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Scituate looks at moving historic mossing shed

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  November 20, 2013 07:17 PM

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Scituate Historical Society

(Above) A photo of mossing happening on Scituate beaches. (Right) The restored shed has little use despite it's historic value, Historical Society members said.

The inconspicuous wooden shed sitting at Scituate’s Marina Park may not look like much to the untrained eye, but to Scituate Historical Society member David Ball, the building is a glimpse into the past.

The structure is actually one of many Irish Moss storage sheds that once existed along the Scituate waterfront, and is nearly a century old.

With so much history in such a hidden place, local history advocates are hoping to move the building.

“The moss shed is not getting any use by the public. It’s not something the public is taking advantage of,” Ball said.

The shed dates back to the early days of Scituate’s history, when mossing or raking up and drying a type of seaweed called Irish Moss was a large business for the town.

The seaweed would sit and dry in nearby sheds, eventually sold as an emulsifier for everything from chocolate and toothpaste, to mayonnaise and cosmetics.

The shed is the only one left in town, Ball said, and probably the only one in the country. Though the building was restored with over $20,000 in Community Preservation Fund money in 2007, the building currently has no use.

“We don’t want to see it just sitting there,” Ball told selectmen at a mid-November meeting.

Long forgotten are the notable days the building played in Scituate’s history. Unseen are the carved-in names of the mossers who used to use the shed. The only time people go inside is for the occasional storage of recreation equipment, Ball said.

Hopes are subsequently to pick up the shed and move it elsewhere, opening it up as part of a larger exhibit on Scituate’s mossing history at the Irish Maritime Mossing Museum, located on the Driftway.

Hopes are to lift the building on to a flatbed truck and move it to the new site.

“I talked to the contractor who did restoration effort on it,” Ball said. “Initial plans were to move it, so [we] don’t anticipate any structural problems.”

Yet the project has a ways to go. A proposal for funding is currently before the Community Preservation Committee, applications for which were due Nov. 1.

Town officials also had too many questions to vote whether or not to support the proposal in a mid-November meeting.

Selectman Rick Murray wanted comment from the historical commission on the plans. Confusion was also high over whether the town could donate the shed for the project or if it had to be put out to bid.

“It is publically owned land [with] a publicly owned building,” said Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi. “It’s probably not an issue to donate to the Historical Society, but it’s something that needs to be checked.”

Despite questions and a tabling of the vote, support for the project was high.

“People will then appreciate what a mossing shed is when they go through he exhibit,” said Selectman John Danehey of the proposal. “It’s perfect for it. The possibility of further damage from storms, it makes perfect sense.”

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