The Westford Historical Commission announced recently that it has received $70,000 grant from Massachusetts Historical Commission for a restoration to the Westford Museum, most of which will go to rehabilitate the building’s roof.
Once located across from the Town Common, the building dates back to 1794, where it served as the first home of Westford Academy.
A move in the early 1900s brought the building to its current location at the beginning of Boston Road, a location that has impacted its structure with flooding over the years due to a very high water table.
Outside of a $5,000 emergency repair request for the roof a few years ago, the Westford Historical Commission has been slowly obtaining the needed funds for a full rehabilitation of the building in what Westford Historical Commission chairman David Gutbrod describes as a very complicated process.
Between earlier funding from the Community Preservation Act allocated to Westford and this latest grant, it now appears that reconstruction can begin in the fall on what Gutbrod calls the most important priority for his committee.
And despite the general consensus that grants of more than $50,000 are never awarded by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, with the help of local public officials like Town Manager Jodi Ross and State Representative Jim Arciero, the funding became a reality.
“Whether or not this would have gotten done without the grant is another question,” says Gutbrod. “I couldn’t say it wouldn’t have gotten done, but this definitely makes it a lot easier.”
The expectation is that there will be a minimal amount of disruption inside during the rehabilitation and that the project itself can help spur restoration elsewhere in town.
While a building like this one that was the schoolhouse for Paul Revere’s children might be well known, Gutbrod wants people to know that there are many others like it in town adding value to Westford’s surroundings.
“Many of us have driven past and not thought twice about it, but when we learn about it, it adds value to that drive,” says Gutbrod. “That’s something we’re trying to preserve not just on Boston Road, but around town.”