Historical and Cultural Resources
The history of Charlemont dates from mid-eighteenth century, when Captain Moses Rice came with his older sons to settle down in the area. The community inherited a rich collection of houses and structures, of which 126 have been identified as historical and culturally significant.
Cemeteries, both public and family burial grounds, are important resources rich in art, historic monuments, genealogical information and town history. Cemeteries and burial grounds should therefore be identified and protected. The Bissell Bridge is the only remaining covered bridge in town and can be found on Route 8A where it crosses Mill Brook.
The Charlemont fairgrounds have been the site of many cultural events in Charlemont since the 1850s. The fairgrounds are located to the north of the village center, along Route 8A. The center and the surrounding hills can be seen from portions of the fairgrounds, making the fairgrounds an important tourist destination within walking distance of the village center. For many years the fairgrounds were the site of the annual Deerfield Valley Agricultural Society fairs. In 1952 the Lions Club initiated the first Yankee Doodle Days, a three-day celebration that included a parade.
GOAL: To protect, preserve, and provide for the future management of historically and culturally significant landmarks of Charlemont
Objective 1: Encourage the restoration and reuse of historic buildings.
1.1 Assess the status of buildings and structures on the national historic conservation inventory in the town.
The town inherited a fairly large amount of important cultural and historical structures and sites. In order to preserve these resources, it is recommended that structures with a historical value be identified and incorporated into the town's national historic conservation inventory. Restoration of those buildings is strongly urged. Structures that are designated "National Register" buildings in the village historic district are entitled to a 20% Investment Tax Credit through the Federal Preservation Tax Act Certification Program if they are rehabilitated.
1.2 Promote the further development of the historic museum in the Town Hall and explore the potential public use of the private museum in Avery's store.
1.3 Identify and preserve sites of historical and archaeological importance i.e. Native American, French and Indian era forts, Underground Railroad.
Objective 2: Promote future development consistent with the existing architectural style and historic character of the town.
2.1 Develop a Site Plan Review process for the town to ensure that future development remains compatible with the village's character, in addition to a special permit requirement for any development in the village historic district.
The entire Charlemont center has been designated as a National Historic District and, while this does not prevent additional development, the historical character of the town should be considered in any proposed changes. In order to promote development consistent with the existing architectural style and historic character of the town, a Site Plan Review process should be developed, in addition to a special permit requirement for any development in the village historic district. The Planning Board is generally responsible for overseeing the Site Plan Review, although it is useful for other public agencies such as the Charlemont Historical Commission or the Conservation Commission to have input into the process through notification of hearings.
2.2 Consider minimal design standards within the present special permit requirements that will promote architectural compatibility with historic vocabulary.
The subject for Site Plan Review can be larger developments such as residential subdivisions or commercial developments. The review process allows the Planning Board to take into consideration a range of factors that could affect the character of the town beyond health and safety problems, such as noise, traffic congestion and recommendations from the design review board. Once a development plan is submitted to the Planning Board, the Board may request changes to conform to community guidelines.
Objective 3: Create and promote community events and cultural activities.
3.1 The fairgrounds and the grandstand have an important and historic significance for Charlemont. Work should be begun with the Friends of the Charlemont Fairgrounds Committee to restore the grandstand and develop the fairgrounds as a public space, and to promote its use for public events, such as farmers' markets, concerts, and communal festivities.
3.2 Form a "Friends of the Arts" committee to explore expanded cultural and artistic opportunities for the community.