AGAWAM — Except the town can uncover money for repairs, a historic tavern on Key Street may possibly collapse into “a rotted pile of wooden and a cellar hole,” warns Philip Kimball.
The Captain Charles Leonard House, designed more than 200 many years back to serve stagecoach riders traveling in between Hartford and Boston, is exhibiting its age. Kimball, a member of the board of trustees that operates the dwelling as a nonprofit banquet corridor, mentioned $19,074 authorized by the City Council for a preservation strategy is just the initially action. Wooden is rotting all more than the exterior — including load-bearing columns. Plumbing and electrical methods relationship back again to the 1930s pose a continual hearth or flooding threat. All 48 home windows will need replacing. He claimed the selling price tag will operate into the hundreds of countless numbers, far beyond what the trustees can raise on their personal.
“It’s going to be a great deal of income,” Kimball said. “The home is from 1805, and it rots as you glance at it.”
Jablonski-Devriese Architects of Springfield, the cheapest of three bidders, will evaluate the assets and prepare the preservation program. Jablonski-Devriese has obtained design and style awards for its preservation get the job done at the Barney Carriage House in Forest Park and the Stitzer Centre at Springfield University.
In advance of voting 8- in favor of the preservation approach at their June 7 assembly, various town councilors explained it’s revenue nicely used.
“We do not want to get rid of the appeal in Agawam,” mentioned Councilor Dino Mercadante. “If we start out erasing points due to the fact we do not want to invest in them, we ignore who we are, wherever we arrived from.”
Councilor George Bitzas reported the Leonard Property is one particular of only a few buildings from the 1800s even now standing in Agawam. He stated the job warrants the council’s whole aid, both of those for the renovation programs and for the eventual renovation expenditures.
Each he and Councilor Gerald Smith explained projects like this are the explanation Agawam participates in the Community Preservation Act, a program below which a 1% surcharge is additional to all house tax costs. CPA income is saved individual from the town’s once-a-year spending plan and can only be used on very affordable housing, historic preservation, open up room or recreation assignments.
The $19,074 price tag of the preservation program will arrive entirely from CPA resources. In April, the CPA fund had a balance of $3.71 million, of which $640,065 was earmarked specially for historic preservation tasks, and $2.10 million was offered for any objective. An more $723,000 from local tax surcharges and point out matching grants will be included to the CPA fund this yr.
Kimball stated the trustees strategy to commence a cash marketing campaign to defray element of the charge of renovations, but he doesn’t consider they can elevate the “hundreds of hundreds of dollars” required to make the structural repairs with personal donations on your own. He predicted that the trustees will inquire the CPA to contribute most of the funding.
Considering that the residence was restored by Minerva Davis in the 1930s, a volunteer board of trustees has managed the home without any subsidy from the town or condition. Their principal supply of income is rentals of the house as a banquet corridor, hosting weddings, loved ones get-togethers, small business retreats, club meetings and group situations. The trustees also generally run a series of fundraiser activities all through the 12 months, including beer and wine tastings sponsored by McCarthy’s Liquors, and themed dinners.
The trustees also lease two flats on the upper level of the household. Even though the residences keep on being occupied, COVID-19 wiped out an whole yr of operate and fundraiser revenues. Kimball said a bridal shower earlier this month was his 1st booked occasion considering that the start of the pandemic.
“We generally have experienced no money for 15 months,” he claimed. “We’ve been likely in the hole each individual thirty day period.”
Kimball reported any time cash has run brief, the trustees have dug into their very own pockets to make up the variance. Some, like Kimball himself, also lead their labor. In recent months, Kimball has rewired a number of light-weight switches and electrical outlets. He points to sites where by he and other trustees have replaced wood blocks or repainted moldings in an exertion to stay ahead of the deterioration.
He claimed the trustees can get treatment of day-to-working day maintenance, but they require to seek the services of specialists for more substantial-ticket merchandise this kind of as changing the home windows, taking away the out of date oil tank and boiler, bringing the electrical wiring up to code, and using out previous brass water pipes.
In letters sent to the Town Council, several Agawam people registered their help for preserving the Leonard Dwelling.
Robert Kadis, chairman of the Agawam Cultural Commission, called the previous tavern “precious not only to the cultural standing of our neighborhood, but in the eyes of the Bigger Springfield location. … If areas like the Captain Charles Leonard Dwelling are authorized to slip absent, likelihood are good we’ll in no way reclaim them.”
“It is of crucial importance that this jewel of Agawam’s Center Historic District be managed,” wrote Susan Scantlen, president of the Agawam Historic Association.
Kimball stated he expects Jablonski-Devriese to complete its report by November. The report will consist of a listing of jobs vital to maintain the household open up. He stated the trustees will then produce a program to unfold out the renovation initiatives above numerous decades, beginning in 2022.