Vol. IV No. 4 2/15/2023
Notes from the Historic Preservation Committee (HPC), February 6, Hybrid meeting
- Carl Sprague, Chair
- Peter Williams
- Jorjia Marsden
- Lisa Sauer and Gary Johnston via Zoom
- Attorney Lori Robbins for 10 Pine Street. Barn in poor condition and was built over the property line many years ago. Propose to tear it down. Rebuild new barn for garage, office, and small apartment with condition never used for short-term rental.
- Johnston said it looked modern to him.
- Williams said researched it and it is very old, but is it significant and/or is it in historic district?
- Finding: the structure is not in historic district and is not historically significant. Moved accept finding - Passed
- Sarah Mnookin (owner) on behalf of One Dugway Road. After more investigation need to change plans to accommodate condition. (No foundation in places and much rot) submitted a redesign.
- New plans received and approved.
- Chair thanked Mnookin for consulting and working with HPC — feared too few do.
- Chair moved to 55 Main Street. Sprague spoke to Ned Baldwin, Building Inspector, about addition at that address. Baldwin apologized "it slipped through the cracks."
- Chair restated the procedure per the bylaw: Building Inspector (BI) is applied to for permit, the structure is old, therefore, BI refers to the HPC before permit granted. Chair said too often this is not done. (See SU Volume II Number 21 11/1/2021 Notes from the Historic Preservation Committee, October 18)
- Johnston argued that 55 Main was no longer historic due to work done by a previous owner/contractor.
- Chair said a former owner/occupant of that house was Margaret (Peggy) Rogers who was on the Titanic in utero and survived.
- Chair introduced Daniel Chester French's garden pavilion "a pretty little thing that was always a part of our landscape and now it is gone."
- Chair said there was no size restriction in the Stockbridge bylaw, but evidently state Building Code overrode local bylaw. More conversation should have been had. Why wasn't there more? It appeared Chair wanted to discuss the bylaw and whether changes were necessary to make it more effective.
- Johnston was anxious to weigh in. He "was appalled" that SU gave space for local voices to express their dismay and sense of loss that French garden structure was demolished. Johnston thought owner John Mullen was owed an apology.
- Sauer tried to return to relevant subject: is bylaw protecting historic treasure? "It's not the Lincoln Memorial but it was designed and signed by French" doubtless historically significant.
- Chair added many don't know how much garden design French did.
- Johnston returned to blaming Chesterwood and SU.
- Williams asked to look at positive — with all publicity more people aware of HPC.
- Chair said yes, more people might know about bylaw and not "do dumb things with our heritage. Maybe they will learn the bylaws and respect them."
- Johnston praised Mullen for the millions he is spending to make house look "as good as possible".
- Chair felt out of all the millions spent, he might have found a few dollars to save the garden pavilion.
- Williams said that Town Counsel (TC) opined that no permit was required under state law and somehow that took precedent over our local bylaw therefore no one in violation of any law.
- Chair returned to issue he wanted to discuss — are there loopholes and weaknesses in our bylaw? For example, should whole burden fall on BI to refer to HPC? Should the process by which proposed demolition reaches HPC be in hands of one person?
- Relying upon a Berkshire Eagle news article, Johnston said he thought Mullens did all he could.
- Chair said evidently BI didn't know about the demolition, HPC didn't know about it, Linda Jackson Chair of the Historical Commission didn't know — no one even made a phone call to anyone in the Town government. Chair concluded "I'm a pack rat — if anyone would have called me, I would have gone over in a truck and carted it away."
Stockbridge Cemetery. Photo: Lionel Delevingne