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Fitchburg Historical Society Enters New Era With Sale of Former Headquarters
Historic Preservation Blog from PreservationDirectory.com - Fitchburg, architecture, historical society
Contributed By: Susan Navarre
Email The Author: welcome@fitchburghistoricalsociety.com
Website: http://www.fitchburghistoricalsociety.com/

Fitchburg Historical Society Enters New Era With Sale of Former Headquarters
The Fitchburg Historical Society is announcing the sale of its original library building on Grove Street, as part of the full relocation of its headquarters to the historic Phoenix Building on Main Street. Fifty Grove Street was built in 1911, on land donated to the Fitchburg Historical Society by its founding president, James F.D. Garfield. Garfield also organized the fundraising drive that paid for the construction of the building. It was designed in an elegant Georgian Revival style by Fitchburg’s most important Victorian-era architects, Henry M. Francis and Sons.

The purchaser of the building is Rick Boscardin, of Fifty Grove Street Realty Trust, who is owner and developer of several properties in downtown Fitchburg and surrounding communities.

“This is a big step for the Fitchburg Historical Society,” according to the organization’s President, Amy Green. “We have a long-term strategy of attracting larger audiences and new supporters to the Historical Society. Our programs create new opportunities and quality of life for Fitchburg locals, while we also serve as a tourist destination from more distant communities.” 

“The sale of 50 Grove Street provides many advantages to the city of Fitchburg,” continues Green, who is the owner of Back N Touch Wellness Center and the Vice President of the Fitchburg City Council. “The overhead costs of caring for two buildings has been onerous for the Historical Society…now we do not have to commit so much of our annual budget to our buildings: we can concentrate on improving the Phoenix Building. In addition, the new owner will develop the property so that it will become a more active part of Fitchburg’s downtown area.”

“We have been planning this for a long time,” says Fitchburg Historical Society Treasurer James Reynolds. “With the major investments being made in Fitchburg’s Main Street and North of Main neighborhood by Fitchburg State, the City of Fitchburg, New Vue Communities and the Fitchburg Art Museum, the consolidation of the Fitchburg Historical Society’s activities in the Phoenix building is a vital part of the city’s downtown Renaissance.”

The Fitchburg Historical Society purchased and renovated the former Fitchburg Mutual Fire Insurance Building in 2007, in order to create a larger, more visible library and museum space on Main Street. The Campaign for the Phoenix Building was led by Sally Dickinson, retired owner of Portals Marketing, and Eleanor Gilmartin, of Fitchburg. A major gift was later received from Jeanne
Crocker and Bigelow Crocker, Jr. that funded a new elevator and full ADA
accessibility; with additional funding from the Mass Cultural Council Cultural
Facilities Fund. Exhibitions and operations were begun at the Phoenix Building
in October 2012.  

“We hit the ground running in 2012, and immediately started providing educational programs, history exhibitions and a research library to the public,” says Executive Director Susan Navarre. “We are proud of the work that we have done to make sure that every citizen in Fitchburg is aware of our programs and services. With programs like the Holiday House Tour, the annual Iver Johnson bike 
exhibitions, and our history exhibitions, we are increasingly known and respected throughout New England and the nation.”

The Fitchburg Historical Society is located at 781 Main Street, Fitchburg in the historic Phoenix building. There is abundant on-street parking near the Historical Society and free parking behind the building. The building is handicapped accessible. For more information, call 978-345-1157, email welcome@fitchburghistoricalsociety.com, visit www.fitchburghistoricalsociety.org or https://www.facebook.com/FitchburgHistoricalSociety.

The Fitchburg Historical Society was founded by James F.D. Garfield in 1892. The
Fitchburg Historical Society is an independent non-profit that was created to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. It hosts lectures, debates and annual events relating to the city’s history and is supported by the George R. Wallace Jr. Foundation, the MCC Cultural Facilities Fund, the Fitchburg Cultural Council, and MassHumanities.

Keywords: Fitchburg, architecture, historical society

Posted: December 18, 2018
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