Historical Commission

Monday, October 16, 2023, 7:00 pm until 8:30 pm
Town Hall & online: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85720560676?pwd=bThuajB1LzFWTG9ndU51WUhGZks1QT09
A meeting of the Historical Commission

Meeting of Historical Commission

Members: (Quorum)

  • Absent: Edie Field, Honorary
  • Absent: Anne Schuyler
  • Present: Ann Tweedy, at 7:00 PM
  • Present: Sara Robinson, at 7:00 PM
  • Present: Susan Mareneck, Chair, at 7:00 PM
  • Present: Carole Desanti, at 7:00 PM
  • Present: Susan Lynton, at 7:00 PM
  • Present: Eva Gibavic, at 7:00 PM

Also Present:

  • Lisa Stratford

See original Agenda Approved Meeting Minutes

Meeting opened: 7:07 PM

Meeting closed: 8:44 PM

  1. Meeting Preliminaries

  2. Preservation Planning for Historical Assets

    • CPA Application - Discuss 'Growing Preservation Partnerships' draft proposal to Community Preservation Commission.

      General Discussion...
      Susan M. offered an overview of the 'Growing Preservation Partnerships' draft proposal - the Community Preservation and Historical Commissions working together to strengthen the procedures and improve the practices of their joint endeavors to preserve Leverett's historical assets. The intention of the proposal is to create effective administrative and evaluative processes. A positive outcome would be more confidence by all, commissions and town meeting, about what to fund and what not to fund. Could the collaboration be funded under the 5% administrative line in CPA funding? The LHC looks forward to beginning a conversation with the LCPC. Susan M has already begun to reach out through the MHA and MHC listservs and research the CPC database for similar efforts to improve their application and compliance practices in other towns. It is suggested that she include a compilation of her findings in the proposal.

      Ann Tweedy offered a suggestion that if it does not seem possible to fund the collaborative work (research and process development) through CPA funding, could the LHC ask for a line item budget at town meeting?

      Lisa Stratford thanked the Historical Commission for including her efforts to move forward on digitizing the content of the town archives in the town hall vault. She applied for a grant from the state archivist but did not receive it. She will speak to Sam Redman, Chair of the UMASS Public History Dept., regarding grad student assistance to inventory and catalogue what is in the vault. Until she researches costs, she does not think she is ready to make a request from CPC. The Historical Commission has some funding in this year's 'A Sense of Where You Are...' program to work with other boards and committees. Would it allow Pleun to give Lisa advice regarding next steps? SM will check with Pleun. Susan Lynton suggests exploring NEH grant funding for preservation of the artifacts in the vault; she will send information on the NEH grants to Lisa. Lisa stated that from what she has heard from the Town Clerk's Association, we are not behind other towns.

      1. LevCPA-GROWING-PRESERVATION-PARTNERSHIPS_LHC2024-25FINAL10-2-23.pdf - Draft CPA proposal 2024-25
    • Industrial History Programming - UPDATE - Scheduling CPA-funded programming: ASOWYA (''A Sense of Where You Are: Getting to Know Leverett's Industrial Past'') 1. Embodied History: Charcoal Talk presentation (private? public?); Identifying next ''embodied history'' topic (timber industry? include logging, milling), identify participants, schedule a time and place to share stories? or individual interviews? 2. ''Signage'': current status? (Sunraise printing in Hadley?)

      General Discussion...
      In gratitude for the participation of 8 local people, a public screening of the 'Charcoal Talk' film and the interview with Leonard LaClaire is being offered to the participants and families and friends on Sunday 10/22/23 at the NLBC. Using the computer and TV, Don Robinson will do the tech work. We will offer refreshments. We look forward to a program incorporating the research that Eva and Pleun did for their 'Charcoal Industry in Leverett' presentation on zoom in 2022 and the 2+ hour 'Embodied History' conversation among the 'Coke Kiln' workers in February 2023 to be offered at some point during Leverett's 250th Anniversary year in 2024.

    • LHS Collection Inventory - LHS Collection Inventory - Update on Moore's Corner Schoolhouse and Field Family Museum collections inventory and digitization. Example of ''Jan'', researcher who used the collections during the summer.

