Historical Commission sets priorities for 2018

By Paul Gately, Wicked Local, Sandwich (Broadsider)

Greg Anderson chaired his last Sandwich Historical Commission meeting last week, handing the gavel off to member Lisa Hassler, a local realty broker, historical preservation enthusiast, and liaison to Community Preservation Act projects.

Anderson assumes the vice-chairman title, and the full officer slate will be elected in February as the commission continues to think ahead about accomplishments still to come.

In the interim, members are reviewing a set of five commission goals Anderson advanced for discussion. In terms of prioritization, he recommends fundraising first, event scheduling second, public relations third, maintaining a collaborative presence fourth, and lastly working for board resiliency.

“In terms of that last item, I think we would want to kick up some dirt and do some great things in 2018 that will undoubtedly carry over to 2019,” Anderson said.

Veteran member Carolyn Crowell, who routinely supplies historical perspective and experience to discussions about commission issues, had her own priorities. She said public relations should be the commission’s first priority.

“Getting the message out,” she said. “There’s a lot to get out. A lot to talk about. There is so much more about Sandwich than just the story of glassmaking.”

In a related area, the increasingly activist commission continues to vocally support any effort to preserve the 1927 building at the currently closed Henry T. Wing School along Water Street.

Anderson said the group should remain part of the always-evolving Wing discussion, especially if it evolves that a private developer ultimately might move in and redo the 1927 section, which was once Sandwich High School.

Commission members agree it might be prudent to engage state Rep. Randy Hunt, R-Sandwich, on the what to do with the Wing issue as it continues to unfold this year. Bill Daley of the commission, meanwhile, said it might be encouraging to approach Hunt with the intent of securing his input and perspective related to Wing’s future, if there is going to be a Wing future.

In the past few years, some selectmen said there is far too much wrong with the redbrick 1927 building to save it. Others have said it is not in that bad condition. Still others say that nostalgia should not be used as a pivot point in the Wing discussion.

The commission, meanwhile, has been far from ambivalent about saving 1927 Wing, though it usually stops short of public contrariness with the issue.

In an unrelated area, the commission last week discussed the idea of an individual listing for the architecturally impressive and dominating Sandwich Town Hall, one of the oldest town halls in Massachusetts. The building is listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places and remains an historic preservation success story.

The far-from-ordinary downtown building, dating to 1834, is already part of a certified historic district, but it is not individually listed on the federal register. Commission members generally agree Town Hall might need more protection in the next 20 to 30 years if a new round of voters agree Sandwich might need a new Town Hall elsewhere.

The historic district listing on the U.S. Register does not bring with it any special recognition for the building, though the structure does fall under the Old Kings Highway District with its protective regulations and guidelines.

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