Historical Commission meeting

Monday, February 14, 7:00 pm until 8:30 pm
A meeting of the Historical Commission

Meeting of Historical Commission

Members: (Quorum)

  • Present: Ann Tweedy, at 7:00 PM
  • Present: Sara Robinson, at 7:00 PM
  • Present: Susan Mareneck, Chair, at 7:00 PM
  • Present: Susan Lynton, at 7:00 PM
  • Present: Anne Schuyler, at 7:00 PM
  • Present: Eva Gibavic, at 7:00 PM

Also Present:

  • Linda Whiting
  • Carol Heim
  • Dawn Marvin Ward

See original Agenda Approved Meeting Minutes

Meeting opened: 7:05 PM

Meeting closed: 10:21 PM

  1. Meeting Preliminaries

  2. Access to Historical Commission monthly meeting - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86125147556

    • SM contact - leveretthistoryinfo@gmail.com Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86125147556 Meeting ID: 861 2514 7556 Since the state will allow virtual meetings to continue until 4/22, the LHC plans to hold a virtual meeting on zoom until further notice.

  3. Preservation Planning for Historical Assets

    • Industrial History programming - UPDATE on "A Sense of Where You Are: Getting to Know Leverett's Industrial Past' Virtual and in-person tours to Leverett's historic industrial landscape and sites." Brushy Mtn. industries - mills, charcoal, other industries to finish out current grant? Research on Signage Program, Embodied History to begin? Follow-up on CPC request?

      General Discussion...
      Ann Tweedy reiterated what we had heard from Stuart Saginor, ED of the Community Preservation Coalition, who spoke at the 2/2/22 meeting of Leverett's Community Preservation Commission, that "oral histories" are not technically allowed to be funded if they are "new" material being created. The "embodied history" that we are proposing to include in the "A Sense of Where You Are" programming would comprise adding the experience of tradespeople who worked in the local industries with historic materials and tools. Their relation to place, archaic materials and ways of working will enliven the historic record on our industrial heritage, not create a separate (new) project. We will revise the proposal to explain these as "witness statements".

      Ann also explained that Stuart encouraged "dialogue" with the Coalition. She also said that from what she heard, it was "up to the local town to define what is important to them". Other points made were: (Susan Lynton) "funds can be given out throughout the year", "Administrative funds (a separate category of CPA funds) can be used for planning".

      1. Revised_February_2022_ASoWYA_2022-2023_Grant_proposal_Leverett_Historical_Commission_Final.pdf
    • LHS Collection Inventory - UPDATE - Moore's Corner Schoolhouse and Field Family Museum collections of the Leverett Historical Society inventoried and digitized.

      General Discussion...
      Eva reported that the inventory/digitization of the Leverett Historical Society collections project, which started in the Moore's Corner Schoolhouse in the fall, assisted by two UMASS grad students, has moved its operations to the Field Family Museum (aka Leverett History Museum) where the heat is better. Working with Dawn Ward from the Leverett Historical Society, Ann Tweedy and Eva, they are close to completing the LHS collections at the Moore's Corner Schoolhouse. The new computer has arrived and a new student from UMASS Public History program is joining the team. They have met with Edie Field, curator of the FFM, to be introduced to the layout and collections, which are also technically under the auspices of the LHS. The former Field Library building is still owned by the town, though the LHS has been contributing to the upkeep, sharing the expenses of heat, electricity, insurance and maintenance. In essence it has been a public/private partnership over the past decade.

    • Slarrow Sawmill and other prominent historic properties - UPDATE - Select Board's ad hoc committee on question of accepting ownership of North Leverett (Slarrow - Kirley) Sawmill and Dam property. Discuss Historical Commission role in proposal for a "stakeholder alliance" to restore and repurpose town's historic properties. Discuss CPA and other potential funding. What is needed to complete the CPC application?

      General Discussion...
      The question that the 2/2/22 Community Preservation Commission meeting with Stuart Saginor addressed relative to the proposal by the Historical Society and Historical Commission to restore significant historic buildings in two of Leverett's village centers, centered on ownership. The buildings are owned by two separate entities: the nonprofit corporation of the Leverett Historical Society and the town-owned Field Family Museum, though they have been used and run under the auspices of the Leverett Historical Society for over a decade. Nevertheless, a municipal building must adhere to state procurement and prevailing wage laws and regulations. A privately-owned building has more latitude in terms of public use.

