Michael Mucci of Allegrone Construction meets with members of the Western Massachusetts Historical Commission Coalition to review what's being done at the historic Family & Probate Court building.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The $2.8 million ongoing construction at the Berkshire Family & Probate Court is painstakingly preserving and restoring the landmark Park Square structure as near as possible to its original appearance, according to builders on the job.
"When we're all done, this building is going to look a lot more like it did in 1876," Allegrone Construction's Michael Mucci said of the historic former Berkshire Athenaeum building that today houses the courts and Berkshire Middle Registry of Deeds.
Mucci offered a report on the 18-month state-funded project to a delegation of the Western Massachusetts Historical Commission Coalition gathered at the newer athenaeum for their quarterly meeting this week, followed by tours of the exterior construction work on the project across the street. About 40 members of local historic commissions and planning officials from around the region attended the meeting, which included a video presentation.
Mucci said the project has involved 15 subcontractors, more than 50 skilled tradespeople, and an ongoing team of at least eight workers on any given day in the reconstruction of the building's north-facing front side, which comprises the majority of the contract.
"For some reason, this side of the building has failed more than others," Mucci said.
A variety of interior work to restrooms, offices, ventilation and elevators is confined mainly to requirements to bring these areas up to Americans with Disabilities Act and other building code requirements, while discussion with the visiting historical commissioners focused on the time-intensive, systematic preservation of the north facade.
Each stone of the wall and every individual piece of its stained-glass windows is being carefully removed, repaired and restored to recreate or closely duplicate its original appearance and condition.
Allegrone reported it is using "almost no new stone," instead patching and binding together broken existing wall stone with careful masonry as they rebuild the deconstructed facade. A new steel structure extending from the basement to the second story was erected to hold the rebuilt stonework from within.
A gift to the city from railroad magnate and U.S. Rep. Thomas Allen, the High Victorian Gothic-style building was designed by architect William C. Potter and built from 1874-76, and for a century served as the Berkshire Athenaeum until its new Wendell Avenue facility was opened in 1976.
The last major renovation on the building was in 1980, though there was some masonry work as well as roof repair and window replacements in 2002 as part of a larger renovation project to the two adjacent courthouse buildings.
The current restoration is funded through a grant from the commonwealth's Division of Capital Asset Management.
"We're trying to get all of the stone done on the wall this before this winter," said Mucci, who said scaffolding would come down around Thanksgiving. "Most likely we'll have to come down next year and do some clean up."
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Hinsdale Man To Compete In Professional BBQ Competition
Rinaldi with Myron Mixon, celebrity chef and four-time barbecue World Champion.
HINSDALE, Mass. — Professional barbecue teams from all over New England will compete at the Harpoon BBQ Festival in Windsor, Vt., on July 27-28, with hopes of being crowned the grand champion and earning a ticket to the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue.
And Berkshire County's own George Rinaldi will be among them.
Rinaldi, 54, of Hinsdale, has been competing on the professional Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned circuit for eight years. He and his family travel to six or seven competitions annually. They've been all over New England, as well as in New Jersey, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas. At a typical event, competitors must deliver their entries in four categories (chicken, ribs, pork and brisket) to the master judges by pre-specified times — and not a second later.
Rinaldi's skills have earned many trophies, including a first-place prize for his Ribs Division win at a recent competition in New Jersey.
When two men came whipping into the city with police on their tail in March, residents didn't see Pittsfield Police officers hanging out the window shooting their guns off trying to blow out the tires. That only happens in movies.
In fact, residents didn't see Pittsfield Police on the suspect's... click for more
In other business, the Berkshire Innovation Center is on pace for an October opening. The research and development center broke ground in September and now has a new executive director on board in Ben Sosne.
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Keep it simple.
That's what Edward Carmel believes. But he doesn't believe the current City Council is doing that. He feels the council spins its wheels tinkering with things and not accomplishing anything. click for more
Dina Guiel Lampiasi believes there is room for compromise even if it doesn't seem that way.
Lampiasi is seeking to fill the Ward 6 City Council seat being vacated by John Krol. She feels she brings a collaborative approach and a deep understanding of how government works to the table. click for more