  3. LHC Business

    • Leverett 250th in 2024 - Leverett 250th Anniversary update

    • Town website - Update on redesign of Historical Commission page on town website. Pros/cons of LHC email address change.

      General Discussion...
      Susan M. will ask Margie if it is possible for the town email address 'historicalcommission@...' to increase the capacity, or are all the town addresses limited? A suggestion is made that we use that address only for outgoing official business - how would we limit or redirect responses? More investigation is needed.

  4. Access to Historical Commission meetings -

    • In-person, online meeting format - LHC members discuss current status and future for LHC meetings

  5. New Business

    • National 250th Anniversary - Begin discussion of LHC interest/involvement in national semiquincentennial in 2026. Leverett has several 'witness properties' (Field Tavern, Slarrow Sawmill, Brushy Cellarholes and ?).

      General Discussion...
      The Field Tavern is in urgent need of attention. Electricity has been disconnected and it is not to be entered. Still privately owned, it is in arrears on taxes. Jim Hawkins, FRCOG Building Inspector suggests that the town look at legal options to save the pre-Revolutionary structure. He stated that there would be interested parties to take on receivership and preserve the property. We understand that the owners are interested in retaining it. It is decided that we will reach out to them to express our concern and support for preserving the building. Erica Gradoia, Architectural Historian and Conservator, looked at the property with us from the outside and said it would be a major project to clean up the property and preserve the building. It could be the centerpiece of bringing needed community benefits to Leverett as senior housing, affordable housing or public gathering spaces. Since Comprehensive Planning is happening simultaneously in Leverett, it is worth exploring all options for adaptive reuse.

      Eva suggests Charle 'Nick' Bagley may have historical research on the Tavern as the Masons used to meet there. She will send contact. She states that Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association has some Leverett tax records.

    • Update on Leverett's Historic Properties - Field Family Museum Ad Hoc Committee; Moore's Corner School House (LHS); Friends of the North Leverett Sawmill and ''Heritage Site & Nature Trail''(FONLS); Rattlesnake Gutter Trust (RGT), Rattlesnake Gutter Road restoration.

      General Discussion...
      Rattlesnake Gutter Trust believes they may have found a way to make at least a portion of the Gutter a 'trail' vs. a 'road'. Then it would be eligible for CPA and Trails Grant funding; similar to Rat Hollow. The process is being explored with Margie.

      Carole would like to introduce Peter Stallybrass to the Historical Commission. He is an academic expert in quite a few areas of Leverett's history from Erastus Salisbury Field to gravestone art in Leverett's cemeteries. She will work on when and how to do it.

  6. Meeting Wrap-up

    • Next Meetings:
      1. Mon, Nov 13, at 7:00 PM "Historical Commission Meeting" -- Town Hall & online: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85720560676?pwd=bThuajB1LzFWTG9ndU51WUhGZks1QT09
      2. Mon, Dec 11, at 7:00 PM "Historical Commission Meeting" -- Town Hall & online: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85720560676?pwd=bThuajB1LzFWTG9ndU51WUhGZks1QT09
      3. Mon, Jan 8, at 7:00 PM "Historical Commission Meeting" -- Town Hall & online: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85720560676?pwd=bThuajB1LzFWTG9ndU51WUhGZks1QT09
      4. Mon, Feb 12, at 7:00 PM "Historical Commission Meeting" -- Town Hall & online: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85720560676?pwd=bThuajB1LzFWTG9ndU51WUhGZks1QT09
      5. Mon, Mar 11, at 7:00 PM "Historical Commission meeting" -- Town Hall & online: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85720560676?pwd=bThuajB1LzFWTG9ndU51WUhGZks1QT09
      6. Mon, Apr 8, at 7:00 PM "Historical Commission meeting" -- Town Hall & online: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85720560676?pwd=bThuajB1LzFWTG9ndU51WUhGZks1QT09
    • Published! Meeting Closed at 8:44 PM.

The listing of matters is those reasonably anticipated by the Chair which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed and other items not listed may also be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law.

Minutes prepared by SM

Minutes approved on Monday, Nov 20, 2023