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2005-09-28
New Bedford, Ma. Home Depot Goes After Another Historic Site

If its got historic value, Home Depot wants it. That seems to be the fashion these days. Big box store going after historically valuable properties. In New Bedford, Massachusetts, Home Depot is going after the Fairhaven Mill #4, property that has been placed on the 'Ten Most Endangered Properties List for 2005' by Preservation Massachusetts. According to the group WHALE (Waterfront Historic Area League), the Fairhaven Mill #4 is slated for demolition in 2006 to accommodate parking spaces for a proposed new Home Depot Gateway Center. "WHALE built a strong case for Fairhaven Mills," said Jim Igoe, President of Preservation Massachusetts, Inc, "to be listed this year on our Ten Most Endangered List. Our selection committee which consisted of preservation professionals from throughout the Commonwealth agreed that this historically significant property was in imminent danger due to the current demolition plans and was worthy of saving." Igoe noted that other preservation alternatives could save the mill while still allowing the development of the Home Depot and other commercial spaces. WHALE says that the Mill is a good representative example of a mill building of New Bedford's textile era and because of its association with master photographer Lewis Hine, whose striking photographs of child workers in the early twentieth century figured largely in the passage of America's first child labor laws." WHALE representatives prepared an alternative site plan that included retaining and reusing the mill, and involved the Home Depot. WHALE says the Home Depot can still happen and the building still retain "the architecturally and historically significant parts of the site that are capable of restoration and reuse." The Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) added their voice of support for keeping the Mill, noting "Mill #4 meets the criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic Places for its associations with the textile history of New Bedford." She also observed that the proposed Home Depot Gateway Center project "will have an 'adverse effect' on the Mill #4 through the demolition of this historic property." MHC asked Home Depot to consider alternatives to demolition such as re-using Mill number 4 for the proposed retail/restaurant space."

What you can do: When Home Depot began looking at historic property in Manhattan, New York City officials required them to leave the facade alone, so Home Depot moved in, without any of its orange signs, or any other disturbance. In New Bedford, WHALE is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and restoring historic structures and sites throughout Greater New Bedford. WHALE is supported, in part, by its members and grants. They can be reached at 508-997-1776. For similar stories about Home Depot and historic properties, search by "Home Depot" and most recently, "Nashville." An earlier story on this subject can be found by searching under "New Bedford."










 
 
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