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City group honors historical preservation

Could you rescue this historical home? The Sprinfield Preservation Trust has placed this circa 1841 seven bedroom home on Maple Street on its "endangered" list.
By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD At the annual Preservation Awards last week, there was both good news and bad news. The good news is Springfield property owners are making investments in older properties to preserve their character.

The bad news is there are properties that are in desperate need of rescue.

About 30 people gathered at Tower Square on May 9 to salute people who have taken steps to maintain the city's historic nature.

James Boone of the Springfield Preservation Trust, the sponsors of the event, said that outside consultants coming tothe city, such as those in the Urban Land Institute, have all praised "the built environment" of the city.

"It's the real strength of the city of Springfield," Boone added.

He noted that many of the city's strongest advocates are those who live in historic districts.

He said the city had lost several historic properties last year after long efforts to save them. Those properties included a carriage house on Edwards Street and a large Victorian era mansion on Buckingham Street.

Boone expressed hope for properties the trust has placed on an "endangered" list. That group includes the former Chestnut Middle School which some developers have expressed interest in as a condominium project and the former Technical High School, which has been mentioned as a site for a state information storage facility. St. Joseph's Church and School on Howard Street, the Mason Square Fire Station, and the Kesser Israel Synagogue in Forest Park are also on the endangered list.

Several homes are also on the list including buildings at 77 Maple Street and 52 Westminster St. The historic brick home at 83 Maple St. with seven bedrooms and four bathrooms is on the list. Built in 1841, the property is being represented by Marty's Real Estate. The listed price is $136,000.

Those properties saluted included Sacred Heart Church for its installation of a historically appropriate slate roof; 14 Virginia St. for its exterior restoration; homes at 1560 Wilbraham Rd. and 78 Oak St. in Indian Orchard; a restoration of a carriage house at 35 Firglade Ave.; a new home at 132 Westminster St. that matches the Victorian style of the Hill-McKnight neighborhood; the exterior restoration of 1127 Worthington St.; and the conversion of the former diner at 137 Main St. Indian Orchard to a new art gallery.

Stewardship awards were given to St. Michael's Cathedral and Springfield Cemetery for maintaining historic features at those properties.

The trust is sponsoring a historic home tour on May 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. The tour will feature six Colonial Revival homes on Bellevue Avenue and Marengo Park in the Forest park neighborhood. Tickets are $15 for the general public and $12 for trust members. Advance tickets can be purchased at The Flower Box, 596 Carew Street and Flowers, Flowers, 758 Sumner Avenue. Tickets available during tour hours on Bellevue Avenue.