Saturday, September 06, 2014

Fwd: Letter to President Adam Falk and Jim Kolesar RE: Harper House

Here is a copy of email correspondence from Williamstown resident Tela Zasloff to Williams College President Adam Falk regarding the college's proposal to raze a house on Stetson Court in order to make room for a new dormitory.   Here is a LINK to the iBerkshires story about the house and the Historical Commission vote to delay the tear down for at least 30 days.

From: Tela and Joe Zasloff <>
Date: September 6, 2014 at 1:24:38 AM EDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Letter to President Adam Falk and Jim Kolesar RE: Harper House
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Fwd: Fwd: To the Williamstown Historical Commission. The Harper House on Stetson Court
Date: Sat, 06 Sep 2014 01:20:31 -0400
From: Tela and Joe Zasloff <>
To: Adam F. Falk <>,, Tela Zasloff <>

Adam Falk, President
Williams College

Dear President Falk,

Below is a letter I sent today to the Williamstown Historical Commission, on Williams College's announcement at the commission's August 28 meeting, that the College intended to demolish the Harper House at 54 Stetson Court. 

The reasoning behind this decision, as explained by Executive Director of Design and Construction, Rita Coppola-Wallace, was based in inaccuracies about the history of the Harper House and showed that the College, in sending out one "internal email to the college community" about this house, was glaringly deficient in considering its responsibilities to the Town.

I hope you will weigh in on this issue and help the college decision-makers see that preservation of local historical treasures is part of their role.

Thank you.

Tela Zasloff
33 McCauley Lane
Williamstown, MA  01267
(413) 458-4846

To the Williamstown Historical Commission:
    William Barkin (2014)
    Linda Conway (2014)
    Sarah Currie (2015)
    K. Scott Wong (2015)
    Barbara McLucas (2016)

Dear Williamstown Historical Commission,

I read with some alarm, in iBerkshires, your commission's recent discussion of Williams College's intent to demolish the Harper House in order to build a dormitory.  My husband and I and our four daughters rented the house from Sylvia Harper for eight summers, 1980-1988, and still think of those years as the most precious of our Williamstown summers, primarily because of the graciousness and dignity of that house.

The Harper House is important to the town as a fine example of New England architecture and quality of living, with space and light in all the rooms and fixtures, arched doorways, windowseats that speak eloquently of an era in our history as only architecture can. Sylvia Harper was proud of the tradition this house represented and left around on table tops, tokens of her own and her husband's history, including letters between Mr. Harper's father and his good friend, Woodrow
Wilson.   From just being in such an atmosphere, we all, as a family, came to know Williamstown and New England tradition.

The iBerkshires article makes it clear that your commission is trying to figure out how it might recommend saving this house from demolition. Please continue to do so.

I would like to refer you to this article: about a Cambridge Historical Commission award granted to Harvard for saving, and moving three historic Victorian houses for Harvard Law School, to make way for a new academic  complex.  Williams College is, like Harvard, determining the fate of a piece of historic architecture invaluable to the town and I urge that Williams make the same kind of decision to preserve it. 

Tela Zasloff
Williamstown, MA





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