By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – Thanks to the nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity Metro West/Greater Worcester (HFH MWGW), future generations of Northborough residents will get a very personal glimpse into what life was like in the town in the year 2018.
The organization, along with student volunteers from Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School (AVRTHS), have been working on renovating two homes at 33 and 39 Main St.
When officials from Habitat and the town met recently for a project update, the idea for a time capsule came about.
“We thought, wouldn’t it be cool to do a time capsule and everybody was kind of excited about that idea,” Deborah Huegel, director of development for HFH MWGW.
Paul Rebello, Habitat site supervisor for the Northborough project added, “The time capsule is quite unique and it’s great to have the history of something that is 200 years old and documents that we removed from the house and be able to preserve that for someone from the future to find. We are saving the history of the house and adding some contemporary items including best wishes to the families [who will live there].”
Representatives from the organization, as well as town officials and AVRTHS students, gathered Feb 14 to bury the time capsule at the work site.
The smaller home should be completed during the summer of 2018 and the larger (the former Gale General Store) in early 2019.
“All the families we work with are low-income: we offer the families a hand up—not a hand out,” said Huegel.
Four families have been identified to occupy these homes, she noted. All have been involved in the building process and have invested “sweat equity” into their future homes.
The larger building, the former Gale General Store, named for its owner, Cyrus Gale, – appears on the oldest comprehensive map of Northborough, dated 1830. The building dates further back because some of the materials used can be traced to 1812. Cyrus Gale was a civic leader and started the town’s first library. He was also the town’s wealthiest resident and his store served as the social center of the community.
“Scores of receipts were found in the Gale Store, dating back as far as 1811, including purchases from wholesalers and sales to customers… salt, flour, rum, gin, brandy, books, clapboards, shoe nails, Nicaragua shell, Buffalo robes, pans, kettles, etc.,” according to the Northborough Historical Society. Artifacts were discovered during renovations and turned over to the Historical Society.
Students from AVRTHS have done a great deal of the work on the smaller home and the students are learning valuable hands-on lessons, while saving the project thousands of dollars in expenses.
“It’s a great combination of getting these homes built for Habitat and having these students have the experience of what it’s like to do a job so when they graduate they have experience under their belt so its working really well in terms of partnering with the schools,” Rebello said.
“Habitat is still fundraising to pay the costs of renovating the two historic homes,” Huegel noted.
Donations, volunteering, a build day or in-kind gifts are always welcome. Contact Huegel at [email protected] if interested.