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Springfield Preservation Trust lobbies to save historic building

Date: 3/1/2011

Feb. 28, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — An event at an historic home is designed to help the rehabilitation of a historic building.

The Springfield Preservation Trust (SPT) will be the recipient of a fundraiser at the home of Donald Courtemanche, the executive director of the Springfield Business Improvement District, on March 6.

Courtemanche will be opening his home, the Loomis-Wesson Mansion at 220 Maple St., at 2 p.m. for tours, wine and hors d'oeuvres. Event parking will be available nearby at the MacDuffie School on Ames Hill Drive. Tickets are $35 for SPT members and $40 for non-members. To reserve tickets, visit or send a payment to Springfield Preservation Trust, 74 Walnut Street, Springfield MA 01105. Payments must be received by March 4.

The money raised will go to help finance the rehabilitation of the building at 77 Maple Street. Now owned by the SPT, the oldest school building in Springfield, 77 Maple is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The building has been slated to be demolished and repurposed as a parking lot and SPT purchased the property so it could be saved.

Robert McCarroll explained to Reminder Publications the building has been secured in several ways. It has been boarded up to prevent people from entering it and the foundation has been supported. The SPT has also completed the first phase of repairs to an exterior wall that had collapsed.

The immediate goal, McCarroll said, was to stabilize the exterior of the building, so work could proceed on the interior.

The SPT will soon go out to bid on the second phase of the exterior wall repairs and on the restoration of some of the windows to the building, he added. The current budget for the restoration is about $600,000, McCarroll said.

Once completed, the building will be the location of several market rate residential condominiums, he explained.

Courtemanche's home harkens back to the 19th century and the time at which Springfield was a growing manufacturing and innovation center.

According to information supplied by the SPT, the Loomis-Wesson Mansion is a high Victorian Gothic Revival style house was built in 1874. It was designed by the noted Boston architectural firm of Ware & Van Brunt and constructed by Chauncey Shepard, one of Springfield's master builders, at a cost of $25,000.

Mrs. Calvin Loomis was its first owner. She soon sold the house to a member of the Wesson family, founders of the nationally known gun manufacturing company Smith & Wesson. The house was subsequently owned by second and third generations of the Wesson family until the 1930s.

Courtemanche said, "When I purchased 220 Maple in August 2010, I became personally and professionally invested in saving Springfield's historic treasures. 77 Maple St. is located in a key gateway to the city. Rejuvenating this property works hand in hand with revitalization and economic development in Springfield. I especially love the idea of my historic home helping restoration efforts of a blighted historic property in my own neighborhood."

SPT President Benjamin Murphy said, "A legacy of innovation and abundance of Victorian mansions and single-family houses inspired the appellations 'the City of Firsts' and 'the City of Homes.' There is a strong connection between historical preservation and economic recovery. Springfield's greatest assets — procured during two centuries of profound prosperity — are its homes and its history. If protected, preserved and repurposed, these assets will propel our city forward."

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