Chelmsford CPA project wins preservation award

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Chelmsford has used more than $5 million in Community Preservation Act funds in recent years to rehabilitate two historic buildings, one of which received a preservation award last month from the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

The North Town Hall, which won the award, received roughly $2.8 million in CPA funding for its transformation into a community center. The old Town Hall, which is now the Chelmsford Center for the Arts, received $2.4 million.

“My sense is that if the Community Preservation Act funds were not available, the town would have sold off the buildings for development,” said Town Manager Paul Cohen.

That almost certainly would have been the fate of the North Town Hall, which “had basically been in disrepair and neglect for generations,” Cohen added.

The North Town Hall was built in 1853, and beginning in the 1870s, Town Meeting took place there in alternate years. A second story was added in the 1880s. In the 20th century, however, the need for a second town hall declined. In the early 1990s, the building was put up for sale twice – first at $75,000 and then at $50,000 – but there were no takers, according to information compiled on behalf of the Chelmsford Community Center.

The two CPA-funded projects have spurred interest in renovating other town buildings, Cohen added.
Written by MMA Associate Editor Mitch Evich