Renovation planned for historic ballroom in Natick – News – MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA

Work could start in three months to transform the Clark Building ballroom to office space.

NATICK – An historic ballroom in the Clark Building downtown that has sat vacant for decades could be converted into office space.

The work could start in three months, and wrap up next summer, according to Amir Kripper, principal of Kripper Architecture Studio in Boston, the firm hired by the building owner, Kensington Investment Company.

“It’s a beautiful space,” Kripper said of the 5,000-square-foot ballroom on the building’s third floor.

The Clark Building dates back to 1872. Historical events held in the hall include the 1875 wake of Natick resident Henry Wilson, who served as vice president under President Ulysses Grant.

Kripper stressed the ballroom’s original moldings – including those on the ornate ceiling – will be preserved. So will the arched windows in the hall, and timber will be used the match the building’s structure.

Once the design reaches a more advanced stage, it will be presented to the Natick Historical Commission for review and input, Kripper said.

Efforts to contact Historical Commission Chairman Steve Evers and member Vincent Vittoria for comment were unsuccessful.

Two years ago, Vittoria told the Daily News he was part of an effort to preserve the ballroom through a group called Friends of Concert Hall. At that time, the hall was one of 25 properties Preservation Massachusetts considered for its biennial list of “Most Historic Endangered Resources.”

Natick friends group spearheads effort to restore concert hall

It didn’t make the final cut, said Jim Igeo, president and chief executive officer at Preservation Massachusetts, because the committee didn’t know the building’s owner or whether it would ever have the opportunity to work with them.

At the time the committee finalized its list, ownership of the Clark Building was in flux. Stephen Wolfe, who owned the Clark Building for 40 years, died in August 2018.

Tenants ponder future of Clark Building in Natick

Converting the ballroom to offices was Kensignton’s decision, Kripper said.

The investment company declined a request for an interview.

Market trends during the coronavirus pandemic call for flexible office space in the suburbs, according to Kripper, where workers can meet collaboratively on an as-needed basis. Shared space is part of the trend, and Kripper envisions offices in the ballroom will cater to creative fields like architects, designers and advertising agencies.

“People don’t want to go to downtown Boston anymore,” he said.

Two new staircases and a chair lift to bring the building into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act are also part of the design plans. Existing tenants are not expected to vacate during renovation, Kripper said.

“I’m extremely excited to be working with this building and with Natick,” Kripper said.

Kripper has prior experience designing renovations for historic buildings, including the Sears Crescent Building in downtown Boston and The Emerson, a multi-unit residential building in Cambridge.

Henry Schwan is a multimedia journalist for the Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] or 508-626-3964. Follow him on Twitter @henrymetrowest.




Source Article