NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 5, 2010

Blaze at Maudslay

Fire destroys historic barn at state park

NEWBURYPORT — The charred remains of an historic barn nestled in Maudslay State Park continued to smolder yesterday, following a fire Saturday afternoon that remains under investigation.

The Newburyport Fire Department received a report of a structure fire at Maudslay at 1:58 p.m. Saturday and responded to the scene to see heavy smoke and flames coming from the old horse barn.

The building is 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 complex off Curzon Mill Road contains several buildings in various states of repair — some well maintained, others, like the barn, in serious need of help.

In December, the barn was boarded up by state Department of Conservation and Recreaton officials after a 3-year-old wandered into the unlocked and vacant structure followed by his mother and took a tumble down a staircase, cutting his head.

The Coachman's Complex includes the "coachman house," a large horse barn, tea house, a boathouse on the Merrimack River and a well house. They were built around 1900 for servants and employees when the property was a family estate.

Over the years, they have fallen into disrepair, so the state decided to sell it.

The Coachman's Complex was selected last summer by the DCR, which owns the land, to be leased to a private business under department's historic curatorship program, in which curators agree to rehabilitate and reuse dilapidated park buildings in exchange for a lease on the property

Andover resident Tara Wilson, who was selected as the winning proposal last summer, plans to convert the complex into a $2 million health and wellness education center that will offer a mix of spa services and educational programs, such as nutrition classes and healthy lifestyle retreats.

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