FSU wins preservation award for 1812 House

[Allie Gath]

The University received the Preservation Award from the Framingham Historical Commission for the restoration of the historic 1812 House.

President F. Javier Cevallos accepted the award from on May 26 at Edgell Memorial Library.

“It was relatively brief. Each awardee made some comments about the projects that were recognized,” Cevallos said in an email. FSU was among the five recipients of the award from ten nominations.

The 1812 House was part of a three-plot land purchase FSU began negotiating in 2012.

The decision to build West Hall meant reduced parking in the Maynard Lot. Warren Fairbanks, associate vice president of facilities and capital planning, said the University decided to level the apartment complexes and the additions to the 1812 House that were included in the purchase.

The original house was built after the Revolutionary War and was Seiler’s 1812 House, a well-known restaurant, for several decades in the early-to mid-20th century.

Although the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System lists the 1812 House, FSU had received permission for demolition from the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

The MHC determined the house did not “retain sufficient integrity of setting, context, materials and association.”

However, after some discussion with the Framingham Historical Commission, “Framingham State University opted to sensitively rehabilitate,” according to the Historical Commission’s website.

The house was condemned and needed to be completely redone, said Fairbanks.

According to Dale Hamel, executive vice president there is a previous connection to the university through the original owner, James Watson Brown, who donated two acres of land in 1853 to the public school that would become FSU.

The restoration cost $1.2 million. FSU provided $465,000, said Hamel.

Hamel said with the legislative support of Chris Walsh, state representative and architect, the state provided $400,000 and the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education provided $375,000 from 2014 and 2015.

The grants were contingent on the house becoming the MetroWest College Planning Center and its restoration, said Hamel.

The center is a collaboration between MassBay Community College and FSU to provide college planning to high school and adult students, according to Erica Reyes, senior advisor and coordinator for the MetroWest College Planning Center.

The MetroWest College Planning Center began operating in 2014 in a temporary location on campus and was moved the 1812 House after its repair.

Reyes said “Our location definitely contributes to the students’ experience…because we’re right next to FSU, they can walk next door and get a tour.”

The first floor is fully furnished and operational, but the second is still a work in progress since the center is grant funded, said Reyes.

Lucy Ramirez, an FSU senior and community outreach specialist, said, “I love this place. It feels like a home – a safe zone.”

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