The Recorder – Sears building in Greenfield honored by historic preservation nonprofit

Published: 04/14/2022 16:14:11

Modified: 04/14/2022 16:13:03

GREENFIELD – The former Sears building on Main Street, which currently houses the Greenfield Center for Wellness, was one of nine buildings recently recognized by Preservation Massachusetts.

The Paul & Niki Tsongas Award is billed as “Preservation Massachusetts’s highest honor,” according to the nonprofit organization’s website. The award recognizes individuals and projects that have demonstrated a significant commitment to historic preservation. A celebration honoring the recipients will be held May 11 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston.

“Having an outside body recognize something that has been done in town is very encouraging,” said Historic Commission Chairman John Passiglia. “It justifies that we are working towards a good thing. Getting that support is nice.

The building at 102 Main St., which opened as the Greenfield Center for Wellness in 2018, housed the Sears and Roebuck department store from 1929 to 1993, according to Sears records. The building itself had long been abandoned by the time the health care center moved in.

“We worked with (the Greenfield Center for Wellness) on the plans…when they started renovating it and working on that facade,” Passiglia recalls. “It’s really important for us at the commission to try to encourage owners and potential owners, when they’re doing the renovation, to try to consider not just the historic inventory of the building, but the city ​​landscape.”

In the case of buildings like the Old Sears Building – which was one of the first Sears stores in Massachusetts when it opened nearly a century ago – the exterior facade is as important to consider as the age of the building. a building.

“The Sears building is not from the 18th century, but it has a certain allure,” he explained. “Each of these buildings on Main Street has a certain character, and we want to encourage potential developers and landowners to take that into account when doing this type of work.”

He cited buildings such as the old Rooney Building, where the Greenfield Gallery is located, and the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center, as examples.

“A number of these buildings have been revitalized and renovated, but they still look great – and we want to help people preserve that,” Passiglia said.

He said there’s a balance the community aims to achieve moving forward while preserving the “fabric of a classic New England town.” Passiglia added that locally, the Historical Commission launched its own award last year in an effort to recognize developers who achieve this.

“We want to recognize the efforts of what these developers have done to go beyond preservation,” he said.

The first Peter S. Miller Historic Preservation Award recognized the Olive Street Parking Garage for its preservation of circa 1929 transportation-themed reliefs that were rescued prior to the demolition of the Sweeney Ford dealership at 1 Main St. , as well as for the use of historical themes throughout the structure.

“We’re always thrilled when people can renovate structures in the city,” he said. “I think it’s a big win for the city because we don’t have a lot of older buildings compared to what we had 30, 40 or 50 years ago. Before you know it, decades pass and you start to lose the vibe of the city if you don’t actively work with people (to preserve it).

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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