      The other issue is timing. One proposal posits two "phases": Phase I would be planning for restoration of the building shells; Phase II would focus on how the buildings would be used; interior design. Phase I would happen in the 2022-23 year. It would be contingent upon the town putting the Field Library/Museum building out for public bid with language restrictive enough to require that the bidders be " a non-profit corporation that would maintain the functioning museum currently in the building, free and open to the public, etc..". The decision would be requested of town meeting on April 30, 2022. It would be on the town meeting warrant earlier in the order than the CPC proposal for the restoration proposal approval, but would still require 45 days before the bidding could close. In this scenario, the LHS would bid to take ownership of the Field Library/Museum building. If successful, and if the town approved the "restoration proposal" for the two properties, the restoration would begin. In order to preserve buildings that are in a previously unrecognized state of decay and to have renovated properties ready to be celebrated by the 250th Anniversary year 2024, this proposal emphasizes the need to move forward now.

      In order to oversee this project, the current leadership of the Historical Society has appointed a "Project Committee" comprised of LHS members (a few of whom are also Historical Commission members) that will oversee the execution of the grant. A local developer experienced in preservation work ( advised of the Sec. of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines) has offered to manage the project pro-bono. Three local contractors have bid on the job. Their bids have been adjusted to include current inflationary pressures on materials. The proponents have been advised that waiting another year would add to the cost and uncertainty of availability of labor, as well as making it impossible to complete interior as well as exterior work before 2024.

      Beginning in March 2022 and continuing during the year while exterior restoration work is occurring, the "Project Committee" proposes working with the architectural firm, MASS Design Group, who have extensive experience working with communities in the US and abroad to design programming that serves the needs of the community and the particular issue in question - for instance, "how do we institute programming in two renovated museums that both preserves the collections, maintains the buildings and invigorates community participation?" An initial idea that one site could be for collections research and the other could be a living history venue with ongoing programming, has been floated in this proposal but is still in the suggestion realm.

      A second point of view is to separate the current proposal into two parts (as recommended by Stuart
      Saginor if the two buildings remain separately owned) with the Historical Society proposing the restoration of the Moore's Corner Schoolhouse this year (since it is purportedly in the most precarious structural state) basically following the "Project Committee"'s proposal above and the Historical Commission applying for a planning grant from the CPC to study the possibilities for the Field Library/Museum over the next year. The argument was made that this approach would be the most logical, since there were still unanswered questions about legal requirements, for publicly owned entities which would be open to the public, whether the Historical Society (LHS) was a viable entity to oversee the restoration grant and if they would be able to support future maintenance and programming.

      After considerable discussion on the motion to separate the proposals, it became clear that though there were misgivings about whether there was a comprehensive knowledge of regulations, competency of the LHS "Project Committee", legitimacy of the bids, risk involved in town property bidding process, that there was not an alternate proposal for the preservation of the Field Library/Museum by either the LHS, LHC or any individual, that the motion originally offered (which was defeated 3 N/2 Y/1 A), "to divide the project into two proposals, one for LHS to renovate the MCSH, the other for LHC to seek a planning grant to determine what the Field Library/Museum might become in consultation with the Selectboard" was voided and replaced with a motion "to withdraw the LHC from the current "Restoring Our Historic Assets" proposal", which passed unanimously.

      The Select Board, the LHS Executive Committee and the 250th Anniversary Committee have endorsed the dual proposal. The argument for cost savings of joining the two structural restorations which are under the practical auspices of one overseeing entity at present and the opportunity to take advantage of the generosity of a local expert in historic preservation who is willing to donate his time to manage the project, in addition to the risk of waiting another 12 months in a particularly volatile economic environment, all point towards the wisdom of taking a leap of faith that the commitments of the authors of the proposal and those they have assembled on the "Project Committee" for the LHS (which includes board members and officers of the LHS as well as qualified townspeople and an architecture firm that received the American Institute of Architects' AIA Award of the Year in 2022) will have success.

