By Beth David
Fairhaven Historical Commission Chairperson David Despres is shaking his head, saying he was “blindsided” by the “shingle deniers,” who opposed replacing the siding at the Academy Building with cedar shingles.
Mr. Despres said that there is photographic evidence that the Academy had shingles for about 100 years. Either way, he said, clapboard and shingles are both “historically appropriate” for the building.
The clapboards keeps getting wet, inexplicably, said Mr. Despres, and the Commission has had to repaint every few years. But the paint just refuses to stick, he said.
In 2010, it cost around $10,000 just to paint the front. The job included protective covers for the windows, so it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cost for the painting.
He said prevailing wage laws mean it will cost about $78,000 to paint the whole building vs. $45,000 for the shingles.
But the shingles were rejected by town meeting.
“We were blindsided,” said Mr. Despres, explaining why they did not explain all that at Town Meeting.
The article called for Community Preservation funds to be used on the historic structure, a former schoolhouse built in 1798 that is now home to the town’s visitors center.
Several town meeting members spoke against the article, with the main argument being that there was no evidence that the building ever had shingles.
Mr. Despres provided several photos, including one from around 1890 and one from the 1980s, showing that it did, indeed have shingles.
The HC wanted to replace the siding about a third of the way up, where the paint just keeps peeling.
Natural cedar shingles will last 30 to 40 years with very little maintenance, whereas clapboard will continue to require painting every few years.
He said they have tried everything to stop the moisture so the paint will stick: they put a concrete slab in the basement, insulated the building, installed gutters, and use a dehumidifier.
“Nothing worked to stop the moisture,” said Mr. Despres.
The HC will resubmit the proposal at the next town meeting, this time with the two quotes handy.
Mr. Despres said he just wanted to get the other side of the story out to the public.