Petersham looks to market 118-year-old inn

BY Zachary Comeau

Courtesy/Town of Petersham
Courtesy/Town of Petersham
The Nichewaug Inn is in varying stages of disrepair after being vacant for decades.

Petersham town officials are again looking to take the burden of the 30,000-square foot, 118-year-old Nichewaug Inn and Academy property off its books.
Last week, the town began soliciting bids for the property, which has been owned by the town since 2007.
The town is seeking proposals to redevelop the property from an established business, corporation or firm. A minimum price has not been set for the building in order to encourage proposals, according to the request for proposals document.
Any proposal will require a two-thirds vote at Town Meeting to move forward, according to the document.
The inn, located on 6.6 acres in the Petersham Common Historic District, has undergone several renovations and additions since it was built, including a large brick academic building built when the structure became a girls parochial boarding school in 1952.
That school closed in 1973, and the property has not been occupied for several decades. Heat and electricity to the building have been shut off, and the town has conducted minimal maintenance since it took ownership. 
No public water or sewer services exist in the town, and the property’s current water and spectic systems aren’t code compliant. 
Since 2007, town officials and community volunteers have tried to explore redevelopment opportunities. A special Town Meeting in 2010 voted to demolish the building, but a demolition grant was not received. The Board of Selectmen declared the property as surplus in 2014. 
Town Meeting in 2015 soundly rejected a redevelopment proposal of the site, which would have included 38 condominium units. Voters at the same meeting also rejected articles for total demolition, partial demolition and abatement of hazardous materials.
At another 2015 Town Meeting, voters approved the hiring of a consultant to guide the town through an arduous process of marketing and redeveloping the site. 
The town is currently undergoing abatement of asbestos and other hazardous material in the building.