The Historical Commission is established by the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40, Section 8D. The Historical Commission interacts and coordinates its work with other Town boards and committees such as the Community Preservation Committee, the Planning Board, the Conservation Commission, and the M.N. Spear Library, as well as with the Friends of the Shutesbury Historical Commission and state agencies such as the Massachusetts Historical Commission.
The Historical Commission's mission is to preserve and protect the tangible evidence of the architectural, aesthetic, cultural, economic, archaeological, political, and social history of Shutesbury. The year 1492 A.D. is often considered when European colonial activities began in the Western Hemisphere. The Historical Commission is interested in all types of historical information and resource areas, both pre-Contact and post-Contact.
We are the town agency responsible for ensuring that preservation concerns are considered in community planning and development. As advocates of local preservation, we are also a resource for information about historical resources and preservation activities. We work with the Massachusetts Historical Commission and other agencies to preserve the distinctive and vital characteristics of Shutesbury. The Commission is the conduit through which any local sites pass if they are eligible for National Register consideration.
The Commission conducts research for historic or cultural resource areas, cooperates with other researchers, and coordinates activities with unofficial bodies organized for similar purposes. The Commission may advertise, prepare, print and distribute books, maps, charts, plans, and pamphlets necessary for its work from time to time.
To protect and preserve such places, the Commission may make recommendations about certification of historical or cultural landmarks.
Indigenous Cultural Sites in Shutesbury
Over the past several months, the Historical Commission has been exploring how we can best preserve Indigenous cultural sites in Shutesbury. We have been conducting research and working with consultants in order to deepen our understanding of Indigenous history in our region. We are planning educational programming for the public in the near future and have produced an Introduction to Indigenous Cultural Sites in Shutesbury. This report addresses a number of issues, including Indigenous land use, social justice, as well as the effects of Eurocentric bias in historical preservation. We hope this report and future programming will heighten awareness of Indigenous heritage sites in this region and respect for the continuing presence of our Indigenous neighbors. Additional educational materials are planned for later release. See link below for additional information about Native American cultural heritage and preservation.
Solar Zoning Bylaw
With the planned development of several new large-scale solar projects in Shutesbury, the community has begun discussing issues such as our Town's Zoning Bylaws. In the report below, entitled Historical Preservation and Solar Development in Shutesbury, the Historical Commission offers guidance on how our current zoning provides essential tools for equitable and appropriate historical preservation with large-scale development projects. We hope town committees and residents alike will find this analysis helpful in understanding some of the more complex aspects of historical preservation.
The Historical Commission is in the early stages of exploring the possible development of Historic Districts in town.
Digitization and Archiving
We are beginning the planning stages for inventorying and digitizing historical collections owned by the Historical Commission. These records, including donated material collected over the years, are currently housed in the Old Town Hall. We have recently been approved to receive technical assistance from the Massachusetts Roving Archivist Program through the Massachusetts State Historical Advisory Board and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. In the coming months, we will be looking for town volunteers to assist with the indexing and digitizing effort.
The most recent and up-to-date meeting notices are available on the Town Calendar.
All meetings will be held virtually until the Stay-at-home COVID-19 mandate has been lifted. The zoom meeting link is provided in the meeting's posted agenda. All of our meetings are public and the public is always welcome.