The Franklin County Agricultural Society has been awarded a $57,250 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, to help pay for the restoration of the Roundhouse, the agricultural exhibit building that’s been a local landmark at the Franklin County Fairgrounds since 1899.
FCAS received notification of the award on July 23rd, 2010. This $57,250 grant funds approximately 26% of the final construction costs through the Community Facility program administered by USDA, Rural Development.
“Our Community Facility program has funds available in the form of grants, loans and loan guarantees. It’s meant to assist in the development of facilities used by the public in towns with fewer than 20,000 residents and can be an integral part of making projects like this restoration possible,” stated Michael Rendulic, Area Director for USDA, Rural Development.
In June of 2009, the Agricultural Society received a $48,000 matching grant award from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund to assist in the roof replacement of the Roundhouse. Initially, the project costs were estimated at $100,000. As the project began last fall, many serious structural problems were discovered and corrected by Thayer Street Associates and Margo Jones Architects who both worked on the Roundhouse Restoration Project from fall of 2009 through spring of 2010. The final project costs have come to exceed $200,000, more than double the original estimate.
FCAS president Frostine Bean noted, “Our organization felt it was extremely important to fund all aspects of the restoration of the Roundhouse. We’re proud to have made the commitment to the Roundhouse Restoration Project. The end results of the fine work of our contractors and architects have proven we made the right decision. We’re thrilled and grateful to receive this generous grant award from the USDA Rural Development Agency.”
Over the past year, the Agricultural Society remained committed to the Roundhouse project in spite of the tremendous expense increase, and to help meet expenses, the society took out a $100,000 in temporary financing from Greenfield Savings Bank. They also launched several fundraising projects that have netted almost $40,000 in community donations. They were helped along the way by individual and business contributions, membership pledges, and also received advice and support from Mayor Bill Martin, who hosted 2 fundraising events at Taylor’s Tavern for the Restoration Project, and also met with agricultural society members to inform and advise them regarding the possibility of USDA funding for the project.
Almost one year later, the seed of the Mayor’s advice has borne fruit with the announcement of the USDA grant award. Mayor Martin offered the following comments upon the announcement of the USDA award:
“There are rare moments when you can combine passion with determination and achieve the intended outcome. This Roundhouse restoration is such a moment and such a project. I have been in that building since I was too short to see the pumpkins, and now, to collaborate with so many interested people to restore this unique local landmark is very gratifying. Congrats to project coordinator Linda Slattery and her team and to the Franklin County Agricultural Society for preserving our past by protecting it for the future.”