condition of these historic resources and their importance to communities, and often serves as a catalyst for extensive preservation opportunities.
The Most Endangered list at its core an advocacy and education “PR” program. Preservation Massachusetts utilizes our statewide visibility, resources and networks to promote the importance of these resources and work with the nominators and other involved parties to find a solution to the preservation challenge. Since the first listing in 1993, only 17 resources have been lost, over 40 completely saved and restored and many more progressing well on the long road back from the brink.

The Most Endangered list is announced each year at the Fall Preservation Event.
Established in 1993, the Massachusetts’ Most Endangered Historic Resources Program is one of our most important preservation advocacy and education tools. Local groups or individuals who are deeply concerned about the potential loss of these significant resources nominate sites from across the state. The list is one of the first steps in focusing statewide attention on the condition of these historic resources and their importance to communities, and often serves as a catalyst for extensive preservation opportunities.
The Most Endangered list at its core an advocacy and education “PR” program. Preservation Massachusetts utilizes our statewide visibility, resources and networks to promote the importance of these resources and work with the nominators and other involved parties to find a solution to the preservation challenge. Since the first listing in 1993, only 17 resources have been lost, over 40 completely saved and restored and many more progressing well on the long road back from the brink.

The Most Endangered list is announced each year at the Fall Preservation Event.

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Published by: Preservation Massachusetts on Dec 15, 2009
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2005 Ten Most Endangered

Resource Summaries
(Alphabetical by Community)

Auburn: Auburn High School
Auburn High School, designed by famous Worcester architect Lucius Wallace Briggs, was built in 1935. Using funds from “New Deal” programs, the use of high quality materials and exceptional craftsman ship was possible through government assistance during the Great Depression. Sitting atop a grassy embankment on a major thoroughfare in the community, Auburn High School retains much of its original grandeur and historic elements. The entire Auburn High School complex is slated to be demolished in 2006 when the new high school facility will open, located directly behind the current school. The land that the school stands on is currently planned for softball fields and of those fields invokes Title Nine conflicts. The Auburn School Reuse Committee was granted a three year window, ending in December of 2005, to find viable reuse scenarios for the original 1935 portion of the school. The committee has identified other locations for the disputed sports fields and feels the school could be reused for housing, community events or function space. In a community that has not retained much historic fabric, many feel the Auburn High School is deserving of a well considered future. For more information, please visit www.savethe35.org and help us save this last vestige of historic preservation in Auburn!

Boston-Beacon Hill: First John P. Coburn House
Situated in an enclosed courtyard blocked from public view, the First John. P. Coburn House is a two story Federal style brick house. Its small scale is evident of the early 19th architecture on Beacon Hill. John P. Coburn was a successful African-American businessman, an active abolitionist and prominent figure in the black community on Beacon Hill. He lived in this house from 1835 until 1843. The Coburn house represents a unique situation in preservation. The house is exempted from the city’s demolition delay ordinance because it would fall under review by the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission. It was further exempted from BHAC review because the house was not visible from a public way. Sitting vacant and deteriorating, 2005 Ten Most Endangered Historic Resources Resource Summaries 1

the present owner had obtained permits for a “rehabilitation” that completely erase any historic integrity on the building. Many in the community were unaware of the plight of the Coburn House due to its location. As preservationist prepared an early announcement of its inclusion on the 2005 Ten Endangered, worst fears were realized when the roof and second floors were removed and the interior gutted. This is a shocking reminder of the fragility of our historic resources. The First Coburn House stands as a reminder to all that buildings can fall through the cracks of preservation, even on Beacon Hill.

