PITTSFIELD -- Restoration of the historic Springside House could cost $2.2 million based on the city's proposed reuse strategy for the 19th century mansion.
Pittsfield Parks and Open Space Manager James McGrath unveiled the potential price tag during Monday night's public meeting at City Hall as part of the ongoing consultant-led feasibility study to determine Springside's future.
City officials and representatives of CME Associates Inc. of Woodstock, Conn., the firm hired to assess the vacant three-story building, expect the $30,000 state-funded study to wrap up in late June.
"I know it seems a little pricey, but it's a great investment in future uses for Springside House," said CME architect Lynn Smith.
Based on public input over the last six weeks, Smith displayed drawings of Springside that could include a visitor/enviromental center, museum/exhibition space, and one or two apartments that could generate income for the property.
The upgrade would also involve the installation of an elevator, handicap accessible bathrooms, extensive painting and repairs, especially to a crumbling brick foundation due to water runoff from the roof. The roof has been replaced, Smith has said, but not before some water damage occurred in the upper-level rooms of the 26-room mansion.
If the city undertakes the restoration, McGrath anticipates a multi-year and much-needed restoration of the 170-year-old house.
"The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be," he said. "We wait and more water gets into the house and there's the threat of vandalism and fire."
McGrath says a variety of funding sources, such as historic restoration grants and in-kind services, could help pay for the restoration.
The Miller family, one-time owners of The Berkshire Eagle, bought Springside House in 1938 and two years later donated it to the city for use by the Parks Department, until 2007. While vacant, McGrath says the structure located within the 260-acre city-owned Springside Park has several alarm systems, a working natural gas furnace and is occasionally used for special functions on the first floor.
According to preliminary plans, a restored Springside would have a visitors center, classroom and exhibit space, a museum and an apartment all at ground level.
"Fortunately, Springside is very accommodating with its variety of spaces on the first floor," Smith said.
Preliminary plans for the second floor show either another apartment or the second level to the first floor apartment, and office space for city or non-profit use, or both. The top floor would have more office space, meeting room and storage for the proposed museum.
Another concept showed only a second-floor apartment with additional office space, rather than an apartment on the first floor.
No matter what final restoration plan the city settles on, Springside will maintain its current look, according to McGrath.
"What both schemes don't do is chop up the house or [reconfigure] the rooms," he said.
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