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Boston — The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) today issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the rehabilitation, reuse, and maintenance of the historic farmhouse at Lake Wyola State Park / Carroll Holmes Recreation Area in Shutesbury, Massachusetts. Utilizing a unique public-private partnerships program, the DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program works with outside parties to rehabilitate, manage, and maintain historic properties in return for credit toward a long-term lease. The deadline for responses regarding the use of the farmhouse is set for Thursday, December 7, 2017. An open house to assess the interior of the building is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, October 28, 2017, from 11:00AM-2:00PM. Interested parties can find the application documents and additional information on the Historic Curatorship Program’s webpage.
“The Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to fostering public-private partnerships that enable state government and private entities to join together to achieve shared goals,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy. “The preservation of the farmhouse at Lake Wyola State Park serves as an excellent example of the valuable history contained within the state parks system, and it is vital that it is safeguarded for future generations.”
The Lake Wyola Farmhouse consists of three sections: the original structure is a late eighteenth-century Federal house built circa 1785; the middle section was added in the early nineteenth century; and the right hand section was added circa 1840. Additionally, the house and barn have served many functions over the past three centuries, from a 18th and 19th century farmhouse, to a tavern and inn during the second half of the 19th century, to a popular vacation resort in the 20th century. When the farmhouse was converted into a resort by the Bennett Family in the early-mid 20th century, the first floor was converted to a dining room, kitchen, parlor and bar, while the second story was divided into nine guest rooms and a dance hall.
Under DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program, curators are selected through an open and competitive process. The program has resulted in very successful partnerships across the state that represent a diverse range of building types and reuses, including residential farmhouses to a mountaintop restaurant and inn (Bascom Lodge at Mt. Greylock State Reservation), a premier events facility (Willowdale Estate at Bradley Palmer State Park), a restored house museum (Crosby Mansion, Nickerson State Park), and artist live-work lofts (Baker Administration Building, Dorchester).
The Historic Curatorship Program requires that the property is used in a way that is compatible with the historic building, the park, and the surrounding community. The open and competitive selection process of curators is based on a number of criteria, such as the overall quality of the proposal, experience in restoration and historic preservation, financial resources, and the proposed incorporation of public benefits. Curators must provide public access to the property at least two times a year. The RFP provides information on the property and the Historic Curatorship Program, outlines the response requirements, describes DCR’s criteria for evaluating proposals for selection, and provides conditions assessments, cost estimates and other background material to assist in the preparation of a proposal.
Since the DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program’s inception in 1994, over $21 million in private funds have been leveraged toward the preservation of twenty-three of the state’s unused but historically significant properties. The program has become a national model, inspiring other government entities to add this innovative public-private partnership to their preservation toolbox.