Gloucester: Rocky Neck
Rocky Neck began as an isolated sheep pasture that became a hub for marine industries, including the Gloucester Marine Railway, shipbuilders and sail lofts. On the eastern end the famed Tarr & Wonson Paint Manufactory became the first U.S maker of copper bottom paint for seafaring vessels. In the 1880’s artist began to flow to the Cape Ann region, making Rocky Neck home to one of the oldest continually working art colonies in the United States The threats to Rocky Neck are two-fold. First, a recent development plan for the Tarr & Wonson factory would turn it into a single family mansion that would demolish 70% of the factory buildings and do little to replicate its historic integrity. Secondly, increased demand for residential property along the waterfront is pushing out the artist’s housing and gallery space. Increased market rates that exclude the very people who contribute to the unique cultural character of Rocky Neck for over a century would ultimately lead to the demise of this seaside community. The Rocky Neck Art Colony wish for increased recognition of their fight to keep their community intact and educate a wider audience about their tangible historic links with Gloucester.

Haverhill: Bradford College Campus
The campus of Bradford College center around the “U” shaped quadrangle and encompass building styles from Second Empire to Colonial and Classical Revival. The college’s educational foundations go back to 1803, as co-ed secondary school Bradford Academy. Ultimately the school became the first accredited Junior College in 1932 and a full four-year college in 1971. The College officially closed in 2000. Some campus buildings, including Academy & Hasseltine Hall, are included in the Bradford Common Local and National Historic Districts and make up an essential part of the primarily residential neighborhood and community history. The campus was purchased by GFI Partners, Inc. in 2002 with the hopes of rehabilitation and resale to another educational facility and a promise of gifting the Kimball Tavern to 2005 Ten Most Endangered Historic Resources Resource Summaries 2

the Bradford College Alumni Association and Haverhill Historical Society. Presently the campus is vacant with no rehabilitation work and barely minimal maintenance. There is the fear that this neglect could ultimately lead to actual demolition if the buildings are left unattended for too long, or in an effort to make the parcel more appealing to potential buyers. The Haverhill Historic Society, partnered with the Bradford College Alumni Association and other community groups feel the buildings present tremendous opportunity for reuse and should be preserved as the community landmarks they are.

Jamaica Plain: Jabez Lewis Farmhouse
Built between 1822 and 1827, the Jabez Lewis Farmhouse is a two-story Federal style farmhouse. It is a testament to the agricultural roots of the communities surrounding urban Boston in the early 19th century. Sitting on land owned by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, the house is a component of the National Historic Site designation given to the Arboretum. The house is currently vacant and being overtaken by vegetation, but the largest threat seemed to come from within. A draft of a new Institutional Master Plan for the Arboretum cited the possible demolition of the Lewis Farmhouse to make way for a maintenance facility. The Arboretum stated they were exploring other options, including moving the house, restoration and reuse, but the projected costs were too high. Very recently, Harvard announced the cancellation of the maintenance facility project, due to public concerns about the fate of the house. But community groups, such as the Jamaica Hills association feel that the house is still not saved. The feel that it should be preserved as one of very few remaining examples of farmhouses in the Metro Boston area and that if left vacant, demolition by neglect would ultimately claim the Lewis Farmhouse.

New Bedford Fairhaven Mills # 4 /Bennett Mills
The Fairhaven Mills #4 originally known as Bennett Mills was constructed in 1892. At the height of the textile era New Bedford produced the largest amount of fine cotton in the country, with 82% of its population employed by 70 mills. From 1911 to1912, master photographer Lewis Hines photographed children working in the Fairhaven Mills as part of a nationwide documentation of child labor. His resulting work led Congress to enact the Child Labor Law in 1916. Currently Fairhaven Mills is structurally sound and occupied, however, the City Council voted in May 2005 to approve the demolition the Mill, beginning as early as spring 2006. In place of the mill a Home Depot will be constructed, consisting of a retail store and 2005 Ten Most Endangered Historic Resources Resource Summaries 3

future development of retail and restaurant space. Many in New Bedford, including WHALE, believe this project could work while still saving the mill, which provides many opportunities for reuse. In a city of mills, Fairhaven Mills stand s apart as a tangible link to the very foundations of the government and creation of the laws that shape the society we live in today.