      MOTION, moved by Eva Gibavic, seconded by Ann Tweedy: Moved that the Historical Commission remove its name as a sponsor from the "Restoring Our Historic Assets" proposal to the Community Preservation Commission for funding to renovate the Moore's Corner Schoolhouse and Field Family Museums, to allow the application to go forward as a proposed by the Leverett Historical Society.".

      Pass: Aye: Ann Tweedy, Eva Gibavic, Susan Mareneck, Anne Schuyler, Sara Robinson, Susan Lynton. Not Present: Edie Field.

      MOTION, moved by Eva Gibavic, seconded by Ann Tweedy: Moved that the project be divided into two proposals, one for LHS to renovate the MCSH, the other for LHC to seek a planning grant to determine what the Field Library/Museum might become in consultation with the Selectboard.

      Fail: Aye: Ann Tweedy, Eva Gibavic. Nay: Susan Mareneck, Sara Robinson, Susan Lynton. Abstain: Anne Schuyler. Not Present: Edie Field.

      (see minutes)

      1. CPC_Application_Dec-_1_2021-1_final_Jan_2022_002.pdf
  4. History-related Cultural Events

    • Leverett 250 - Planning for 250th year 2024 in Leverett. Fund-raising questions. Next meeting Sunday, January 23, 2022, 3pm Town Hall. Activity subcommittees are working. A budget draft is underway.

    • Schooling in Leverett - "10 to 1", One-Room Schoolhouse Oral History Project publication. Collaboration with Leverett Education Foundation to highlight Leverett Elementary School and education's historical importance in Leverett. Next steps?

      General Discussion...
      The LHC members who worked with the Leverett Elementary School 6th grade in 2017-18 to interview local “scholars” who attended one-room schoolhouses in Leverett prior to consolidation in 1950, have been invited to create a session about engaging young people in history on June 7, 2022 at the statewide Massachusetts History Conference. It will be a virtual session, time not set yet.

      In collaboration with the Leverett Education Foundation, LHC will present the published book of interviews with “scholars” who attended one-room schoolhouses, “10 to 1” (10 schoolhouses which are now consolidated in 1) at the Leverett Library Community Room on Saturday June 11 @ 1pm. We hope some of the LES 6th grade interviewers (now 10th graders!) and scholars who were interviewed, will join us to talk about the experience. Copies of “10 to 1” will be available for purchase on site. (They are now available at the Library to take-out or buy for $25.*)

      * (All funds raised through the sale of the book, which was produced by a grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners submitted by Ann Tweedy, LHC member and Natane Halaz, former librarian, will go to fund the maintenance of historic assets in Leverett belonging to the Leverett Historical Society (such as the remaining one-room school house in Moore’s Corner.)

    • Stone walls - Preserving stone walls in Leverett - "Mapping Leverett", a project for 250th that brings together neighbors to locate and restore Leverett's stone walls.

  5. Historical Commission Mission and Vision

    • Mission statement - Mission & Vision statement draft. In addition to identifying and evaluating sites, how does LHC mission sync with encouraging sustainable preservation of our historical assets? Sterling mission statement - https://www.sterling-ma.gov/sterling-historical-commission

  6. LHC Activities Timeline

    • LHC Activities Timeline - Timeline illustrates Mission & Vision - draft. At this juncture, 3 years from the 250th, what focus of LHC might be most effective?

  7. Cemeteries

    • Individual Cemetery Issues

    • Veterans Recognition Project - New resource listing Leverett veterans from the TH vault..

  8. LHC - Schedules/ Meetings/ Duties

    • LHC Membership - LHC Vacancy

    • Town website - Update history section on Town website -"Leverett History" on town website

  9. Special topics

    • Suggested topic - Suggested topic for future exploration - updating the Howe's Brothers photos now (30 years after last "update")?

  10. Review and document CPA-funded properties

    • Review template - Yearly observations and documentation of historic properties which have received preservation funding from the Community Preservation Act account.

  11. New Business

    • LHC Budget - LHC Budget - Due 1/14/22. Shall it remain the same as last year?

  12. Meeting Wrap-up

The listing of matters is those reasonably anticipated by the Chair which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed and other items not listed may also be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law.

Minutes prepared by SM

Minutes approved on Tuesday, Mar 15, 2022

Posted to: Historical Commission