Huntington Residents to vote on St. Thomas Church

One of the significant issues to be voted on by Huntington residents at Monday night’s town meeting will be whether to amend the bylaws to create a single property Local Historic District that would consist of the St. Thomas Roman Catholic Church. According to the study report, the purpose would be “to preserve the architectural integrity of St. Thomas Church, located at 2 East Main Street, which is currently closed, vacant, and on the market now for 19 months. St. Thomas Church is one of the first landmarks you see as you enter the town village and is threatened by deferred maintenance, vandalism, or being demolished.”
If the Article passes by a two-thirds majority, the new owners of the church would be restricted in altering the appearance or historical significance of the building. The architectural design, façade, window shapes, steeple, paint and roof colors for instance would be some features visible from the street view and therefore could not be altered, according to the study.
The report also mentions the wariness of the general public of extreme controls, but argues that typical private property is respected through zoning, and that the community must act to preserve its common treasures.
Helen Speckels, one of the members of the study committee, said the Local Historic District designation “would only affect exterior renovations.” She said new owners would have to go through a permitting process, which is normal, but which would go through the Historical Commission.
One of the concerns of the committee, that the church does not fall victim to vandalism, has already occurred. Last fall, vandalism did occur on the property when the hands were broken off the statue of St. Mary in front of the church. Speckels said the police retrieved the hands, and the Diocese has them. She said exterior lights have also been broken at the church.
“The reason we’re doing the single property historic district is that the building is up for sale,” Speckels said. She said the committee, which was commissioned by the Huntington Board of Selectmen last year, feels that St. Thomas is a Huntington landmark, very visible and identifiable with the town, and that it would take longer to do a larger historic district. As for whether they plan to proceed with the larger historic district, she said, “We’ll see how this goes.”
The selling price for the church, listed with Colebrook Realty Services in Springfield, is $199,900. Under the description, it states: A deed restriction regarding use runs with the land. The seller, which is the Roman Catholic Diocese, reserves the right to remove any item of religious or historic significance. It further states that the building was built in 1881, is 3,720 square feet, on approximately .351 acres, with five parking spaces in a business zone, and the building is handicapped accessible.

To Top