Wicked Local Bourne
By Paul Gately
A document search got underway this week to place the old Kempton Coady School in Bourne Village on the U.S. Registry of Historic Places.
The red-brick structure at Cotuit and Trowbridge Roads dates back to 1906. It has been duly designated to be placed on the register, but paperwork from the national registry to the town has been either misfiled or misplaced.
Former Selectman Donald Ellis, who also formerly chaired the Bourne Historical Commission, said a search at Town Clerk Barry Johnson’s office failed to uncover the federal notification.
On August 4, Ellis said the next step is to search for the paperwork in the Jonathan Bourne Historic Center archives. The ultimate goal is to secure the notification and provide documentation to support a possible Community Preservation Act funding request later this year.
Ellis said the CPA money would pay for an appropriate U.S. Registry plaque for the old school, evolving now into an expanded Coady School Residences with 55-and-over units.
“They’ve done an outstanding job with a lovely old building and turned it around,” Ellis said. “I’m not an attorney, but it’s my opinion that CPA funds could be used for a plaque.”
George “Jay” Jenkins, former president of the Bourne Society for Historic Preservation, says the new Coady apartments are well situated.
“A resident can walk to the medical center pharmacy, the post office, the bus stop up the street and the canal down the street,” he said. “And the library. I think this is a big win for Bourne Village.”
The historical group was in the vanguard of early efforts to keep Coady from being razed after the Waldorf School departed the building for Cotuit. The initial argument was for the town to retain the building, fix it up, and house some town departments in it.
The society had been pivotal in its 1979 effort to literally stop the planned municipal demolition of the Briggs-McDermott House at Sandwich Road, now refurbished and itself on the National Register. Members were determined to help repeat some preservation history.
Selectmen ultimately decided not to have the building demolished and eventually sold it for $400,000 to the Stratford Capital Group of Peabody. The result includes a makeover of the old school in line with its architectural style, an addition with the appropriate linear look beyond Coady Field, and the creation of 58 apartments.
“It’s something you can use,” Jenkins said. “That’s important. It’s something first class. They took something that was a routine school and turned it into something beautiful.”
Ellis said if the letter of historic register designation can be found, a CPA funding request might be advanced in time for inclusion on the October Special Town Meeting warrant.
Contractors, meanwhile, hustled late last week inside and outside of Coady. A general superintendent said the goal remains to open the complex to tenants by late August.
Ellis had the last word for now.
“We need to find that letter of approval,” he said. “That’s first. Everyone has their own filing system, and that has to be figured out.”