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The Girgenti family, new building owner John Sheerin and town officials pose with the refurbished Rascal's sign.
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The new sign and old.
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Sheerin hands off the sign to Aaron, Alfio's son, who plans to hang it in his basement bar.

New Adams Building Owner Restores, Returns Bar Sign to Family

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Girgentis get to see what the family bar looks now as Original Seed Cigar with new owner John Sheerin, right.
ADAMS, Mass. — Paying respect to what came before him, Original Seed Cigar and Lounge owner John Sheerin returned a renovated Rascal's sign to the Girgenti family.
 
"From Original Seed to you. This is your sign," Sheerin said at a small gathering with the Girgenti family at his lounge Friday. "It is going home to the right place."
 
Rascal's founder Alfio Girgenti had hung the sign at 32 North Summer St. more than three decades ago. The local contractor and carpenter died in 2005, but signed stayed up.
 
Sheerin purchased the dormant barroom building to convert it into a cigar lounge and humidor. After a substantial renovation, the building is now open.
 
Sheerin said he did his own research on the building and right away realized how important the former watering hole was to the community.
 
"I learned what this place actually meant to people in the community so we wanted to make sure we gave back the entire way," he said.
 
Rascals Lounge was formerly the Adam's Apple and was purchased by Girgenti and some partners in the mid-1980s. Partners changed over the years, but Alfio remained a constant.
 
"Most of the time he would sit right there," Alfio's son Aaron said, pointing to the bar now covered with ornate cigar boxes and humidors.
 
Sheerin's focus on community included hiring local contractors and purchasing materials locally. This also meant appreciating the building's history and its place in the community. 
 
He looked to repurpose much of what was found in the shuttered bar. He said he first planned to turn the sign into a coffee table to be used in the lounge. However, after his wife said she knew the family, Sheerin felt a reunion was necessary. 
 
Sheerin contacted Brent Whitney of Whitco, who specializes in design and fabrication services in wood and metal, who took on the project for free.
 
"I knew the sign was falling apart, and I didn't think they were going to want it in that condition so I mentioned it to Brent," he said. "He feels like I feel, where things need to go back to their rightful place."
 
"This is not my sign; it was hung by your dad," Sheerin told the Girgenti siblings. 
 
Whitney, who operates out of the former Squeeze Soda factory in Adams, said the sign was in pretty rough shape. It was also missing pieces.
 
Sheerin said it came together a little better once he found some of these missing pieces.
 
"I was clearing out the basement, and I found a bunch of pieces of wood. I didn't know where they were from because they didn't match anything else," he said. "I was trying to use everything from the building and reassemble it as it would have been. I didn't realize it was from the sign."
 
The Girgenti family was rendered speechless as they gathered around the restored yet authentic Rascal's sign.
 
"This means so much to us, thank you," said Chris Girgenti, Alfios wife.
 
Aaron said acquiring the sign was often a conversation over the years at holiday dinners in the Girgenti household.
 
"Every holiday we would come up with a scheme. We had a ladder in the back of the pickup. We were going to drive up and cut it down," he said. "We were never going to actually steal it, but we always talked about it."
 
Sheerin laughed and said it probably wouldn't have been that easy.
 
"For the record, what Brent had to go through to get the sign down," he said. "It was not easy. He came prepared and it still took him an hour." 
 
Rascal's was the Girgenti family bar. Alfio's daughters Alicia Malone and Ashley Oladehin looked fondly over the renovated interior. Some of the family members broke away from the group, unable to hold off from looking around.
 
"It is beautiful," his wife, Christine, said. "It is really nice. I can tell you who used to sit in every spot."
 
She added it was a timely reunion and that Saturday would mark 16 years since she lost her husband. Alfio died May 8, 2005, at the age of 54.
 
Sheerin said the building has "good bones" and as he peeled back the layers, he got a better sense of the building and the community that gathered within it.
 
"A lot of the repairs were made under the premise, 'hey you owe $30 on your tab I need you to fix that,'" Sheerin said. "Any time you refurbish an old building like that the building tells you a lot of stuff. We figured out how they decided to hang beer signs. They hung them over holes in the wall. Every time we took one down there was a hole in the wall."
 
The family reminisced about their times at the bar. Christine pointed out where the fireplace used to be, an important place to sit when Rascal's served food. The siblings talked about parties and friends they met over the years
 
Sheerin said he understood how important the bar was to former patrons and noted many will pop in just to see what has become of their old hangout. He said he tried to keep things as they were but admitted that he did have to shorten the bar a few feet.
 
But he had a use for the excess material.
 
"I get a lot of people that come in and reminisce," he said. "I am having my woodworker cut the bar into coasters, and I am giving them to anybody who can come in and tell me a memory of the bar."
 
Selectwoman Christine Hoyt and Town Administrator Jay Green visited during the handoff. Green said he was happy to see another business thriving as a community space. 
 
"It is good to see the property alive and a unique use that recognizes the community history," Green said. 
 
So the big question was where would the sign hang now? 
 
Aaron said he had a fitting spot already picked out.
 
"I bought my parents' house three years ago and put a big addition on," he said. "In the basement, there is a full brick bar. We will hang it down there. No doubt about it."

Tags: local history,   

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Adams Lifts State of Emergency, Gears Up for Summer & Fall Events

By Gregory FournieriBerkshires Correspondent

ADAMS, Mass. — The COVID-19 state of emergency in Adams is over.

Town Administrator Jay Green reported that Adams has lifted the state of emergency implemented for the pandemic. This originally went into effect in March 2020, and was lifted by the town to bring Adams into line with other local communities and the state of Massachusetts, which ended the public health emergency on June 15.

"Dare I say we are slowly approaching normalcy again," Green said Wednesday.

Selectman Joseph Nowak pointed out that despite the state of emergencies being lifted, local businesses may still require their patrons to wear masks. Moreover, Green said if COVID cases were to rise again in Adams, the Board of Health would have the authority to mandate masks independent of this decision by the Selectmen.

This, however, does not appear likely. Green reported that over roughly the last month, there were zero new reported cases of the novel coronavirus in Adams.

Adams joins Pittsfield, North Adams, and other towns in Berkshire County in lifting its state of emergency for the first time in more than a year.

In part to facilitate the return to normalcy, the Events Committee applied for and was granted space on the Town Hall lawn for outdoor movies on July 9, July 23, Aug. 6, and Aug. 20. These movies are family-friendly and begin at dusk. There will not be vendors, so attendees are advised to bring their own snacks and drinks.

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