The Historical Commission is concerned with the preservation, promotion and development of the City's historical assets.
Current members include:
David Drake, Chair (term to October 2014)
Barbara Blumenthal, Vice Chair (term to October 2012)
Dylan Gaffney (term to October 2013)
Bruce Kriviskey (term to October 2010)
Craig Della Penna (to October 2014)
Sarah LaValley, Conservation, Preservation and Land Use Planner
Planning & Sustainability
210 Main Street, Rm. 11, City Hall
Northampton, MA 01060
ROLE OF THE HISTORICAL COMMISSION
MISSION: Established by city ordinance in 1973, the Northampton Historical Commission (NHC) is charged the “preservation, promotion and development of the historical assets of the city.”
ROLE OF THE HISTORICAL COMMISSION:
The Commission is the municipal link to the Massachusetts Historical Commission at the state level and the Department of Interior at the federal level. Commissioners are also responsible for the implementation of the Demolition Review Ordinance. The Commission proffers advice and comment on municipal matters which are relevant to the Commission’s mission as well as review projects which involve state or federal funds ("Section 106 reviews").
The Commission also assists residents in evaluating their property for historical or cultural significance to ascertain if the property qualifies for listing on the National Register of Historic Places or possible landmark status.
The seven members and two alternates serve on an uncompensated basis, are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by city council vote.
MEETINGS: Meetings are held regularly in the evening, generally on the last Monday of the month. A public comment period precedes each meeting and public involvement is invited.
PROPERTIES: Northampton has, on the National Register of Historic Places, six districts, six independent properties, three multiple property sites and two properties with historic deed restrictions. The Commission is presently undertaking the nomination process to place the Pomeroy Terrace Historic Area, Northampton-New Haven Canal site, Sojourner Truth homestead, and the Leeds, Water Street Hotel bridge to the National Register of Historic Places. Progress is subject to the availability of funds.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Each year, usually during National Preservation Week in May, the Commission presents awards for restoration, rehabilitation, and new construction projects that the Commission feels warrant recognition. Nominations are accepted from the public each year until March 31st.
COMMUNITY PROJECTS: The Commission replaced and rededicated a memorial bench overlooking burial grounds for residents of the Northampton State Hospital who were interred in unmarked graves. Members of the Commission are working with other community volunteers appointed by the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to memorialize Northampton State Hospital - its buildings, patients, and staff; one notable component of the memorialization is to refurbish the Victorian fountain which was located in front of the building known as "Old Main." Other Commission projects include completing the Downtown Florence Historical Survey and compiling a registry of public monuments. The Commission also encourages and reviews applications for funding submitted to the Community Preservation Committee , when those applications are for projects relating to historic resource preservation.
DEMOLITION REVIEW: Northampton is one of approximately 100 Massachusetts communities with a demolition delay ordinance. Northampton’s "Demolition Review" is a prerequisite review process prior to the issuance of a demolition permit. The ordinance protects properties from total demolition up to twelve months from the initial demolition request if, in the view of the Commission, the property is historically significant or has architectural or cultural merit. The ordinance covers all properties built in 1900 and earlier AND properties constructed from 1901-1939 IF they are listed on an inventory compiled by the Commission. The list of subject properties from 1901-1939 is available in the Building Department and Office of Planning and Development. Any permits for demolition must be originated through the City’s Building Department.