History will be preserved in Rocks Village.
The village's historic Hand Tub House will receive a major renovation by the end of this summer. Several grants have been approved to pay for emergency repairs to the former fire house built in 1840.
"We just want the building to be kept standing," said Wimberley Burton, a member of the Rocks Village Memorial Association. "These grants are just wonderful."
The Rocks Village Memorial Association will receive $20,000 from the Methuen Festival of Trees and $28,000 from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund.
The Festival of Trees is a private non-profit organization, which has donated money to several restoration projects in Methuen and other communities in the Merrimack Valley.
"We thought it would be a great project in our neighboring community," said Ann Guastaferro, president of the Festival of Trees.
Guastaferro said her organization typically gets many applications from organizations looking to preserve historical places. After a meeting with their strategic planning group, Festival of Trees leaders decided the Rocks Village building will receive the grant. Since the organization began in 1994, the Festival of Trees has given $1.2 million through 146 grants.
Burton said she expects work on the Hand Tub House to begin in the next couple of weeks. The association has hired EaglePoint Builders of Belmont to stabilize the masonry walls, cement the entire foundation, replace brick lally columns in the basement and construct a system to divert water runoff from gathering at the building. The construction is scheduled to be finished by the end of August.
The Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund gave $28,000 to the historical project last week, after the $20,000 donated last year was not enough to complete planned repairs. The both grants required a matching amount from the association.
The Hand Tub House is owned by the city and Mayor James Fiorentini made it a priority to preserve the building's foundation.
"The Rocks Village neighborhood is so rich in history going back to the first settlers of Haverhill and the Hand Tub House is a critical part of our history," Fiorentini said.
The Hand Tub House has been used as a neighborhood meetinghouse in recent years and was a fire house before that. The two-story building has two fire doors, a gable roof and a bell tower. It is called the Hand Tub House because it was home to a hand tub, a manually operated fire fighting pump.
The building does not have a heating system, so after the renovations, the building will be used only in the spring, summer and fall, weather permitting.
After renovations are done in the summer, more work will remain. The next step is installation of a new roof. The current roof has two sizable holes and the association is looking to raise money for that project. The association held yard sales earlier this month, raising $2,100, and also held a fundraiser to commemorate the closing of the Rocks Village Bridge last Saturday with all money going towards the repair of the Hand Tub House.
The bridge will be closed for months so it can receive repairs by state workers.
• • •
Join the discussion. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to hgazette.com.