Nov. forum to set goals for saving historic properties

By Charis Anderson

NEW BEDFORD — The New Bedford Preservation Coalition will hold a forum in November to help set preservation goals for many of the city’s historical properties as part of an effort to target limited resources to where they’re most needed, according to a city official.

The event was organized in part to address concerns raised in the wake of the June fire that ultimately claimed the former Frates Funeral Home on County Street, according to Anne Louro, the city’s preservation planner.

The coalition is a group of public and nonprofit organizations that have historical preservation as part of their core mission.

Louro on Tuesday updated the City Council’s Committee on Appointments and Briefings on the event as part of a discussion around the possibility of creating an inventory of the city’s historic buildings, a motion filed by Ward 5 Councilor Jane Gonsalves.

“I’m worried about the status of these buildings, especially those that are empty,” said Gonsalves. “How do we prevent them from going up in smoke?”

About 50 properties will be listed during the forum and short-, medium- and long-term goals will be set for each structure, according to Louro.
However, the city is already working to track its historic properties on several fronts, said Louro.

There are 15 National Register districts in New Bedford, and an effort is under way to bring a 16th district — the area around St. Anthony of Padua on Acushnet Avenue — online within a year, said Louro.

The city recently received a grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission to inventory about 80 historic properties along Acushnet Avenue between Coggeshall Street and Nash Road, including St. Anthony’s, said Louro.

As part of that process, detailed information — who built each building, who lived in it, the structure’s significance to its broader neighborhood, etc. — will be gathered about each structure, according to Louro.

The city recently completed a detailed inventory of its cemeteries, said Louro, and also maintains a database of all vacant properties.

One of the goals of the November forum is to identify challenges or gaps the city may be facing and to learn about what other communities have done to overcome those challenges, said Louro.

Gonsalves said she would return to the matter after the November event.
September 01, 2010 12:00 AM

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