Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mega Merger In The Making?

Jones Library, Amherst town center

At last night's Community Preservation Act Committee meeting, while advocating for $20,000 to do an archaeological site survey of the Strong House historic property in town center, Jim Wald mentioned the Amherst Historical Society is considering a future alliance with the Jones Library, their immediate neighbor.

Click to enlarge/read

Thus the archaeological survey (which will use ground-penetrating radar) will come in handy when the Jones Library doubles in size, possibly using Strong House property.  Since the Strong House is such a historical treasure the state would require an archaeological survey prior to any construction taking place anywhere on their property.

 Simeon Strong House, home to Amherst History Museum

Jim Wald also pointed out the 1750-era Strong House was originally a home designed for Simeon Strong, an upper crust Amherst resident (the original 1%).   Now as a public museum it houses over 1,500 artifacts related to the history of our town.

The Jones Library expansion could provide plenty of climate controlled, handicapped accessible space to help store precious artifacts under museum control possibly including the only known surviving dress of Amherst's most famous resident, Emily Dickinson.

Strong House left, Jones Library right

Last spring Town Meeting approved $25,000 in design money (matched by a $50,000 state grant) to get the ball rolling on an expansion that would double the size of the current Library.

The last time the Jones was expanded/renovated was in 1993.  The state would pay half the cost of the renovation/expansion, with a total price tag in the $10 million range. 

Of course the Jones Library will have to get in line with competing major construction projects looming on the horizon, including the forever talked about South Fire Station, a new Department of Public Works building and the renovation or demolition of Wildwood Elementary School.


Anonymous said...

Great place for the historic Civil War Tablets that couldn't be supported on the walls in the Town Room.

Anonymous said...

Good, maybe they will finally move ED's dress out of that tinderbox before it's too late. Richard Marsh

Anonymous said...

It would be sad to have the Strong House turned into a wing of the library. Why not swap the CVS parking lot with part the town parking lot? Then build the Jones addition backward, behind the library? There would still be room for parking.

Preserve the Strong House for the historic gem it is, probably the only house and lot in downtown that is in its orginal state.

Walter Graff said...

The Strong House IS a gem. A great place to visit, and a wonderful place to take photographs. Nicely run. Well maintained. If joining the library will give them more money to run, I'm all for it.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that the CVS parking lot is privately owned? So you can't do whatever you want with it.

I just love Amherst's attitude about private property: "what's yours is, in reality, everybody's".