To the editor of the EAGLE:

I have read with interest the Eagle's reports on the proposed conversion of the Williamsville Inn to a drug treatment center for adolescents. As the matter of permitting this new business comes before the Zoning Board of Appeals, I would urge the West Stockbridge community to consider the crucial -- and all too fragile -- role of historic preservation in Berkshire County.

Whether we were born here or moved here, we all have an innate appreciation of the generations who came before us -- the way they built, they way they used the fields and rivers, the way they worshipped. It is a heritage that enriches us, and as citizens, it is our duty to sustain it.

The Williamsville Inn sits on a property that was once contained within the historic Tom Ball Farm, named for the Mahican Indian who sold it to early settler Christopher French in 1797. The original structure, a large plank house, was added to over the decades and became an inn property in 1952 -- a well-worn pathway for historic structures in rural New England.

Its transformation into a wholly different enterprise would represent a radical break from the evolution of this property. It would put at risk a tangible asset of Berkshire County history, which once lost can never be regained.

JOSEPH POINDEXTER

Southfield

The writer is president of the New Marlborough Historical Society.