TOWN OF DUDLEY
Dudley Municipal Complex
71 West Main Street • Room 207
Dudley, MA 01571
Edward Bazinet, Chairman
Michael Branniff, Secretary
January 5, 2011
Ms. Brona Simon SHPO & Executive Officer
Massachusetts Historical Commission
220 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston Massachusetts 02125-3314
Dudley Historical Commission Supports Stevens Mills LLC’s Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Application.
Dear Ms. Simon:
The Stevens Linen Works occupies a prominent site at the juncture of West Main Street and the French or Maanexit River and is situated on an industrial footprint that dates back to the eighteenth century. A strategic and coveted water privilege located at the junction of the river and Powderhorn Brook has always been the focal point of industrial activity appropriate to the current technology of any era, up to the end of the twentieth century. From 1846 to the end of the next century the nationally unique Stevens Linen Works, its owners and agents, and the men and women it employed were symbiotically entwined with its host community to an unparalleled degree, for an unprecedented span of years. During the life of the Stevens operation it provided much of the elected leadership of the community over a long procession of generations that spanned its active and incredible industrial longevity. The ownership and managers of the Stevens Linen Works were consistently competent, highly competitive, hard driving and practical, nimble and intellectually agile, progressive, honest and fair. No small feat in any age, especially in the Darwinian world of the nineteenth and twentieth century American textile industry. The history of this period is replete with examples of the mutual respect and caring that grew between the Stevens operation and its host community. Happily, a consistent policy of enlightened self interest had progressed to an even higher level of good relations and comity.
Stevens Linen is a nationally recognized part of the country’s industrial heritage and a resource that local residents sincerely desire to preserve. The current owner of Stevens Mill, located at 8-10 Mill Street, is reapplying for State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits, which will subsidize the cost of rehabilitating the property and adapting it to new use. The plan as we understand is to create 164 units of housing in the existing structure and involves no demolition of historic parts and relatively little new construction. For a detailed appreciation of the superb physical construction and architectural features and history of the mill itself, its owners and operators I refer you to the recently approved National Register of Historic Places nomination that is on file.
Early in 2006 the Dudley Historical Commission invoked a six month demolition delay provision of our municipal by-laws to halt the destruction of this national treasure. We were within months of seeing the property demolished when the ownership changed hands. New ownership equated to a miraculous step back from the brink of a terrible tragedy. Such a reprieve serves to augment our desire for a secure future for this mill complex. The Dudley Historical Commission views it as imperative that this rescue be completed and the future of the mill secured. This desired result is in large part contingent on the success of this tax credit application. I therefore apprise you of the Dudley Historical Commission’s absolute and unequivocal support of this tax credit application and earnestly solicit your organizations support of it.
We have always supported this proposed redevelopment. We think a more likely project deserving of our support will not be found in our lifetimes. The successful conversion of this vacant, historically irreplaceable structure into income and tax producing properties would unleash a “perfect storm” of new and favorable economic opportunities for Dudley in particular and the adjacent communities of Southern Worcester County in general, validating in an unmistakable way, the wisdom and utility of the Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program to the numerous scoffers and doubters we encounter as we struggle to fit our icons of the past into the fabric of our future.
Thank you for your attention. Michael Branniff
Dudley Historical Commission
cc: Preservation Massachusetts
Old City Hall
45 School Street
Boston MA, 02108
Attn: Erin D. A. Kelly
National Trust for Historic Preservation Northeast Office
7 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 4th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02109
Attn: Rebecca Williams