North Adams Adding 100 Properties to Historical Survey

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A team of preservationists will be perusing properties this week to be included in the city's list of historic properties.

Historical Commission Chairwoman Justyna Carlson introduced Jennifer Berden of Gray & Pape, a consulting firm for historical resource management and preservation, to the City Council on Tuesday night to let residents know they would be out and about.

"We want the public to know they're out taking pictures of houses or standing there with notebooks taking down notes about the architecture," said Carlson.

Berden said they would be easy to spot with their fluorescent vests; they also will leave note cards explaining what they are doing.  

The company will be documenting 100 properties, including the so-called veterans project in Greylock, and a historic district to add to the initial historical survey done in 1978. The current survey has 320 properties and six historic districts.

"It was a long time ago and needed updating," said Carlson, noting it was created before some of the councilors were born. "There are some housing projects that are now eligible that were not at the time because 35 years has added time, historically. Some people did not choose to participate when it was done for a variety of reason and so their properties were omitted."

The survey will not limit what people can do to their properties, she said, adding she gets frequent calls from realtors and homebuyers wondering about the historical aspects of buildings or neighborhoods.

The survey is being done through a Massachusetts Historical Commission grant of $20,000, which the local commission received last year on its second try. The nationally known Gray & Pape, which also has worked on survey projects for Quincy and Chatham, was selected through a bidding process.

Preparation work began last fall with representatives from the firm and Michael Steinitz, historical geographer with the state Historical Commission. Carlson said she took them around to the areas and properties designated to be included.

The team will photograph the buildings and document features over the next week, and complete the survey notes with historical backgrounds afterward. The results will also be posted on the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System, or MACRIS, database.

"We are very happy we got the grant and very pleased with the work Gray & Pape is doing," said Carlson.


Editor's Note: We're very pleased this story has been noticed and commented on. Chairwoman Carlson also wanted to respond to some of the comments and her remarks are below:

Updating the Survey is one positive step. Contrary to the first comment "most other MA cities" do not have "local historic districts." At last report from MHC, there were only two in Berkshire County, if I remember correctly in Sheffield and Lenox. They are much more difficult to establish than the state and national districts that we currently have, requiring two-thirds vote of the City Council, but they are certainly on NAHC's future agenda.  Our present demolition delay ordinance deals with buildings over 50 years old and has a delay period of 12 months.

Justyna Carlson, NAHC

Tags: historic preservation,   historical commission,   historical documents,   

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