Pittsfield: Samuel Harrison House
This small Greek Revival home was built by the Revered Samuel Harrison. Harrison, an African-American clergyman and longtime resident of Pittsfield, contributed an important voice to the philosophical and political debate over race relations throughout the 19th century. Harrison was also the chaplain for the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the “Glory” brigade of black soldiers during the Civil War. The house remained in Harrison’s family until it was given to the Samuel Harrison Society. Currently unoccupied, it is constantly threatened by vandalism, possible arson, dumping and vagrancy. Outright demolition is not a concern, but the Society and other interested citizens in Pittsfield feel the house could still be lost. The Society endeavors to restore the property and grounds for use as an educational tool to promote Harrison’s noble life, enduring beliefs and extraordinary writings. His house is an embodiment of his values in a tumultuous and radical time in our American history, the results of which changed the course of a nation.

Upton: Civilian Conservation Corps. Camp
The Civilian Conservation Corps. Camp SP25, located in Upton State Forest, is one of only five remaining examples of Corps. Camps in the state. Consisting of parade grounds, main building, barracks, as well as a cottage, this complex housed the corps member while they undertook local projects like Dean Dam, Park and Middle Road. In the 1940’s the Massachusetts State Guards used the site as Camp Stover and also as field headquarters for Massachusetts Fish and Game and Phillips’ Wildlife Lab through 1956. Currently the buildings are unoccupied and minimal maintenance is being done. Upton State Forest is a satellite of the Blackstone Heritage area and maintained by a small staff, with no budgeted funds specifically for the Upton camp. Main concerns about the camp are building failures due to weather conditions, as well as vandalism. There is an immediate need for an assessment survey of the various building conditions. Groups in the community see reuse possibilities ranging meeting spaces and classrooms for educational opportunities to showcase the history of the CCC and life at the camp.

2005 Ten Most Endangered Historic Resources Resource Summaries

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Wenham: Wenham Town Hall
The Town Hall, built in 1854, sits in the midst of Wenham Town Center, forming the crux of a local Historic District and an interesting architectural collection along Main Street. This two story wood frame structure sits atop a granite foundation and still retains many of the original architectural elements of the Italianate style. The building has served the town through a number of uses over the years, ranging from school rooms, housing the town library to social functions and selectman’s meetings. Due to lack of maintenance, town offices were moved in 222 and restoration estimates were more expensive than anticipated. Plans to demolish the Town Hall for a new facility including a police station were considered, but the Historic District Commission refused the demolition. Selectmen then proposed to exempt all town owned or leased properties from the District and the protection of the Commission. Such an act would have been a devastating precedent setting event and usurping of the Commission’s authority. Many local citizens were outraged and rallied behind saving the Town Hall. At a special town meeting in October of 2005, Preservation Massachusetts made an early announcement of the Town Hall’s inclusion on the Ten Endangered List. The recognition of the Town Hall, combined with the efforts of Citizens for an Affordable Restored Town Hall resulted in the voting down of demolition and approval of a restoration plan. The necessary work will make the Town Hall a true preservation success story.

Wilmington: Butters Farm
Butters Farm, or the William Butters II Farmhouse, was originally built between 1682 and 1690, evolving as it was continuously lived in for over 320 years. It is believed to be the second oldest house in Wilmington. The Butters family were some of the town’s earliest settlers and their farm saw the discovery of the Baldwin Apple in the late eighteenth century. Butters Farm is part of a larger parcel of property being sold to a developer with plans to demolish the house to make way for new construction. The town has the option to purchase the house at the market rate or $450,000, with the decision deadline extended until June of 2006. The developer has also offered to donate the house if it will be moved from the site, however many in the town feel that the location is just as important as the house. No decisions have been made on how to secure funding for the purchase or move of the house. The Historic Commission, along with other townspeople, feel the house 2005 Ten Most Endangered Historic Resources Resource Summaries 5

should be saved due to its historic ties with the beginnings of Wilmington. Reuse scenarios include renovation and maintenance as a museum, or renovation and rental options that would keep the house and intact for the community.

2005 Ten Most Endangered Historic Resources Resource Summaries

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