Northborough’s White Cliffs Committee to reconvene soon

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Northborough’s White Cliffs Committee to reconvene soon
Snow covers the grounds of the White Cliffs mansion in Northborough. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

NORTHBOROUGH – Northborough is getting ready to reconvene its White Cliffs Committee.

That’s according to Town Administrator John Coderre, who discussed the topic during a recent Board of Selectmen meeting on Jan. 24.

He said the committee would be helping the town “decide on” a potential consultant to help the town potentially develop a request for proposals from private sector partners interested in the historic White Cliffs property. 

Town Meeting vote saved historic home from demolition

Selectman Leslie Rutan prompted the conversation, asking for an update on White Cliffs during the meeting. 

“I don’t want there to be misinformation floating around out there about what’s happening and what’s going on in the building and [if] it’s secure,” Rutan said. 

White Cliffs was built in 1886 as a summer home for Daniel Wesson and his wife, Cynthia, who owned the home until 1906. The structure had several owners over the ensuing years until it was purchased by the LaCava family in 1985. 

In the past, White Cliffs had been a popular location for weddings and events like the Northborough Winter Ball. 

In 2014, though, the LaCavas announced that they wanted to sell the property. They then applied for a demolition permit after spending 10 months searching for a buyer.

The town purchased White Cliffs in 2016 after Town Meeting approved spending $2.4 million in Community Preservation Act funds. That saved the building from demolition.

Town conducts restoration work at White Cliffs

Northborough’s White Cliffs Committee to reconvene soon
Statues line the driveway to the White Cliffs mansion in Northborough. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

Crews have since done restoration work at White Cliffs, focusing on areas damaged by fire. They’ve additionally made repairs to the home’s roof, skylight, and parts of its chimneys. Crews have also restored the east dormer, which is a roof structure. 

DBVW Architects, which had been contracted as a consultant for these discussions, presented to the White Cliffs Committee on status of the property back in 2020.

One of the options explored was called “preservation lite,” which would remove either some or all of the building’s later additions; restore the exterior as needed; install new mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems; and make code upgrades. 

Coderre said on Jan. 24 that the town has been doing work behind the scenes, including “buttoning up” the envelope and sealing the building to keep water out. 

“We knew when we bought the building it was going to be a long haul,” Coderre said. “If it was an easy solution, the previous owner would have found somebody who wanted to buy it and not tear it down.” 

White Cliffs Committee member Norm Corbin, Coderre said, has been working to gather information on potential consultants to market the property. 

Coderre has had conversations with consultants over the past several weeks. 

In the meantime, the town’s facility manager walks the building on a weekly basis. Police drive through on every shift.

“We’re keeping tabs on the building,” Coderre said. 

In an email to the Community Advocate last week, Coderre said the next step in this process will be to schedule a meeting with the White Cliffs Committee to discuss how best to proceed. He said he anticipated such a meeting would be scheduled within the next couple of weeks.

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