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Scituate Arts Association looks to public for help funding Ellis House repairs

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  November 21, 2011 05:03 PM

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The repainted part of the Ellis House lies in stark contrast to the front, which is still waiting on repairs.

The Scituate Arts Association is asking for community support to fund a variety of fixes to the historic Ellis House.

Located on Country Way in Scituate, the 1874 building is home to several artist studios that are rented out by the Arts Association to its members.

Although numerous fixes have gone into the property in recent years, including re-roofing, redoing the chimney, repairing interior beams, fixing exterior walls, and repainting of three sides of the house, an Updated Preservation Plan, completed with Community Preservation money and grants from the National Trust and Preservation Massachusetts, shows more work needs to be done.

“First and foremost is the need to complete the process of tightening the building against the elements,” said Janet Cornacchio, President of SAA. “The simplest and most immediate task is to restore the front face of the house so that it can be painted and sealed against the elements.”

That process entails that the clapboards, worn from time, need to be replaced and any underlying damage repaired.

From there, the group plans on repainting the front half of the building. Currently only the back half of the building has been repainted in historic maroon and yellow colors, leaving the front a faded blue and grey.

As repairs go forward, money and funding continue to be the primary factors.

The Board itself has already started restorations with the funding they have available within their organization.

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The Caretaker's quarters are still largely unfinished. Funding will go to repairing the exterior walls and repainting.

According to Cornacchio, $2000 has gone towards repairing the Caretaker’s section of the house, which should be restored and primed before snow starts to fall this year.

The organization is also looking for support for other aspects of the project.

The group will be applying for $3000 in CPC funding in 2012 to complete the painting restoration of the front façade as well as replace the flat roofs of the front bays and dining room porch. The project is estimated to cost $6,000, however the organization will contribute $3,000.

Another need is the replacement of the oil burner for the Caretaker’s apartment. Cornacchio said that the SAA plans to finance this with a grant from the Mass Arts Council as well as a local fundraising campaign.

SAA will be submitting an application to the Mass Historical Commission’s 2012 funding to address weatherization, roof drainage and ventilation – a complex issue in the peaked Ellis house roof – yet matching funds will be required for that as well.

Although the group will need funding outside of grants, the organization doesn’t plan to ask the town for any funding out of the capital budget.

“There isn’t enough money in the budget to consider that,” Cornacchio said. “CPC is a legitimate request, because CPC does put money into historic concerns…the attitude of the selectmen and town administrator is CPC is the place to go for that. They don’t have discretionary funds for that.”

As a result, Cornacchio plans on getting the residents involved as party of the campaign. Already people have donated $1,000 to restoration and preservation expenses, and although funding from the public is never guaranteed, Cornacchio remains hopeful.

“I want to get the public involved. The more they give us towards restoration, the better,” she said. “We’re even working on point of sale donations at local merchants, to have people donate a dollar as they check out at local retailers. It’s an idea. We’re trying to find people interested [in participating].”

Yet the work to be done has yet to become overwhelming, Cornacchio said. If anything, it’s just nice to have a direction.

“I think its good to have a direction and know what needs to be done. I was more overwhelmed before I had it. Too many little discreet things you end up going all over the place,” she said. “This way we can see systems that need to be done and address them in totality. We’re putting them into groups. That I think will really help us.”

To donate, email checks to the Scituate Arts Association, PO Box 214, Scituate, MA 02066. Residents can also check the website or contact Cornacchio, at jcornacch@aol.com or at 781-545-7613.

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