Agawam takes 1st move toward preserving landmark Captain Charles Leonard House

AGAWAM — Except if the city can find money for repairs, a historic tavern on Major Avenue may collapse into “a rotted pile of wooden and a cellar hole,” warns Philip Kimball.

The Captain Charles Leonard Property, created a lot more than 200 years in the past to serve stagecoach riders touring amongst Hartford and Boston, is showing its age. Kimball, a member of the board of trustees that operates the house as a nonprofit banquet corridor, stated $19,074 authorised by the Town Council for a preservation plan is just the initially move. Wood is rotting all above the exterior — including load-bearing columns. Plumbing and electrical programs dating again to the 1930s pose a constant fireplace or flooding threat. All 48 windows want changing. He said the cost tag will run into the hundreds of thousands, far beyond what the trustees can increase on their own.

“It’s likely to be a ton of funds,” Kimball claimed. “The dwelling is from 1805, and it rots as you look at it.”

Jablonski-Devriese Architects of Springfield, the lowest of a few bidders, will assess the property and get ready the preservation plan. Jablonski-Devriese has received design and style awards for its preservation work at the Barney Carriage Dwelling in Forest Park and the Stitzer Heart at Springfield Higher education.

Before voting 8- in favor of the preservation system at their June 7 meeting, numerous city councilors reported it’s funds perfectly used.

“We never want to eliminate the charm in Agawam,” mentioned Councilor Dino Mercadante. “If we start erasing items because we never want to make investments in them, we forget about who we are, the place we came from.”

Water hurt is apparent even within the Captain Charles Leonard Home, exactly where the wall masking in the Faucet Space has break up.

Councilor George Bitzas stated the Leonard Property is one of only a few properties from the 1800s nonetheless standing in Agawam. He reported the job deserves the council’s entire guidance, each for the renovation designs and for the eventual renovation expenses.

Both equally he and Councilor Gerald Smith said tasks like this are the purpose Agawam participates in the Community Preservation Act, a program below which a 1% surcharge is extra to all assets tax expenditures. CPA dollars is saved different from the town’s yearly spending plan and can only be used on economical housing, historical preservation, open space or recreation tasks.

The $19,074 charge of the preservation prepare will appear fully from CPA cash. In April, the CPA fund experienced a stability of $3.71 million, of which $640,065 was earmarked especially for historic preservation jobs, and $2.10 million was offered for any objective. An additional $723,000 from nearby tax surcharges and condition matching grants will be additional to the CPA fund this calendar year.

Rotted wood at the Captain Charles Leonard House in Agawam, Mass.

Philip Kimball, one particular of the trustees of the Captain Charles Leonard Home, examines rotted wooden below the kitchen and back again porch of the historical home in Agawam.

Kimball explained the trustees plan to start off a capital campaign to defray part of the value of renovations, but he doesn’t feel they can increase the “hundreds of countless numbers of dollars” required to make the structural repairs with non-public donations alone. He predicted that the trustees will question the CPA to contribute most of the funding.

Considering the fact that the property was restored by Minerva Davis in the 1930s, a volunteer board of trustees has managed the residence with no any subsidy from the city or point out. Their major source of revenue is rentals of the dwelling as a banquet corridor, internet hosting weddings, relatives events, company retreats, club meetings and group gatherings. The trustees also commonly operate a sequence of fundraiser activities during the 12 months, which include beer and wine tastings sponsored by McCarthy’s Liquors, and themed dinners.

The trustees also lease two residences on the higher degree of the house. Though the flats remain occupied, COVID-19 wiped out an entire year of purpose and fundraiser revenues. Kimball mentioned a bridal shower previously this thirty day period was his to start with booked function given that the start out of the pandemic.

“We basically have had no income for 15 months,” he explained. “We’ve been likely in the gap each thirty day period.”

Kimball mentioned each time funds has run small, the trustees have dug into their personal pockets to make up the variation. Some, like Kimball himself, also add their labor. In latest weeks, Kimball has rewired a number of light-weight switches and electrical outlets. He points to areas the place he and other trustees have changed picket blocks or repainted moldings in an work to keep ahead of the deterioration.

Captain Charles Leonard House on Main Street in Agawam, Mass.

The Captain Charles Leonard Residence, a stagecoach tavern developed in 1805 on Agawam’s Most important Road, desires hundreds of countless numbers of dollars in repairs, its nonprofit board of trustees claims.

He mentioned the trustees can consider treatment of working day-to-working day maintenance, but they need to have to employ gurus for larger-ticket products these as replacing the windows, taking away the out of date oil tank and boiler, bringing the electrical wiring up to code, and getting out outdated brass drinking water pipes.

In letters despatched to the Metropolis Council, several Agawam people registered their aid for preserving the Leonard Household.

Robert Kadis, chairman of the Agawam Cultural Fee, identified as the previous tavern “precious not only to the cultural standing of our group, but in the eyes of the Greater Springfield place. … If destinations like the Captain Charles Leonard Household are permitted to slip absent, prospects are great we’ll never ever reclaim them.”

“It is of important worth that this jewel of Agawam’s Center Historic District be taken care of,” wrote Susan Scantlen, president of the Agawam Historic Association.

Gas boiler at the Captain Charles Leonard House in Agawam, Mass.

The Captain Charles Leonard Property no for a longer time takes advantage of this gas-fired boiler, but its asbestos insulation will make getting rid of it a expensive proposition.

Kimball reported he expects Jablonski-Devriese to complete its report by November. The report will incorporate a listing of projects essential to hold the household open up. He reported the trustees will then build a system to spread out the renovation initiatives over several decades, starting in 2022.