NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 13, 2010

Future of Maudslay complex uncertain

NEWBURYPORT — A week after a fast-moving blaze destroyed a historic horse barn in Maudslay State Park, the future of the site is uncertain.

As the state fire marshal's office continues its investigation into the cause of the fire, a state Department of Conservation and Recreation spokesman said a North Andover woman's 2008 proposal to restore the complex into a spa remains unsigned.

Last Saturday, fire consumed the barn, part of the 4-acre Coachman's Complex at the southwestern end of the popular 450-acre, state-owned park on the western edge of the city. The barn was the largest structure in the complex and was to be a central component of the spa.

The five-structure complex off Curzon Mill Road was built around 1900. As it has deteriorated due to lack of maintenance, it has caused headaches for park officials, including an injured toddler who fell down the stairs last year. The buildings have been boarded up to deter vandals.

Yesterday, while families and joggers enjoyed the park, the charred remains of the barn were boarded up with Do Not Trespass signs visible on many of the windows and door. The area around the barn was blocked off by yellow caution tapes snaked around surrounding trees.

DCR spokeswoman Wendy Fox said her office is still deciding how to proceed and will likely have more of an idea later this week.

The status of a proposal for an Andover woman to restore the complex and convert it into a spa is also unclear.

"We just don't know yet," Fox said. "She has been designated but nothing has been signed."

In 2007, DCR announced it would solicit proposals to restore the complex in exchange for a long-term lease under its historic curatorship program. The program is designed to get private investment to restore historically significant structures the state can't afford to maintain.

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