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The Springside Natural Park Center

A Proposal for Redevelopment & Reuse of the Historic Springside House as an Educational Visitors Center Summary
The specialized historic usage and unique location of the building within Pittsfield's largest park land, and its conjoined Historic Registry status with Springside Park, suggest a use for the facility that is related to and co patible with the o!erall character, co unity !ision, and forthco ing "aster Plan for the park# $y synthesizing reco endations fro years of planning assess ents and pre!ious public input into a a odel for new partnership and collaborations in the for of a ulti%use educational !isitors center, this proposed reuse offers a conceptual plan that offers a feasible, fundable, and sustainable purpose for this i portant building that is co patible with the current usage and progra ing in adjacent areas of the park while substantially enhancing the co unity#

A Natural Park Center

The e&isting structural attributes of the building as it has been de!eloped, and its historic usage suggest the feasibility of the house as a ultifaceted hub, that can acco odate se!eral integrated agencies and uses tied to its unique site location within the city's largest park# ' properly reno!ated Springside House could acco odate all of the following features(usages, in an collaborati!e ulti%use configuration that would a plify the effecti!eness of its co ponents, as an integrated Pittsfield parks !isitor and natural educational center# 'n ideal location for local )isitors *enter auspices currently located at the +nter odal Transportation *enter to be based at a destination park *lassroo and eeting spaces for local educational and co unity progra s, especially as a co ple ent to outdoor en!iron ental learning and(or cultural acti!ities conducted in the park ,ffice and workspace areas pro!iding a presence for local ecological educational organizations including those already conducting e&tensi!e outdoor learning progra s at Springside, whose presence would enhance !isitor e&perience and co unity benefit, as a centralized resource hub of en!iron ental ST-" .Science, Technology, -ngineering / "ath0 education a!ailable to students of all le!els# Roo and wall space featuring artifacts / e orabilia fro Pittsfield history, particularly the substantial collection of outdoor recreation and parks history preser!ed fro the house's own legacy# Social gathering space co ple entary to outdoor recreational, cultural and co unity e!ents

History & Former Usage

Springside House was built as a pri!ate residence, 1-l hurst,2 between 3456 and 3467 by 'braha $urbank# +t was sold to the 8a!ol fa ily, who owned it fro 349: to 3;7<, reno!ating and adding to the house and constructing the adjacent barn# =ro 3;7< to 3;>> it ser!ed as a su er residence for the Ste!ens fa ily# +n 3;37, ?elton $# "iller donated 37 acres of land in the !icinity of -l hurst for use as a public park, which then beca e 'bbott Park# $y 3;3;, with the donation of additional land and the sale of so e e&isting lots, the park had increased in size to 35#5 acres and was rena ed Springside Park# +n 3;>4, ?elton "illers sons 8onald $# and @awrence ?# purchased the 95 acre Ste!ens estate and donated the house and land for the enlarge ent of Springside Park# The Park *o ission authorized caretaker Harry A# Batson to reno!ate what was now known as Springside House for use by clubs and co unity organizations and in 3;<3 it was opened for public use# =our of the first floor roo s were reno!ated for eetings, parties and other adult acti!ities on a seasonal basis# $etween 3;<3 and 3;55 gifts of additional acreage added to the size of the Park# 's the park grew, so did the ad inistrati!e needs# +n 3;5<, Springside House was re odeled again and beca e the office and headquarters of the Pittsfield 8ept# of Parks and Recreation# Bhile hosting these operations o!er the ne&t half century, other organizations also utilized or rented space in the building at different ti es in conjunction with park ser!ices, including Pittsfield *i!il 8efense as well as the Binter *arni!al *o ittee and nu erous athletic leagues and recreational groups fro around the city# The Hebert 'rboretu and $erkshire *onser!ation 8istrict also had recent office spaces, and eetings of bodies such as the Parks *o ission and *onser!ation *o ission were held there# +n :779, the 8epart ent of *o unity Ser!ices(Parks and Recreation was officially re o!ed fro the city code# +n Auly of that year Aa es "cCrath, the 8irector of *o unity Ser!ices, was relocated to *ity Hall and gi!en his current title of Park, ,pen Space, and Datural Resource Progra "anager# Park aintenance ad inistration, now $uildings and Crounds "aintenance, was o!ed to the $uilding "aintenance 8epart ent# Park recreation was o!ed to the *o unity 8e!elop ent 8epart ent# The principal Springside building has been generally unused since Auly, :779, and is currently pri arily for storage# The eastern half of the building has an apart ent .: floors0 that housed ' eri*orps )+ST' )olunteers fro :77; to :73:# "ost recently, the ain portion of the house was re%opened to the public in Su er :73> for se!eral showings of a historical e&hibit consisting of two open roo s displaying a s all sa pling of the e&tensi!e collections of photos, docu ents, artifacts and e orabilia fro a century of Pittsfield parks history currently stored at the house#

