By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Maybe it’s because the town wasn’t incorporated until April 7, 1855.
North Andover is chock full of history – yet many folks don’t realize it. What’s now known as the Old Center was actually settled in the 1640s.
The area that now takes in Andover, North Andover and the southern half of Lawrence was incorporated as the town of Andover in 1646. Pieces of Andover and Methuen were combined to form the city of Lawrence in 1847 and the North Parish section of Andover became the separate town of North Andover eight years later.
The Community Preservation Committee has voted to recommend several requests for money to maintain and enhance the town’s historic assets, including $397,000 for the North Andover Historical Society’s building preservation program; $130,000 for maintenance of the Scholfield Mill, which now houses the North Andover Thrift Shop; and $436,950 for a new roof for the town-owned Stevens Estate.
Robert Ercolini of the North Andover Historical Society appeared before the committee April 11 to request $397,000 to take care of “significant issues” at the Parson Barnard House, including the repair of its foundation.
The Rev. Thomas Barnard, who served as a minister in the town in the early 18th century, built the house at 179 Osgood St. in 1715. Terry Holland, a member of the Community Preservation Committee, recalled visiting the historic house when he was a student in the local schools.
The $130,000 the committee approved for the Sholfield Mill at 172 Sutton St. will be used to improve the roof and foundation.
James Scholfield, an English immigrant, bought the building along with mill privileges for the nearby Cochichewick Brook in 1802. He operated a water-powered carding mill at the site until 1812.
Anne Ericson, a retired middle school English teacher who is involved with the Thrift Shop, called the Scholfield Mill a “hugely historic asset” when she appeared before the Community Preservation Committee on April 11. When the committee approved the funding request a week later, she said she was “very happy.”
Town Manager Andrew Maylor said that if the property, which the town owns, is not properly maintained, it will deteriorate.
Maylor asked the committee to approve $436,950 to fix the roof of the Stevens Estate. The huge, Victorian-style mansion was built in 1886 by Moses Stevens, who owned many local textile mills.
The town acquired the 153-acre property at 723 Osgood St. in 1995. The Stevens Estate, which is rented for weddings and other social functions, experienced a few lean financial years but Maylor pointed out that it’s been earning a profit since 2012.
Keeping the estate properly maintained is bound to increase its profitability, he said.
John Simons, chairman of the Community Preservation Committee, said he appreciated the “passion” of those who spoke on behalf of North Andover’s historic assets.
The May 21 annual Town Meeting will have the final say on how the community preservation money is spent. North Andover voted to accept the state Community Preservation Act in 2001. The law authorized the town to charge a 3 percent surtax on local real estate tax bills.
Money raised under the Community Preservation Act can be used for the purchase of open space, historic preservation and affordable housing.