Monthly Archives: March 2014

Preserving Sandwich’s Brady’s Island

By Paul Gately
Posted Feb. 6, 2014 @ 1:21 pm
Updated Feb 6, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Brady’s Island is part of that natural swath between the Mill Creek marsh to the east and the wetland on the edge of downtown Sandwich. It is an historical tract that existed long before they built Route 6A right through the middle of it.

William Burbank, a planning board member and retired landscape architect experienced with difficult terrain, wants to get the Brady tract back “to its historical commonplace. I don’t know what that would be yet, but the idea is to take valuable areas and preserve open space fallen into disrepair.”

Most motorists drive right through Brady’s Island and miss it altogether. The sign is easily overlooked across from fire department headquarters. But from a small clearing, trails snake toward the marsh; toward River Road.

Suffice it to say, anybody trying to walk through the entire marshy area will get wet. This is likely why in the old days, ditches were dug to drain sections where agriculture was undertaken.

Behind the police and fire stations, the tract stretches toward the Sandwich Boardwalk; crossing the railroad tracks. The entire area is under the care and custody of the Sandwich Conservation Commission.

Burbank for much of this winter has pursued a grant award from the Sandwich Economic Initiative Corp., and he hopes to generate Sandwich Historical Commission interest in the nascent preservation effort. The historical commission in February will consider Burbank’s project ideas.

There is a need for signage, he said, and long-term clearing and maintenance in places; including five acres of upland behind the public safety buildings.

Burbank said he has considered the idea of constructing a train station along the tracks beyond the police and fire stations; something, he said, he has discussed with Thomas Cahir, the rail enthusiast and director of the Cape Regional Transit Authority.

Burbank said the Brady tract is a “charming open space” right next to everyday happenings in town. It was once the homestead of a “very independent family,” he said. He’d like to locate the foundation of the Brady homestead “and leave it as it is.”

Historical commission member Carolyn Crowell says a project such as that Burbank envisions would need “a general town information campaign” based on material held in the town archives.

There are issues to consider, Crowell said. One would involve any new structures being placed above the floodplain mark, something likely to run afoul of the Old Kings Highway Historic District Committee.

Burbank says a new channel into the area would help kill invasive vegetation, which appears at first glance to be taking over. But Crowell adds the point that more water flowing in means tidal water ultimately endangering the village area.

Burbank nonetheless argues the point that Brady’s Island preservation is a “tangible” project; even though it will need a grant award, local support and Town Meeting funds.

“We need to plan carefully,” he told the historical commission. “But we need to move briskly. This area is a real gem. It’s a diamond in the rough. It offers great views of the village. It would attract strollers, painters and photographers.”

The area will get some publicity later this year. Commission member Bill Daley, wrote a chapter on Brady’s Island for the Sandwich 375th birthday celebration book

Then they built 6A

Town Archivist Barbara Gill said the tract was uninterrupted until 1930 when the state built Route 6A through it. She said the Brady family lived on the natural expanse until the early part of the 20th century; with its homestead on the west side of Route 6A.

The area was full of haying operations, Gill said. “Special wood-float shoes were designed for the horses to cut across the marsh during harvests,” she said.

Gill said that after Sandwich was settled, the large expanse of marsh was divided up so townspeople could move in and cut the hay.

The Brady family at times included farmers, glass factory workers and tenders at the railroad crossings.

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Preservation, Not Demolition!

Paul Gately, March 19. 2014 2:24PM
This is the course being considered by the historic district committee as it deals with Kevin Hamlin’s request to demolish the centuries-old barn on his property at 45 Water St. across from the Wing School.
Committee Chairman Bill Collins said the so-called demo-request has prompted “considerable public interest” in the structure and lots of phone calls. One call came from Thomas Keyes, who is Hamlin’s neighbor across Water Street.
Keyes is willing to send a team of archaeologists to measure the Hamlin barn, which badly leaks through the deteriorating roof, and perform a survey.
“That’s not a bad idea at all,” Collins said. “Mr. Keyes would be interested in moving pieces of the barn to his own property and rebuild it there.”
Ian Ellison of Ellison Timberframes, meanwhile, has visited the Hamlin barn, which is situated in the Town Hall Historic District and remains a part of Sandwich history.
Ellison says the barn must come down given its deteriorating condition. But he would rather this happened in pieces instead of via the wrecking ball.
Ellison says the fate of barns is a continually developing topic across North America. He has also worked on palaces in France and remains a preservation enthusiast.
District committee member Betty Allen, meanwhile, cites a barn preservation/stewardship program and says there are considerable tax credits available to property owners who try to preserve – one way or another – their barns.
At this point, the Hamlin barn is private property so Community Preservation Act funds cannot be requested for preservation efforts. But if the Town of Sandwich stepped in and bought the structure, then the barn could be taken apart, with pieces stored in a secure and dry place until they could be used again. That path would allow for a CPA funding request, district committee members said last week.
Collins said the barn is in “a prominent location and deserves special attention. This is something on which, I think, we have to move slowly.”
Hamlin agrees, to a point. He agreed to a two-week review period before returning to the district committee. But, he said, the barn roof continues to leak and if dismantling piece-by-piece is to be pursued, the holes in the roof would have to be covered in the interim.
Parts of the barn that might be preserved include tie-in joints in the roof system; the windmill could be stored out of the weather; and both the wooden frame and some metalwork could be saved for later restoration or reproduction.
A small section of the roof joinery would likely prove invaluable to historians as an actual example of construction work from the 18th century; perhaps more so than photographs of the barn that would be placed in the Sandwich Town Archives.
“We need time to explore the alternatives to demolition,” Collins said. “To consider ways to save the historical aspects of the building and to determine if the barn can be secured until things are worked out.”
The district committee in the last year dealt with two other barn-demo-applications: one at 108 Main St. and another at 158 Main St. The structure at 108 Main St. was demolished but the property owner agreed to replace it with a garage with so-called “Streetscape” worthiness, reflecting what was removed.
The 158 Main St. structure was also razed. The property owner promised a design similar to the barn, but the new place will not be a replica.

Reprinted from the Sandwich Broadsider.