School’s out forever…

Crews began demolishing the 1896 Curtis School on the morning of September 24, 2012.

Knowing it was coming didn’t make it any easier.

On Monday, September 24, 2012, at shortly after 8 a.m., crews began the demolition of the 1896 Curtis School. Working quickly and methodically, the single piece of machinery from Francesco Demolition of Duxbury had the building reduced to rubble in a matter of hours. The remaining steps will be to load the tangled debris into construction waste containers and haul them away.

On the bright side, the town has agreed to preserve the granite foundation blocks and store them on-site for potential reuse. It’s unclear where they will end up — some have floated the idea of using them as the foundation for the currently dismantled Albert White Barn, or at least having them available as the basis for a retaining wall.

On August 22, the town manager, community services director, and co-president of the Hanover Historical Society toured the building and determined that the sign out front and some of the original metal ceiling tiles could be preserved. They have been moved to the barn at the Stetson House for storage.

By Monday afternoon, the structure had been reduced to a pile of rubble.

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Welcome to the Curtis School Preservation blog…

This site’s purpose is to provide information about and generate ideas to preserve the 1896 Curtis Elementary School in Hanover, Massachusetts, which will be torn down in June 2012 unless citizens take action.

Voters at the May 7 Annual Town Meeting will be asked to reconsider last year’s vote to raze the building. Article 54 also would appoint a task force to establish a clearly defined process to address preservation options for this structure, and for other historic buildings in Hanover that may be threatened with demolition in the coming years. Click here to read the full text of the May 7 Special and Annual Town Meeting Warrants, with the Advisory Committee’s recommendations. We respectfully (but strongly) disagree with the Committee’s opposition to Article 54 (see page 39 of the PDF link).

For more information, contact the article’s sponsor, Chris Haraden, charaden@comcast.net.

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Curtis School’s days are numbered…

Work crews began asbestos abatement at the 1896 Curtis School on July 16.

According to this week’s Hanover Mariner, the town of Hanover will tear down the 1896 Curtis School before the end of this summer.  Work crews from Air Quality Experts, an environmental services company based in Atkinson, N.H., started work on asbestos abatement on Monday, July 16. A request for bids was issued by the town in early May, before town meeting voters rejected a citizens petition article to further delay the demolition while alternatives were explored.

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Hanover town meeting voters reject proposal to preserve 1896 Curtis School

During the second night of Annual Town Meeting (May 8, 2012), the voters of Hanover expressed their opinion, and have decided that the 1896 Curtis School will be demolished. It is a sad day for preservationists, but we can take comfort in the notion that this debate has heightened awareness of the need for a systematic approach for evaluating Hanover’s historic buildings. Thank you all for your support and encouragement.

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Most recent facilities study envisions Curtis School still standing…

The most recent report to look at the 1896 Curtis Elementary School was the 2010 Municipal Facilities Assessment conducted by the Drummey Rosane Anderson architectural firm (known as the “DRA Report”). There are 17 pages dedicated to the Curtis School, and the authors do not indicate that the building is too deteriorated to be preserved.

In fact, quite the opposite — the report suggests that the frame of the building be used for a fire station. Notably, the conclusion of the town’s own consultant is directly opposite the recommendation that was made at the 2011 Annual Town Meeting. The consultant’s recommended outcome could not be accomplished if the building were demolished:

“Based upon evaluation of this building, and upon consideration of the various needs expressed by members of the community and the Town administration, our recommendation to salvage only the basic exterior historic envelope of this building, to the extent possible, and to restructure, redesign, and reconstruct the building to serve as a satellite fire station serving the north end of town.” Continue reading

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Re-use ideas have included fire station, affordable housing, senior center…

Ideas mentioned for the Curtis property include a building a replacement for the now-unmanned Fire Station No. 1 farther up Main Street. Renovating this existing station, however, would improve emergency response times in the northern part of town (the main reason cited for needing a new station) and keep the 1896 Curtis School intact.

After the 1896 Curtis School was no longer used for education purposes, it became home to the Hanover Police Department and the Hanover School Administration Offices. The schools’ central office personnel moved out of the building about 10 years ago and into the Salmond School on Broadway, which had been used as a temporary library during the John Curtis Free Library expansion project.

The town put out a request for proposals for the building, and received a few responses, none of which became reality. One was from a descendant of the Curtis family who wanted to convert the building into a professional office; another was from the Hanover Historical Society, which wanted to use the structure for storage and exhibition purposes.

The most frequently mentioned idea for the site is a new fire station. Many in town believe that tearing the building down now will ease the way for a new fire station to be built.

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How you can help…

If you are interested in helping to preserve the 1896 Curtis School, the most important thing you can do is come to the Annual Town Meeting on Monday, May 7, 2012, and vote in favor of Article 54.

Passage of the article will establish a task force, so volunteers will be needed to serve on that committee.

In the weeks leading up to town meeting, you can talk about this issue with your friends and neighbors and encourage them to support the article. You also could reach out to town officials to encourage their support, write a Letter to the Editor of the Mariner, and spread the word through social media channels.

This site will be constantly refreshed with additional information. To contact the town meeting article’s sponsor, e-mail Chris Haraden at charaden@comcast.net.

Thank you!

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Frequently Asked Questions…

This is the wording of the article that will appear on the May 7 Annual Town Meeting warrant:

As registered voters of the Town of Hanover, we hereby petition the Board of Selectmen (as allowed under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 39, Section 10) to insert the following article into the Warrant for the Annual Town Meeting to be held on Monday, May 7, 2012:

“To see if the Town will vote to rescind its vote under Article 28 of the May 2, 2011 Annual Town Meeting, and to direct the Hanover Historical Commission to appoint a Curtis School Task Force to conduct a comprehensive review, involving any applicable town departments, boards, committees, community groups, and private parties, of all available data and options for the building and land at 848 Main Street, including, but not limited to, repair, renovation, alteration, adaptive reuse, sale or lease of structures. Said Task Force shall issue its report and recommendations no later than the next Annual Town Meeting, or to take any other action in relation thereto.”

What is the purpose of this article?

The purpose of this article is to establish a process by which the town conducts a comprehensive study of the options available for preserving the building known as theCurtisSchool. Under Section 6-26, the bylaw establishing the demolition delay, the Hanover Historical Commission is empowered to “adopt such rules and regulations as are necessary to administer the terms of this bylaw.”

This article would create a committee empowered to deal with town officials, departments, and private parties, including potential grant sources, on preservation options. As it stands right now, there is no formal, step-by-step process in Hanover by which threatened buildings are studied to determine whether adaptive reuse or outright preservation is an option.

What is the intended use of the building?

This article was not submitted to promote a particular use of the structure. It is intended to cast a wide net to solicit and explore potential uses.

Didn’t we already delay the demolition for a year for that purpose? Continue reading

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