Relationship to the Park

+n addition to being an acti!e !enue for athletic, recreational and social e!ents, Springside Park has also beco e a hub of ecological education and outdoor learning acti!ity, particularly in the acreage i ediately surrounding the Springside House# Since at least the ti e of the Ste!ens estate, the area near the house has boasted celebrated gardens of different kinds# ' 3;59 park plan by the city called for the establish ent of an arboretu at Springside, and dedicated as the )incent A# Hebert 'rboretu by "ayor Botjkowski in 3;;7# +n 3;6;, a gardening club known as the Springside Creenhouse Croup began operating out of an adjacent greenhouse# This facility has grown significantly and the group re ains acti!e there today with o!er 47 e bers# ,!er the 3;97s

and 47s, another nonprofit organization, the =riends of Springside Park, e erged and beca e incorporated, for the purpose of helping to preser!e and aintain the park while pro!iding land stewardship education for future generations# "ore recently, the Bestern "assachusetts "aster Cardeners 'ssociation, a nonprofit which e!ol!ed out of a E"'SS progra in 3;4;, has installed additional de onstration gardens near the house, and pro!ides workshop there throughout three seasons# +n addition to these four organizations acti!ely in!ol!ed in offering a di!ersity of ecological and agricultural educational progra ing, se!eral other organizations ha!e recently utilized Springside Park for educational progra ingF $erkshire Datural Resources *ouncil, the Hoff an $ird *lub, the $erkshire "useu , and hundreds of students in school groups fro ele entary to college le!els# This area in Springside Park is also an acti!e hub for cultural and social e!ents, including annual concerts, perfor ances, gatherings and other co unity acti!ities#

Past Study Recommendations

Se!eral studies by outside consulting parties in de!eloping the Hebert 'rboretu 's working "aster Plan include reco endations for usage of the Springside House

' 199 Ar!oretum "aster Plan report for the produced by $rian Cibbons on funding fro the 8epart ent of -n!iron ental "anage ent, the Dortheast *enter for Erban and *o unity =orestry, and Pittsfield $eautiful +nc, notes the building's 1Springside House is currently the head quarters for the Pittsfield 8epart ent of Parks and Recreation#
The House is essentially the center of the 'rboretu and would ake an ideal !isitors center offering tourist infor ation for the *ity of Pittsfield# The public could enjoy the wonderfully de!eloped grounds while learning what ore there is to do around Pittsfield and the rest of the $erkshire# 'dditionally, other arboretu offer resources to the public### suggestions include a library, a herbariu , or a restaurant#2

' #$$$ study !y the Con%ay School o& 'esign also proposes a role of the Springside House as a welco ing gateway to the park where a !isitors center for the surrounding 'rboretu would coe&ist with the e&isting Parks 8epart ent operations then quartered there#
1,nce people enter the Springside House, they are greeted by !olunteers who gi!e out 'rboretu aps, direct the to classes and workshops, or tell the a little history of Springside House and the grounds# The infor ation desk ay also ha!e books for sale and ite s pertaining to the education and enjoy ent of the 'rboretu # The south door leads people to a path which connects to the concert and social area#2

Springside House & Park ( Higher )ducation Colla!oration Concept Paper % 8e!eloped by the city in :737, en!isioned the building as an educational partnership to co ple ent the park's growing role as a hub of ecological learning#
GThe *ity of Pittsfield proposes to reno!ate the Springside House and utilize its :>9 acre Park and 'rboretu to pro!ide a !ariety of en!iron ental education and professional de!elop ent workshops for the regions secondary and post %secondary educators# +n addition, the *ity proposes to partner with $erkshire *o unity *ollege and "assachusetts *ollege of @iberal 'rts, and other co unity%based agencies to offer en!iron ental stewardship opportunities for students throughout $erkshire *ounty# 1' partnership with the Springside House and Park could pro!ide co ple entary out%of%classroo

learning e&periences for $** students and faculty as well as professional de!elop ent opportunities# H *ollaborating with the Springside House and Park would allow $** students the opportunity to participate in co unity ser!ice projects and co%curricular acti!ities that supple ent their classroo e&perience# +n addition, the site could ser!e as a center for en!iron ental education training and professional de!elop ent opportunities for ele entary school teachers throughout $erkshire *ount y#2 The educational partnership concept has been circulated since :733 and recei!ed so e interest fro local educational institutions, ost notably $**# Since school groups fro ele entary to college le!el, as well as se!eral other educational institutions, use the park regularly throughout the year for field trips, outdoor laboratory e&periences and other natural and ecological education, ha!ing so e for of indoor facilities on site to co ple ent this outdoor use would be ideal#2

