The oak and maple staircases had darkened over the years from use and age, and the treads were worn.
ADAMS, Mass. — Attorney Emil George was sitting in the conference room at Adams Community Bank last year looking out the window at the Free Library, where he'd once studied as a student.
He thought to himself, "I'm gonna go across the street and just see if they need anything." And so he did.
The result was the restoration of the elaborate twin staircases in the historic building that hadn't had more than a cleaning in the last 124 years.
"This library's beautiful stairways have seen much foot traffic over the last century and it was time to see them restored," said Library Director Holli Jayko at Saturday morning's ribbon cutting of the refurbished steps. "We are very thankful for benevolent donors and talented people."
Wood long darkened by age and use is now golden in color and gleaming. It took an intensive two weeks for Dupee Floor Sanding to sand and refinish the treads, risers, rails, posts, landings and hallway floors.
The work was made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Feigenbaum Foundation, of which George is president.
George joked that he'd walked into the library that day to introduce himself to Jayko and, after he'd convinced her he was serious ("she gave me this look"), they walked around the 1899 building.
"It was Holli who really identified this staircase, both of them, and said they really need to be restored otherwise we're going to lose them permanently," he said. "So I said, well, let's do it."
The maple and oak staircases — the double L-shaped one on the left side of the building and a smaller 90 winder one to the right of the entrance — both lead to the second-floor meeting rooms of George E. Sayles Post 126 of the Grand Army of the Republic. Adams has one of the few GAR halls still in existence; the organization for Union Army veterans was dissolved when the last member died in 1956.
The cornerstone of the building was laid by President William McKinley, whose monument stands in the street outside; it was also built as a Civil War monument and as a free library to serve the town's residents.
"Their hall remains in its original condition, with the chairs once occupied by Civil War veterans," said Jayko. "Today, the GAR Memorial Hall serves as a location for special events and program as well as display space for Adams Historical Society."
George said brothers Armand and Donald Feigenbaum had left everything they owned, everything they earned to create the foundation to support the community. The Feigenbaums, during their lifetimes, supported such organizations as the Berkshire Museum, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' new science building, and the Colonial Theatre, and established several scholarships.
Their philanthropy has continued through the foundation, said George.
"We're stewards of that. Sometimes the word doesn't get out enough about who we are and what we're here for to the other surrounding towns. Believe me, Great Barrington, Sheffield, Lenox, they all know about us," he laughed. "We get inundated with requests from organizations from those towns, and rarely do we see anything from North County. ...
"That's what made me just take the initiative and come over to the library to see what we could do. So don't be shy. Not that you're going to get everything you ask for, but we're there and what we can do."
The foundation previously provided donations toward the Susan B. Anthony monument on the town common.
Town Administrator Jay Green said the event was not only a celebration of the building but of the generosity of the foundation and the philanthropy out in the community.
"Adams is a very rich community — it's rich in spirit and it's rich in giving. And to have the Feigenbaum Foundation come up and to donate such funds to take care of something such as this. We're really humbled by it," he said. "We're proud ... to have such historic buildings ... there is responsibility for that. A moral responsibility to take care of these buildings. It's hard."
The Feigenbaums were pioneers in science, technology and process improvement, Green noted, and there was a lot of industrial pioneering in Adams that created wealth that made the library possible.
"I really find it fitting that some of that foundation spirit is in this building," he said. "It isn't just a library. It's a symbol of our community."
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Adams Selectmen Slapped With Open Meeting Violation
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen was found to have violated Open Meeting Law by failing to post its Dec. 14, 2022, meeting in its designated place at Town Hall.
The complaint was made to the town by Catherine Foster on Jan. 7 about the meeting not being posted corrected and also that it was insufficient because the date and time stamp were illegible.
The Dec. 14 meeting was when the board voted to accept Shared Estates' bid to develop the Greylock Glen campground.
Governmental meetings must be posted at least 48 hours in advance; this does not include Saturdays and Sundays. The notices also must be "conspicuously visible" to the public at all hours.
The developer for the Greylock Glen campground pitched the plans on Thursday night as not only a economic driver that can bring the town millions in revenue but a project that will be built on accessibility, sustainability and community. click for more
The total budget for next year is estimated at $17,463,948, up about $476,975, or 2.8 percent over this year. The main drivers of this increase are hikes in health insurance, contractual obligations, the operations of the wastewater system, and operating expenses.
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