This letter is regarding the criticism of the appearance of Ann Coleman’s proposed new gallery in Wilmington village, which I feel has an attractive and historically appropriate design. I am a professional historic preservation consultant with a long-standing connection to the Deerfield Valley, so I am familiar with Wilmington’s architectural history and the importance of preserving the village’s historic appearance. Those of you who know me understand how strongly I feel about the preservation and historic appearance of Wilmington village.
I am glad that people are concerned about how the new building will fit into the historic character of the village, but I do not think Wilmington should be treated as a 19th century theme park. Federal preservation standards state that new construction in historic neighborhoods should be compatible with the character of the area without creating a false historic appearance. I feel that the appearance of the Coleman gallery is contemporary yet compatible with the historic district, as the building has a minimal setback with an inviting stoop, is rectangular in massing, and has wood siding, regularly-spaced window and door openings, double-hung windows, and a decorative but not falsely historic wood cornice. I also feel that the glazed overhang is functional as well as historically appropriate, as the overhang is a common feature in historic buildings but the glass is a contemporary yet unobtrusive feature.
I hope everyone will consider supporting the construction of this building, which will help Wilmington recover both economically and aesthetically from Irene, and which will give its owner, who was especially affected, the opportunity to move forward.