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Yankee Explores Historic Preservation Issues

Yankee Explores Historic Preservation Issues
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Dublin, New Hampshire (March 2008)–Yankee Magazine’s March/April issue examines a failed attempt to preserve the Skinner Coffee House in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The structure, a former hotel that had served as a community center for Holyoke’s immigrant neighborhoods since 1916, was located on Main Street. The 19th-century building was demolished in May 2006 despite community efforts to save it.

In a graduate-level workshop at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Professor Joseph Krupczynski, an architectural designer with experience in urban renewal, charged his students with the goal of coming up with a plan to save the Coffee House. However, despite their endeavors and support from the city’s residents, including compassion for their mission from Holyoke’s five-term mayor, Michael Sullivan, funding for the necessary renovations ultimately could not be obtained.

“The Skinner Coffee House had fallen into the impossible situation that so many other cultural treasures have over the past 60 years,” according to Justin Shatwell, the article’s author. “As affluent Americans abandoned their cities for suburbia, they left the architectural and historical gems of our urban past to those with the least means to preserve them. Unfortunately, in cities suffering from urban blight, when you ignore them, they really do just disappear.”

According to the article, Holyoke is not the only community facing similar difficult decisions. The following treasures are also under consideration for preservation or demolition: the Grunman-St. John House in Norwalk, Connecticut; the Nathan Clifford School in Portland, Maine; certain structures at the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst, Massachusetts; the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire; St. Ann’s Church in Woonscocket, Rhode Island; and the Lake Champlain Bridge in Chimney Point, Vermont.

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Updated Friday, April 25th, 2008

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