By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Colonial Club is losing its long-time home, but that does not mean it is dissolving, said board member Beth Luey, who represented the club at a special meeting of the Fairhaven Historical Commission on Friday, 5/26.
In a follow-up email, Ms. Luey said that the Colonial Club existed before it had the use of the house at 6 Cherry Street and it will continue after they lose it.
“And we will continue to pursue the same two goals,” said Ms. Luey. “To advance understanding of Fairhaven history and to promote friendship among the members.”
The club is selling off some of its collection of artwork and other historical items at an auction on Saturday, 6/10 (see listing on page 9).
Ms. Luey said that many historical items, including early maps, documents, Coggeshall family records and photographs, have been donated to the Fairhaven Archives in the Millicent Library.
She said several groups, including the Whaling Museum and town curator, were invited to purchase items in advance of the auction at below market prices.
“As a result, paintings, some documents and some pieces of furniture have found new homes,” said Ms. Luey in a statement.
David Despres, the chairperson of the Fairhaven Historical Commission, said they held the emergency meeting at the request of the Selectboard and invited Town Administrator Mark Rees and Town Counsel Thomas Crotty, who both attended, along with Selectboard member Daniel Freitas.
Mr. Despres said that the point of the meeting was to see if the town had any standing in the matter.
He said the reality is that the Colonial Club is a private organization and is not a non-profit.
“We really don’t have any right as a town board,” said Mr. Despres. “The scope of the meeting was to see if the town has any legal claim, and we don’t.”
He said many people are asking lots of questions, such as why the club is selling the items instead of storing them, or asking how they could lose the building in the first place. But those questions are “not appropriate” for his board to ask, he said.
“The reasons why they did it, it’s totally their call,” said Mr. Despres. “All that they own was either purchased by them or donated to them for their own use.”
He said the town never donated anything to the club, none of the items on sale belong to the town, they do not accept donations as a non-proift and do not present themselves as a non-profit.
“This is just a private club, they have a right to do what they want,” said Mr. Despres. “We didn’t question their reasoning.”
The club was established in 1912. In 1916, the building was left in a trust by Martha Coggeshall for use by the club. The building itself was never the property of the club, only the contents were. Bank of America administered the trust and it ran out of money. The bank notified the club that they would have to vacate the premises because BoA was selling the building.
“Our only interest [in holding the meeting] was to see if the town has any claim,” said Mr. Despres. “The reasons they did it are entirely their own.”
The Colonial Club’s collection includes original paintings by Fairhaven’s famous names, such as Charles Gifford, Lemuel Eldred, and William Bradford. It also includes whales teeth scrimshaw, whaleship journals, whalebone items, gold coins, jewelry, furniture, 19 century toys. For online catalog visit www.marionantiqueauctions.com
Click here to download the entire 6/8/17 issue: 06-08-17 Graduation