South County Senior Center to get assessment on its historical significance

SOUTH DEERFIELD — With Community Preservation Act money, the town has hired engineers to study and assess the building housing the South County Senior Center and evaluate its historical significance.

In 2012, the town Historical Commission received $10,000 in CPA money to do an assessment of the 1888 grammar school, now the South County Senior Center. While the town of Deerfield owns the building, the towns of Whately, Sunderland and Deerfield also share and operate the regional senior center.

The school was designed by the famous Northampton architect William Fenno Pratt. The building is currently in disrepair with the second floor inaccessible and the attic stairs sealed off. The results would help the town decide the future of one of the last standing grammar schools.

The town is just getting to the project due to administrative delays.

The town has hired Agricola Corp. of Chicopee to evaluate the 67 North Main St. structure for $8,500, according to interim Town Administrator Wendy Foxmyn. Gregory Farmer, who has more than 20 years experience researching and documenting services for the restoration and adaptive reuse of significant historic structure, will lead the project.

So far, the Historical Commission doesn’t have a plan yet on what it wants to do with the building.

This week, Farmer did a quick run-through of the inside of the building. After his initial inspection, he said the building appeared very sound and he doesn’t anticipate many problems with the site.

He said he will develop a draft report for the Historical Commission in a month on his assessment of the building. The final report would be completed in March.

While Farmer will focus on the historic evaluation of the building, he has partnered with EDM Architects of Pittsfield to evaluate the structural integrity and environmental issues plaguing the senior center building.

Currently, the attic and basement are closed off for health reasons due to mold and asbestos discovered in those parts of the building.

The engineers would study how to mitigate those issues.

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