As 2011 draws to a close the Sandwich Historical Commission finds itself weighing the merits of two controversial issues and pursuing another that few people considered an issue at all.
The request from the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce for the town to give them the Sand Hill School/Clark-Haddad building for use as a visitor’s center is the most difficult problem the SHC has faced in its forty years of existence. At the core of the problem is the question of the best way to preserve one of only two remaining historic school buildings in Sandwich. The answer will have to be found in the context of fiscal constraints (both public and private), neighborhood continuity and the concept of “highest use” for the building and the site it rests on.
The Historical Commission will help find a way to prevent the loss of another historic building to neglect through the ravages of water, pests and vandalism.
The second issue, which popped up this fall, is a request by the decedents of Rev. John Smith, to rename the Hoxie House to include the Smith name. The SHC unanimously voted to consider doing so. It seemed only proper that the earliest known resident of the oldest surviving house in the oldest town on Cape Cod should be considered for recognition. We are still in the investigative stage, intent on determining what a change in the name would entail and who would need to be involved with the decision. The SHC is not in a position to unilaterally change the name of any of our historical assets, nor is anyone on the commission inclined to do so.
A final issue that we’ve considered in December is Phase II of the Town Hall Restoration Project. Jonathan Shaw, our representative on the Community Preservation Committee, moved that the SHC ask for funding to complete project in 2012. In short, the project will provide safer access to Town Hall and the “artesian” well next to it while maintaining the herring run over the Shawme Pond dam. Look for this request to be forwarded to the Board of Selectmen this winter.
2012 promises to be a fun year. The winter and spring will keep us busy looking for the best use of the Clark-Haddad building and negotiating the mine field of change surrounding the Hoxie House.
The January meeting of the SHC will be held in the Town Archives’ Macknight Room of the Sandwich Library on Wednesday, Jan. 4th at 6PM. We have invited Sarah Korjeff, the Historic Preservation Specialist on the Cape Cod Commission to be a guest speaker. She will share her experience with historic preservation and the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for rehabilitation. As always, the public is invited.
Terry Blake, Chair