WESTFIELD – The Wyben One-Room Schoolhouse may remain in place after a local TV producer expressed interest in filming a show there.
Westfield Historical Commission member Michael Ingraham said during the Aug. 16 Historical Commission meeting that a TV producer, John Martine from Florence, expressed interest in restoring Westfield’s last remaining one-room schoolhouse so that he may film a one-season, 14-episode TV show there.
Commission member Carly Bannish said Martine approached the commission with “a lot of enthusiasm and energy” to get the schoolhouse restored. She said that he had also been looking at one-room schoolhouses across New England.
“He has been looking at schoolhouses all over New England trying to find one, and he is very excited about ours,” said Bannish, “When he had heard that we are in the process of trying to find funding, he thought that he could assist us with that.”
Commission Chair Cindy Gaylord said she is confident that Martine is going to choose Westfield’s schoolhouse, but it has not yet been finalized. The show itself takes place in the schoolhouse, but has modern elements as well, Gaylord said of what she knows about the planned plot so far.
She said that Martine is looking to film a pilot episode first. A pilot episode is common practice in TV production in which a first episode will be filmed as a pitch to different networks or streaming services in the hopes that they will pick up the show for the full season.
Martine himself did not immediately return a request for comment.
Gaylord said Martine may look for local actors and actresses as well.
The Historical Commission had previously been considering moving the schoolhouse to a location downtown in part due to its inaccessibility to school buses at its current location. Gaylord said that if this project ends up happening, the schoolhouse could remain where it is. She noted that the accessibility issue will still need to be addressed.
She said when some Wyben residents saw the proposal to move the schoolhouse, they voiced their opposition. She also said that moving the building would be a daunting task anyway.
“We are talking with the city again. [Community Development Director] Peter Miller is looking into the legal end of this to see what we can do,” said Gaylord.