White Cliffs designated as one of the most endangered historic resources

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White Cliffs designated as one of the most endangered historic resources
Potential bidders got a look inside White Cliffs earlier this month. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

NORTHBOROUGH – As Northborough seeks proposals for the redevelopment and reuse of White Cliffs, the mansion has been placed on the list of Massachusetts’ most endangered historic resources. 

The list is compiled and published by Preservation Massachusetts, which is a nonprofit advocacy and education organization that is dedicated to preserving Massachusetts’ historical and cultural heritage, according to its website

“White Cliffs is a Northborough landmark in every sense of the word,” said President of Preservation Massachusetts Erin Kelly. 

Constructed in 1886, the mansion was a summer home for Smith & Wesson’s Daniel Wesson. Kelly called it a “stunning example” of Queen Anne/Shingle Style architecture, noting its connection to Northborough residents as an event venue and restaurant. 

White Cliffs joins three other locations named in 2022, including the Weston Railroad Station, Isolation Hospital in Springfield and Orange Armory. 

Preservation Massachusetts said in a release that over 220 resources have been designated as endangered since the inception of the list, and 91 of those 220 have been saved and 31 have been lost. 

This announcement comes as the town is in the midst of a request for proposals (RFP) process, seeking potential private sector partners to rehabilitate the mansion and get it back into use after the town purchased it in 2016. 

Northborough released the RFP last month and is accepting proposals until Dec. 8. 

Earlier this month, town officials led potential bidders on a tour through the mansion.  

“The walkthrough was a great opportunity to showcase White Cliffs to the broader development and user community, and we had a really great response,” said Kirk and Company’s Brett Pelletier. 

He continued, “The property really is a gem, and the feedback we got was encouraging. The RFP has been out for a short time, and we’ve had a good amount of interest, and we’re confident that potential bidders see the beauty and the potential in the property.”

Planning Director Laurie Connors noted the town’s “strong commitment” to White Cliff by allocating funds to purchase and maintain the mansion.

“Seven years after, the town’s commitment to the preservation of our most cherished historic and architectural asset has not waned, but we now recognize that we are a bit over our heads,” Connors said. “We need help restoring this precious building and returning it to active use.”

She said the designation will raise awareness about White Cliffs and enable Northborough to access technical guidance and support.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with Preservation Massachusetts to save this piece of Massachusetts’ history,” Connors said.

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