North Adams must match state Historical Commission's $50k award for Notre Dame Church repairs


NORTH ADAMS — The city has been awarded $50,000 from the state for emergency repairs to the Notre Dame du Sacre Coeur Church on East Main Street, and now must match it with $50,000 of its own.

A proposal to match a $50,000 commitment from the Massachusetts Historical Commission with $50,000 from the city's reserve fund is expected to be brought the City Council by Mayor Richard Alcombright at its regularly scheduled meeting next week, he told The Eagle on Monday.

The funding would be used to stabilize the historic church building at 225 East Main St. before winter weather sets in and potentially does more damage to its exterior. Several of the building's buttresses were found to be in dangerous condition earlier this year, largely thanks to water damage after several of the church's gutters were vandalized.

In a report to the city after a visual inspection conducted in June, engineer Bernard Hunt wrote "The church building structure must be repaired immediately to avoid partial or a major building collapse under building service loads which include gravity, wind, snow and seismic."

The inspection found that some buttresses had already collapsed or were near collapse, but the damage did not appear to extend to the interior of the building. The repairs were estimated at just more than $210,000.

The church, which closed more than a decade ago, was constructed in 1875 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city purchased it in 2007.

"I am pleased to award the city of North Adams, an emergency grant in the amount of $50,000 to address as many of the emergency repairs as possible," wrote Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, who serves as the chairman of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, in an August letter to Alcombright.

As to how far the $100,000 would go toward repairing the building, Building Inspector William Meranti said "we're working to get a handle on it," but the work will include adding gutters and rebuilding the buttresses most in need of repair.

"First and foremost we need to control the water," Meranti said.

Alcombright said he intends to apply for another $50,000 in non-emergency grant funding from the Massachusetts Historical Commission later this year. That funding would again need to be matched by the city.

The administration's plan is still to sell the building, and Alcombright said the city has a request for proposals mostly complete. He said the city would likely wait until repairs are underway to issue the request for proposals.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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