Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blaisdell House and the Horse barn at Umass Amherst on the move.

Well, well, well... yesterday I was just posting some pictures of Old and New UMass and including a couple of shots of the Blaisdell House and Horse Barn. This morning I open up GazetteNet and there is a story about how those buildings will be moved. I feel badly for the bunny rabbits, birds, squirrels, and other wild life (cats included) that make their homes there. I don't feel too badly for the skunks I guess. I don't know what they will do the with vacated space. My guess they will pave it over. If we are lucky maybe they will green it over, but given how crowded the parking lot is by the new recreation center during fall, winter, and spring.. I can only speculate that it will become parking. Anyway, here is the article from the Gazette by Ben Storrow-


And here are some quotes from that:

 "The project involves moving two buildings to the North Pleasant Street farm - an 1894 horse barn and the Blaisdell House, formerly the original farm manager's residence. No new construction is planned. Officials pegged the cost of moving the barn and converting it into classroom and office space at $5 million, while costs for moving and renovating the Blaisdell house are still being developed, they said."

"The barn, among the last remaining agricultural structures on campus, and the Blaisdell House now sit next to the physical plant on Commonwealth Avenue. Officials said the two buildings will be sited in the northwestern section of the Wysocki Farm along North Pleasant Street.
Dennis Swinford, director of campus planning, said the project fulfilled several different needs for the university.
"This is the last barn on our campus," Swinford said. Moving it up to the 40 acres on Wysocki Farm "saves the barn, starts the agricultural learning center and uses a site near the middle of campus," he said."

"The center's projected opening date is 2014. But Herbert said he is hopeful that some aspects of the new center will be up and running by next year to coincide with the university's 150th anniversary. That would be a fitting tribute to a school whose founding mission was, in part, to enhance agriculture in Massachusetts, he said.
"It would be nice, from an agricultural point of view, to have the center started by next year to help celebrate that event," Herbert said."

The article only talks about the new project, it doesn't mention what will become of the space being vacated by the buildings. Still I find it interesting that I have been speculating for a while how long these two old buildings would last where they are. New construction is happening all around them. Behind them, down by the parking garage, the old Physical Plant is being dismantled. The recreation center and the band building are both new. The new dorms are being built. Dickinson is no longer the police station (that got moved up to the area by Tillson Farm last year, next to the fire station). If the Old Chapel wasn't such a landmark in the center of campus they would tear that down too. I wonder if they will ever fill in the campus pond. After all, that wasn't part of the original campus. It was a stream in the beginning, and made into a pond only a few years after the college had been founded.

Ugh.. so much for historical preservation. Umass is marching, not creeping, further into the surrounding communities, taking up more of North Amherst in this case, and history is being forgotten and being rewritten all the time. So sad.