*nput &rom Park +rgani,ations

't eetings throughout :73:%:73>, the )incent Hebert 'rboretu reaffir ed a desire for the reuse of the house as so e type of educational center and tourist destination, and ideally a reuse of rele!ance to the 'rboretu would pro!ide opportunity for offices for Springside organizations, educational technology and classroo spaces in such close pro&i ity to the di!erse lands of the park is seen as highly desirable# +n :73> 'nnual "eeting, the =riends of Springside Park endorsed a otion to ad!ocate for a reuse of the house for 1educational, cultural or historical purposes consistent with its location in the park#2 This was further established by a !ote on "arch 35, :73< to endorse the Springside Park *onser!ancy co ittee's reco ended guidelines for reuse# ,!er se!eral onths of eetings, the suggestion of a !isitors center or other !isitor%friendly hub was seen as desirable, in addition to space for educational acti!ities related to the park en!iron ent# ' e ber of the Springside Creenhouse Croup in!ol!ed in the Pittsfield )isitors *enter noted that !isitor traffic to that facility had dwindled to :5I of its pre!ious rate following a o!e fro the *olonial Theatre to the +nter odal Transportation *enter# @ocation of !isitor center facilities at an actual destination would be ideal for touris , and attract new !isitors to the park# +t was noted that the configuration of the building has in the past acco odated ultiple uses, and a traditional !isitors center could easily occupy a portion of the building while lea!ing a ple roo s and spaces for other acti!ities, which could be enhanced by the day to day presence of !isitors center facilities and in turn pro!ide additional interest and draw for !isitors#

The odel of an integrated Springside Datural Park *enter would pro!ide an ideal role for the house as part of a !isitor friendly, educational ca pus area that includes an 'rboretu , greenhouse facilities, de onstration gardens and hundreds of adjacent acres of di!erse ecosyste s within Pittsfield's largest park and downtown natural preser!e# $y pro!iding a the atic ulti%use center that draws upon the e&isting free resource of ultiple organizations already currently engaged in pro!iding a range of ST-" educational progra ing at Springside Park, as well as e&tensi!e recreational and cultural e!ents held on the grounds, Pittsfield can create a facility that will be a unique draw for !isitors celebrating the co unity's proud parks history and odern outdoors touris offerings, while si ultaneously pro!iding a tre endous benefit to the co unity by connecting acade ic learning with hands on opportunities to study botany, agriculture, forestry, zoology, and nu erous other disciplines of naturalist education# +n a anner re iniscent to the way in which the @ichtenstein *enter at the ore southern end of

downtown is a portal to all cultural and artistic offerings in the co unity for both tourists and residents alike, as well as an incubator for related projects and organizations, and as the reno!ated 3$erkshire historic fire station building is a portal and incubator facility for all anner of econo ic de!elop ent, the Springside *enter could be a beacon for all things 1Dature,2 as Pittsfield continues to grow into an increasingly green, agricultural, en!iron entally%aware co unity with e&panding opportunities for both ST-" education and outdoor recreation#

Potential Partners *n Rede-elopment &or this Reuse

Public / -ducationalF ,ffice of *o unity 8e!elop ent(Parks *o issionJ Pittsfield Touris *o ission / RS)P .Pittsfield )isitors *enter0J $erkshire *o unity *ollegeJ Pittsfield Public Schools Park organizationsF Springside Creenhouse 'ssociation, )incent A# Hebert 'rboretu , Bestern "ass# "aster Cardeners 'ssociation, =riends of Springside Park, "orningside Deighborhood +nitiati!e Potential Additional Partners F $erkshire -n!iron ental 'ction Tea $erkshire Historical Society $erkshire Datural Resources *ouncil $erkshire "useu $erkshire )isitors $ureau Cardens of the $erkshires Hoff an $ird *lub Pittsfield $eautiful Pittsfield 'gricultural *o ission Pittsfield Historical *o ission Pittsfield Tree Batch Tyler Street $usiness Croup Potential A-enues o& Funding . Categories/ ST-" -ducational Historic Preser!ation Public Parks Regional Touris KThis document was prepared by the Springside Park Conservancy master planning committee, with representatives from the Friends of Springside Park, Vincent J !ebert "rboretum at Springside, Springside #reenhouse #roup, and $orningside %eighborhood &nitiative, and unanimously endorsed in its final amended form by a vote of the SPC on $arch '(, ')*+, and officially presented to the City of Pittsfield,s -ffice of Community .evelopment on $arch /*, ')*+