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Should The Town Purchase The Clark Tavern?

Do you think the town should purchase the Clark Tavern? If so, how? Would you support a Community Preservation Act? Weigh in on the issue in the comment box.

 

The former Clark Tavern, a piece of Medfield history, is for sale for $450,000.

According to Medfield Town Historian Richard DeSorgher,

It was a stagecoach stop on the Hartford-Boston Turnpike, also known as the Middle Road, going from Boston down to New York City. Many a weary traveler stayed over night before continuing the long stagecoach trip.  Nathan Hale, of history book fame, who was sent by General George Washington to spy on the British in New York City and who was captured and hung, stayed in the Clark Tavern. Hale’s immortal words “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” are an important part of our nation's history.

In addition,

During the occupation of Boston, minutemen from Connecticut were sent up as far as Medfield to guard the turnpike in the event the British tried to break out of Boston and head for New York City. The Connecticut militia used the Clark Tavern as their headquarters. The Post Office was kept there from 1809-1818.

Now the property is for sale. Do you think the town should buy the property? Why or why not? 

If so, how would the town pay for the purchase, and what would happen to the property afterward (and who would pay for that)?

Would you support adopting a local Community Preservation Act?

According to the Community Preservation Coalition, the CPA...

...allows communities to create a local Community Preservation Fund for open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing and outdoor recreation. Community preservation monies are raised locally through the imposition of a surcharge of not more than 3% of the tax levy against real property, and municipalities must adopt CPA by ballot referendum. (View a map of all CPA communities; learn more about CPA adoption).

As of November, 155 of the state's 351 cities and towns have adopted the CPA, according to the site.

Nearby communities that have adopted the CPA include Sharon, Needham, Wellesley, Norfolk, Millis, Medway, Holliston, Hopkinton, Ashland, and many more.

Tell us in the comments. What would you like done with the Clark Tavern and, if it is a purchase and/or renovation, would you consider adopting the Community Preservation Act? 

Richard DeSorgher January 03, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Make no mistake, the Clark Tavern needs to be saved but the Town of Medfield can not keep buying houses. Medfield has to get creative and work ways to keep its historic character without always going to the taxpayers. Numerous capital building expenses are on the horizon. With little industrial zoned land, the bulk of the tax burden falls on the property owner. Even if the historic house was purchased, there still would be an additional expense in restoring the building. Which raises the question of what the town would do with the house? It would take an enthusiastic and committed group to work on that, and their efforts would be going to the same well as the fundraising efforts of the Dwight-Derby House, the Lowell Mason House and the Grist Mill. Make no mistake the loss of the Clark Tavern will impact Medfield, its character and indirectly our property values as a community. I believe it would make a profitable Tavern/ B&B but that would have to come from the private sector. But still, its future is critical to us and we need to get creative. Suggestions to follow in the next post
Richard DeSorgher January 03, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Suggestions: 1. Seriously look at East Main Street, including the Clark Tavern, being voted as a historic district, which would save its demolition 2. Work with the Planning Board on re-examining current zoning regulations as to what type of housing can be built in the downtown areas including East Main Street 3. A committee to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the Community Preservation Act and report to Town Meeting. 4. A joint-effort by the town and the owner, along with our state and federal representatives, to explore all grant monies, both private and public, that could be used in the help of the sale of the Clark Tavern. 5. Discussion with the Historical Society, the Zullo Gallery, and other civic groups for group purchase of the Tavern to be joined with the Peak House in a mini Sturbridge Village setting. Even exploring partnership with the Wampanoag Nation for usage as a King Philip War Museum. 6. Passage of the area, including the Clark Tavern, into the proposed Cultural District, working to develop Medfield as a destination community with cultural and historic draws to the community.
Georgianna W. Oliver January 03, 2013 at 03:05 PM
I'm new to Medfield and I am in awe of the history of the town. These are some great ideas. Isn't there land included with the property? Couldn't the land be separated from the building and developed?
Richard DeSorgher January 03, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Georgianna, There is only about 3/4 acres of land with the Clark Tavern. The current owner divided the property and has put all the surrounding land, except one future house lot, in a conservation restriction, preventing development of the back acres.
Blanchard Warren January 03, 2013 at 07:37 PM
As a last resort, the town should buy the tavern. It should be saved no matter the cost. Perhaps a committeee should be established to explore all possibilities.
Will E January 03, 2013 at 11:04 PM
I appreciate the efforts of historians and preservationists, but the town doesn't have any business buying another old house. The Lowell Mason House is currently an eyesore on Green Street - hopefully with donations and the talents of volunteers they can at least improve the exterior of that structure.
Georgianna W. Oliver January 04, 2013 at 10:38 PM
I wonder if the developer buying Lord's (that also owns the Mobil site) has looked at purchasing the Clark Tavern? Surely as part of their due diligence of comparable real estate in the town they considered this purchase and chose not to pursue it. ...otherwise it would not be listed for sale. I guess I answered my own question.
jthompson January 05, 2013 at 03:10 PM
I think the Historical Society should sell its building and relocate to Main Street, it would then be a gateway building to the town, and provide excellent visibility for the Society, and its next door to the Peak House.
Dave Clark January 05, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Richard; Would it be possible to get the National Trust for Historic Preservation (in Washington) involved?

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