PRINCETON (CBS) – It is the home of Redemption Rock, where a ransom was paid to release kidnapped colonial Mary Rowlandson from her Native American captors during King Philip’s war. Its most notable landmark is the popular ski area at Mt. Wachusett. Princeton is a community of 3,400 people, full of open space and recreational areas.
On the backside of the Mt. Wachusett slopes, at an old building owned by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, there is activity for the first time in decades.
Built at the turn of the century, the building was one of the first designed for the state park service. It housed the superintendent who cared for the Wachusett Reservation. But it’s now been vacant for more than 30 years.
“It’s one of those buildings that a lot of people pondered and dreamed about. [They thought] wouldn’t it be so cool to have something up there,” explained longtime Princeton resident Katherine Huck.
Now Huck and business partner Robin Springfield have that chance. Soon the historic structure will be a cozy place to enjoy coffee and a muffin, or a beer and a sandwich.
Thanks to a unique program offered by DCR, Robin and Katherine will invest hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money to bring this old building back to its former glory. In return, they will get a long term lease to operate a second location of their business, The Mountainside Market, at the site.
It’s not a small job. Restoration requires carefully removing original trim to have it stripped down and repaired off-site. Contractors number each piece to make sure it is put back together in the proper place. An addition is also being added to the back to make room for a modern kitchen.
The DCR program is called The Historic Curatorship Program and it is responsible for bringing back to life many properties across the state, including historic buildings in Newburyport, Lowell, Easton, Topsfield, Rockport, Plymouth, Boston and even a mountain top restaurant on top of Mt. Greylock in Adams.
Part of the curatorship program requires the public to have access to the property at least a couple of times a year, but Robin and Katherine want it to be a year-round gathering place for skiers, hikers and other visitors.
The project includes a large outdoor patio with fire pits and Adirondack chairs, overlooking a nearby hiking trail.
According to Katherine, many residents have told her they are just happy to see something happy with the project. “We are so excited to share it. People can imagine what it looked like back in 1903.”
Most of the construction is expected to be complete in March, but there’s no word on an opening date.