I recently attended the reopening of a historic building in downtown Ipswich, Massachusetts, a screamingly historical town that was settled by English colonists in 1633/4 on the site of a 14,000-year-old Native American village.
The building – which housed a landmark business for the downtown – had suffered a terrible fire. It had stood empty and boarded up for almost two years while townspeople and government entities argued over what could or should be done. Everyone had an opinion, and the building’s central location made it the subject of endless conversation and consternation. It was a real eyesore in a downtown that was trying its best to "come back."
Finally, a local realtor bought the building to house his new offices, and hired a local architect who specializes in restoring old buildings to design the transformation. A local bank financed the project.
The results? Simply spectacular! From the outside, the building looks as if it’s always been there. Inside, great care was taken to preserve what could be preserved and do all other work to reflect the building’s original character and charm. At the same time, the interiors are bright, comfortable, and workable for business people. It is a masterpiece of preservation design.
The president of the local bank and members of his staff were present at the opening to join the celebration, and I said to him, “This must be very rewarding for you. This was money well spent.”
“You have no idea how much this kind of project means to us,” he said. And he meant it. This man, and his bank, are closely connected to, and publicly aligned with, local history. Watching him marvel at the results of his financing, I could see that he was, truly, moved. And he should be!
You’d better believe that “everyone” in Ipswich, Massachusetts, knows exactly who financed this project, who bought the building, and who did the redesign. The potential loss of the building to fire really devastated the community. Now, it’s “back” and better than ever.
The bank, the realtor, and the architect
are all local heroes.*
Do you think they will attract customers, cement existing customer loyalty, and boost their stature in the community? You better believe it!
And this is just one way for local businesses to connect with local history and become local heroes.
Is there a preservation project in your community you could support? Contact your historical society, historic commission, or preservation group to find out.
People who live in historical communities care deeply about their town history. Saving irreplaceable architectural treasures preserves history, town character, and quality of life.
Getting involved in one of these projects will make you a hero today, and you will also leave behind a legacy for tomorrow.
What’s not to like?
*Realtor/owner: Windhill Realty
*Architect: Mat Cummings, Cummings Architects
2010 © Bonnie Hurd Smith
History Smiths works with service-oriented businesses to use history — their own and their community's — to achieve customer loyalty, referrals, and high status. Subscribe (above, right) to our free Ezine, Connections, where we share ideas and examples of businesses embracing history to achieve business goals.