By ROD LEE
These are heady days for Jane Keegan and members of the Uxbridge Historic District Commission (UHDC). If a warrant article Ms. Keegan and her cohorts have drafted is approved at Town Meeting in May, the town’s historic district will undergo an expansion to include “additional significant properties” along North Main, Mendon and Capron streets.
A stately presence on North Main St. in Uxbridge, Buma Funeral Home is one of ninety-four properties that would be included in an expanded historic district in the town of Uxbridge.
The original historic-district bylaw was adopted in 2004 and updated in 2014. It initially encompassed the downtown core of South and North Main streets, adjacent Court St. facing the Town Common and a small portion of Mendon and Douglas streets heading east and west.
The enlarged historic district would include a total of ninety-four properties. Among these are such prominent buildings as St.’s General Store (also known locally as St.’s Deli), Andrews Survey & Engineering, the Polish American Social & Civic Hall and Buma Funeral Home.
Inclusion of the McCloskey Building “will be voted on separately within the article, because it is going to be developed in some way,” Ms. Keegan said.
Ms. Keegan is optimistic about passage of the revised version of the historic district bylaw. The Uxbridge Historical Society has accepted wording of the article by unanimous vote, the Massachusetts Historical Commission was scheduled to render its judgment for or against at a meeting on March 8 and the UHDC will seek an endorsement of the Uxbridge Board of Selectmen on March 13th—all in preparation for a hoped-for two-thirds vote embracing the article by residents on May 9th.
A public hearing is also scheduled for April 11th.
“This is such a logical extension of what we had in 2004,” Ms. Keegan said. “And coming up on our 300th anniversary we have a lot of precious history we want to maintain.”
Jane Keegan is eminently qualified to chair the UHDC and to be the lead “squeaky voice,” as she puts it, in championing the article’s passage.
She is a member of the Uxbridge Historical Society, retired as town moderator and a member of the Uxbridge School Committee, a past regent of the Deborah Wheelock Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and owner of the Simeon Wheelock House (1786).
Peter Pendergast is vice chair. Travis Do Rosario is clerk.
The UHDC’s enthusiasm for the proposed change is shared by homeowners whose properties are located in what would be the redefined historic district.
Peter Frabotta III is one of these homeowners. Mr. Frabotta’s home, “Barbaras Blue, circa 1908,” which he describes as “a center-entry formal Colonial,” is situated at 46 Capron St. The handsome home was built by E.J. “Johnny” Brady in 1908 and purchased by Mr. Frabotta’s family in 1968.
Mr. Frabotta has meticulously kept the home in its original condition with restoration work, and filled the residence with antiques. “It is period-decorated,” he said on March 1st.
“Barbara’s Blue circa 1908” will be showcased during a spring house tour being offered from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 30th.
Although a previous attempt at expanding the historic district failed, Ms. Keegan believes this one will succeed. “Two people on the UHDC then who voted against it,” which resulted in its defeat at Town Meeting, are no longer involved with the Commission. Also, “we have shrunk the footprint,” she said; and because “there are so many exclusions,” she doesn’t anticipate widespread objections to its passage.
“If people want to build a chicken coup on their front lawn, they can, as long as it conforms to local zoning laws.”
Ms. Keegan points out that the UHDC aims to achieve three major purposes in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40c and the local bylaw: “to preserve and protect the distinguishing features of buildings and places significant to Uxbridge history; to maintain and improve the settings of those buildings and places; and to encourage new designs that are compatible with existing buildings in the district.”
Peter Frabotta III’s home at 46 Capron St. dates to 1908; the beautifully restored center-entry formal Colonial would be added to the town of Uxbridge’s historic district if an article prepared for consideration at Town Meeting this spring is approved.
Ms. Keegan is expected to tell Uxbridge selectmen that, “collectively, the public looks to the BOS as the town’s primary visionary leaders. While the town manager deals with overseeing day-to-day operational objectives within departments, most importantly, this board sets the ‘tone’ for policy implementation. The BOS chooses the overall ‘atmosphere’ Uxbridge projects to those who want to build homes and businesses here.” Viewed in “modern marketing parlance, in this ‘image-driven’ society, you are responsible for creating the image that drives sales.”
Ms. Keegan adds “keeping in mind that the town will celebrate its 300th anniversary as independent of Mother Mendon in 2027, Preserve the Past; Enhance the Future should not be just a simple, unofficial UHDC motto but rather a town mantra! The local Historical Commission agreed to co-sponsor our expansion article. The consensus was that expanding the historic district should not be viewed in a small, backward-looking context but as a town-wide effort to acknowledge our important past and speak to what is important to our future.”