Franklin County Fairgrounds, Historic Deerfield get $10K to repair historic buildings

  • The Round House at the Franklin County Fair. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/29/2023 10:59:59 AM
Modified: 5/29/2023 10:59:36 AM

GREENFIELD — Two local restoration projects received a $10,000 bump this month with matching grants from a statewide nonprofit focused on preserving historic buildings.

The Franklin County Fairgrounds will be able to make repairs to the Roundhouse building’s wall boards and repaint the exterior, while Historic Deerfield can fix the Deerfield Community Center’s belfry, which has rotted or damaged wood. The two organizations are receiving the $10,000 match through the partnership of Preservation Massachusetts and The 1772 Foundation.

At the Fairgrounds, 45 of the Roundhouse’s surface boards damaged by wind, rain and animals will be replaced and the entire structure will be repainted. The iconic red Roundhouse was built in 1899 and serves as the Fairgrounds’ primary place to display handmade crafts and homegrown produce during the annual Franklin County Fair.

“We’re very excited, it should really make a significant impact on the aesthetics of the buildings,” said Mike Nelson, president of the Franklin County Fairgrounds. “This will be our opportunity to get the Roundhouse into the best condition it can.”

Nelson said the boards have undergone “normal wear and tear” and they replaced about a third of them in 2009 when the building underwent a full rehabilitation.

The project is expected to begin sometime this summer — likely in July — and Nelson said the Roundhouse will be in top shape for the annual Franklin County Fair. With such a busy schedule set for this year, he said their projected timeline is still rough.

Historic Deerfield 

For Historic Deerfield, the grant will help the museum fund belfry repairs at the Deerfield Community Center. The belfry, according to project description from The 1772 Foundation, requires “significant repairs,” as deferred maintenance, rot and animal activity has caused structural deterioration on the feature, which dates to around 1838. Replacements will be made in-kind and additional work will be done on the roof, which was installed in the second half of the 19th century. 

Historic Deerfield Vice President of Development and Communications Jesse Vanek said the museum was looking at a roof repair for a while, but after having some experts analyze the building, the nonprofit shifted gears to look at the belfry.

“After we had some experts that helped us to evaluate it and determined that the roof itself was in fine condition and some of the water problems we were experiencing were due to the belfry,” Vanek said.

Vanek said they’ll be repairing some of the wood, replacing some asphalt roof material with copper roofing, along with measures to reduce water infiltration and prevent animals from entering the structure. He expects the work to be done sometime this summer and thanked Preservation Massachusetts and the 1772 Foundation for its grant funding.

“With anything like this, being a historic building, we have a dual obligation to maintain the building as best we can and be minimally invasive in the solutions we use,” Vanek said. “And we think this will accomplish both these goals.”

The two projects are among 16 across the state that received up to $10,000 in matching grants for exterior restorations and repairs on historic structures.

“Since 2020 this program has demonstrated the significant impact that even small grants can make. The need for dollars to fund critical repairs and the ongoing maintenance of these buildings grows each year,” said Preservation Massachusetts President and CEO Erin Kelly in a statement. “The projects that this year’s grant recipients will undertake help ensure that the historic resources that are integral parts of our communities remain for tomorrow.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.


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