State Historical Commission honors two recently restored Pittsfield buildings

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PITTSFIELD — A pair of recently refurbished 19th century downtown buildings are receiving architectural accolades from the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

The commission has cited Hotel on North on North Street and the Old Berkshire Athenaeum along Bank Row in Park Square.

Hotel on North is being honored in the category of Adaptive Reuse and Rehabilitation and Restoration for converting the Burns Block and Second Burns Block into a $14 million boutique hotel with amenities that opened last June 1.

The $4.3 million preservation of the original athenaeum also being recognized in the area of rehabilitation and restoration of the 1876 High Victorian Gothic-style structure.

The local projects will be feted at the commission's 38th Annual Preservation Awards ceremony on May 19 in Boston.

"It's real special and nice that people are willing to save these buildings," said John Dickson, chairman of the Pittsfield Historical Commission. "It's recognition of what Pittsfield has to offer, historically."

Two projects being honored at the same time in one community is special unto itself, according to David J. Tierney III

Tierney and his wife, Laurie, are the principal owners of Hotel on North run by the Main Street Hospitality Group, parent company of the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge.

"Being from the Berkshire, I'm glad to see the old library being honored," he said. "It's wonderful to see people save old [buildings] and not tear down historic structures and replace them with [modern] buildings."

Tierney's sister, Pittsfield-based architect Karen Hunt of Stephentown, N.Y., also has been singled out for her work in designing Hotel on North. On Wednesday, the commission will bestow on Hunt a Preservation Massachusetts 2016 Paul and Niki Tsongas Award as part of this year's theme, "Women in Preservation."

"She did great work as she could see past the piles of dirt and Sheetrock — it's fabulous what she can do," her brother said.

Located on the upper floors of 273 and 297 North St., Hotel on North has a mix of furnishings and decor that reflect the building's heritage. According to Tierney, 273 North St. was constructed around 1890 and 293 North St. in 1894.

One portion of the two buildings housed Besse-Clark, an upscale department store, from 1910 until it went out of business in April 1994. Besse-Clark was originally located on the ground floor. The department store's second floor wasn't added until 1940, according to Eagle files.

The hotel also has a restaurant, banquet and meeting facilities and a lobby bar and lounge.

The stone 19th century building on Bank Row that formerly housed the Berkshire Athenaeum now contains Berkshire Probate and Family Court and Berkshire Middle District Registry of Deeds. The 18-month renovation and rehabilitation project began in 2013.

Ford Gillen Architects of Amherst and general contractor Allegrone Construction of Pittsfield developed a plan to stabilize the bowing building, restore stonework and give it the electrical and accessibility upgrades that current building code required.

The original athenaeum was designed by William Appleton Potter and commissioned by Thomas Allen and built in 1876. The distinctive Gothic architecture features ornate polychromatic masonry. In 1926, the top two floors were added.

As steward of the state-owned building, the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance was also greatly involved in the process.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413 496-6233.


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