By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Grafton – Under brilliant blue skies, town officials and residents gathered at the back of Grafton Town House located at 1 Grafton Common May 2 to celebrate the groundbreaking of the historic landmark’s Phase II Accessibility Project.
The project, which is a venture between the town and the building’s lead tenant, the nonprofit group Apple Tree Arts will bring the building into compliance with Massachusetts Architectural Access Board standards as well as meet current fire safety standards.
The renovations are anticipated to cost approximately $3.5 million, with funding coming from town reserves, Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds and monies raised by Apple Tree Arts.
Built in 1863, the Town House has been home to many businesses over the years as well as serving as Grafton’s Town Hall until 1985. Besides Apple Tree Arts, the Grafton Historical Society and several retail and professional offices are currently located there.
Officials at the May 2 event lauded the dedication and perseverance for those who had strived to obtain the funding for the renovation.
“It’s a beautiful day to celebrate the renovation of the Town House,” John Stephens, chair of the Community Preservation Committee, said. “This building is a monument to Grafton’s past.”
So many had played a part in the process, he noted, but none more important than the citizens of the town who had approved the usage of CPA funds.
“This project represents the best of what CPA funds can do,” he added.
Jim Gallagher, speaking on behalf of the Commission on Disability, was visibly moved as he addressed the crowd.
“This is a wonderful thing. It will now bring history to everyone, including the disabled,” he said. “Thank you very much to everyone who has done so much for all of us. Well done.”
Paul Scarlett, chair of Apple Tree’s Board of Trustees, noted that there was one other major supporter of the project who deserved thanks – the late Charlie Bolack.
Bolack, a well-known Grafton businessman and the founder of Grafton Suburban Credit Union who passed away in 2013, had been a strong supporter of the project, Scarlett said.
“His dream was to bring this building back to life,” he said, “and now his vision is coming true.”