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Historical Society Launches Capital Campaign for Grass Hill

Millbury Savings Bank establishes matching contribution

The Millbury Historical Society is working to fully and painstakingly restore the 150-year-old Grass Hill School on West Main Street, and is ready to begin the second phase of its extensive renovation. With a grant from the Commonwealth and a matching contribution from Millbury Savings Bank, the society recently kicked off a capital campaign to raise the balance of the nearly $100,000 needed to cover the costs.

Built in 1861, Grass Hill housed eight grades—grades 1 to 4 downstairs and grades 5 to 8 upstairs—until its closure in 1968. Today, the schoolhouse is one of the town’s oldest municipal buildings and serves as a living museum, with its vintage water fountains, slate blackboards, and wooden desks and benches. Annually, the school hosts a stop on the Millbury Public Schools’ Heritage Tour, where reenactors bring the classroom experience of 1861 to life for visiting second-graders.

“The vision of the Millbury Historical Society has always been to preserve the history of our town,” said Mary Lou Mulhane, the society’s vice president and chairperson of the Grass Hill School restoration committee. “Restoring the Grass Hill School and sharing it with the town and our students, now and in the future, is a great responsibility and honor for our society.”

The first phase of the renovation is complete and included painting and replacing the clapboards on the south and west sides of the building; reproducing the bell tower using the original bell; and restoring the wooden benches in the classroom. The second phase will be even more extensive, including replacing the clapboards and windows on the north and east sides of the building; installing new HVAC, electrical, and alarm systems; painting the interior; restoring the original bathrooms and adding a handicapped accessible bathroom; adding insulation throughout; repairing the well; and adding handicapped access. Costs are expected to top $90,000.

The society already has secured a grant of $25,000 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts toward the restoration. To help the society more quickly reach its goal, and to enable donations to make an even greater impact, Millbury Savings Bank has generously offered to match every donation made, dollar for dollar, up to $5,000 per year for five years, for a total matching contribution of up to $25,000.

“Through our matching donation, we hope to encourage others to give as much as possible to enable this school to teach future generations about our town’s history,” said Robert J. Morton, Millbury Savings Bank’s president and chief executive officer. “We’re pleased to help preserve this important landmark.”

The society is asking Millbury businesses and residents to consider a one-time donation or an annual gift over the next five years. Contributions can be made by mailing checks to Millbury Historical Society, PO Box 367, Millbury, MA  01527.

Pictured in the Grass Hill School’s first floor classroom are (L-R) Historical Society members Maureen Army, Janet Dumas, and Ken Dumas; Millbury Savings Bank President and CEO Robert J. Morton; and Historical Society members Cheryl Piasta, Mary Lou Mulhane, Rich Hamilton, and Deb Pousland. Members not present include Jon Flamand, Gary Francis, Jane Jung, and Frank Gagliardi.

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