Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preservation Update: Hawthorne and Rooster's (Survival Center) Properties

In a characteristically thorough deliberation lasting for some two and a half hours, the Amherst Historical Commission ruled on two important demolition cases.

First, the Commission resumed and concluded its deliberations on the demolition applications for three structures on the Hawthorne Farm property recently acquired by the town under the Community Preservation Act.  The majority of the property is to be used for Open Space and Recreation (primarily, playing fields, with possibilities for multi-generational and passive recreation), but the western end of the parcel, on which the structures are located, is to be dedicated to affordable housing, whether through adaptive reuse of the existing farmhouse, or through new construction.  Town staff have explained that they view the demolition application as part of their due diligence:  keeping options open and seeking the expert opinion of the Commission.  At a recent public hearing, abutters and others expressed strong support for efforts to save the farmhouse.  The Commission found all three structures to be historically significant but tabled a decision on the demolition application, as such, until tonight.

Second, the Commission held a public hearing on the proposal by the Amherst Survival Center to demolish a mid-nineteenth-century barn. The Center is relocating its operations from the former North Amherst School to the site of the former Rooster's Restaurant.  It plans to retain the existing house and to add new construction to the south, on the site of the existing barn.

The Commission decided as follows:

in the case of:

DDA2011-0004,-0005,-0006 235 East Pleasant Street [Hawthorne Farm]
Request to demolish one (1) c. 1830s vernacular Greek Revival farmhouse; one (1) c. 1850s barn; and one (1) c. 1950s barn. (note:  these are the official designations in the application; actual dates may vary)

1) to impose a 12-month delay on demolition of the farmhouse.
The Commission further attached the following conditions that, if met, could allow the delay to be lifted earlier:
  • Applicant (the Town) provide cost estimates for new construction, to be shared with both the Historical Commission and Community Preservation Act Committee.
  • Any eventual demolition would entail either relocation of the structure or salvage and reuse of its materials.
  • Any eventual replacement structure should employ massing, materials, etc. similar to those of the original house.
2) to impose a 12-month delay on demolition of the large barn.

3) to allow demolition of the small horse barn.

in the case of:

DDA2011-0009 138 Sunderland Road (Map5A-26) [former Rooster's Restaurant]
Request to demolish a c. 1853 timber frame barn.

To permit demolition, on the condition that the applicant return to report on the possibility of (in order of priority):
  • incorporating the barn into the plans for new construction, or
  • moving the structure, intact, to a new location on the property, or
  • arranging for relocation of the structure off-site, or
  • re-use of structural elements, preferably on-site

Full story to follow soon.

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