Cowls barn, 134 Montague Road, North Amherst
After impassioned pleas by North Amherst neighbors with no vested interest other than visual, the Amherst Historical Commission voted unanimously (4 yes, 3 absent) to impose a "one year demolition delay" on W.D. Cowls, the largest private landowner in the state, doing business in the town of Amherst before there was a town of Amherst.
Amherst Historical Commission
The barn sits immediately behind and looms over the Cowls family farmhouse -- built in 1768 -- which now serves as company headquarters.
Cinda Jones failed to convince the Amherst Historical Commission to allow demolition
The barn is within spitting distance of the cow barn @ 113 Cowls Road that will be almost completely dismantled and rebuilt for the selling pleasure of Atkins Farms Country Market, a relative newcomer at just over 100 years of doing business in the far south end of town.
Cow barn: future home of Atkins Farms Country Market
More than a dozen friendly neighbors showed up to oppose demolition
The cost to repair the barn for agricultural reuse approached $250,000, which would not provide a viable return on investment. The current preferred plan is to donate the salvageable wood to the Emily Dickinson Homestead for an interpretive historically accurate barn raising on the property.
Q: What would you put in place of the #historic barn? A: Parking is 1 option. (Geez why don’t you stick a gun in your mouth? That was fatal)
— CitizenWald (@CitizenWald) July 23, 2014
The one year delay does have an "escape clause" whereby the owner can come back in three or four months showing that there are no economically viable solutions to save the structure, and the delay could be lifted.
The Historical Commission seemed genuinely troubled over enacting the full delay, pointing out that Ms. Jones had already done many of the things an owner is expected to do AFTER the one year delay is imposed.
Barn with 1 year stay of execution (left) Atkins new north location (right)