2015 Recommended Reuse
In 2013, the Board of Selectmen appointed a working group to conduct an extensive review and study of the two historical and iconic town-owned buildings in the Town Center. This thorough review was balanced with past Town Meeting votes, town-wide survey results, and the different viewpoints and considerations in the diverse make-up of the committee.
After reviewing the two buildings and their individual site issues, along with the nine statements of interest that were received, the JST/OL Working Group unanimously recommended the Weston Art & Innovation Center (AIC) proposal for the Old Library and the Friends of the Josiah Smith Tavern's proposal for a restaurant and not-for-profit space in the Josiah Smith Tavern complex.
These complimentary reuse proposals were summed up as "A Library in the Library and a Tavern in the Tavern" and were proposed as a two-phase development, which the Working Group determined to be the easiest and quickest way to bring these two historic buildings back into active use for the community.
A Tavern in the Tavern
In 2016, an RFP for adaptive reuse of the building was issued and the Selectmen designated the Friends of the Josiah Smith Tavern, a non-profit entity, as the preferred proponent for the reuse of the Tavern, Barn, and Connector.
The proposal by the Friends of the Josiah Smith Tavern provides for a 105-seat, "farm to table" restaurant in the Barn, Connector and original Tap Room, with subsidized rental space for Weston Historical Society, Weston Forest & Trail Association and the Women's Community League of Weston in the main "House" building. The second-floor ballroom will be available for tenant and community use. Landscaping around the buildings will provide a natural garden setting with walking paths and benches.
- Proposed reuse combination of a "right sized" restaurant and light office use for town-oriented non-profits is consistent with resident surveys and Town Meeting advisory vote;
- The Working Group believes proposed light usage and minimal alterations will be acceptable to Historic New England, which holds a preservation easement on the building;
- Sponsoring entity is extremely familiar with the property and history, and has relevant expertise;
- Uses as proposed in line with original donors' (Jones sisters) intent;
- On-site parking will be kept away from St. Julia's Church and the existing green space will be preserved
- Ownership of the building will remain with the Town and both taxes and rent will be paid by the restaurant operator:
A Library in the Library
The Art & Innovation Center had a ribbon-cutting and grand opening celebration on September 14, 2019. The following provides background information on this project.
The Weston Art & Innovation Center (AIC) will be an extension of the Weston Public Library, specifically for its programming in art, culture, creativity, and technology. It will be a learning center with a creative maker space in the upper "stacks" area, open flexible programming, learning, and special historic rental space in the landmark old Reading Room. The Weston Media Center will be in the lower level and will add to the variety of offerings, including a recording studio that will be available to Weston residents.
Design funds from the Community Preservation Act funds were approved by 2016 Annual Town Meeting and construction funds were approved by 2017 Special Town Meeting.
- Sponsored by a municipal entity with strong, established network in town;
- Represents “Arts & Cultural” reuse desired by residents;
- Preserves open, public access to the historic Old Library;
- Fits perfectly in the Old Library space;
- Preserves significant interior architecture with no alterations to the exterior – important for Weston Historical Commission and consistent with prior Town investment;
- This plan is entirely independent, solely on the Old Library site, and can proceed right away;
- This program works well with the proposed restaurant use in the Tavern (see above);
- The building remains Town-owned and controlled, and gives flexibility for future options;
- Sponsors are open to an opportunity to work with other organizations on programming;
- Estimated cost ($3M) within CPC funding availability and consistent with guidelines;
- Construction and startup costs will be supplemented by private fundraising, which has already begun;
- Complies with current zoning by-law (municipal use does not need a special permit);
- Approval requires a simple majority vote at Town Meeting, no bonding needed.
The Working Group
The Josiah Smith Tavern/Old Library Working Group was appointed by the Board of Selectmen and charged with facilitating and coordinating Town efforts to redevelop the properties.
The Josiah Smith Tavern, Barn, and Connector and Old Library are historically important to Weston, occupy prominent locations in our Town Center, and offer the potential to become significant cultural and architectural landmarks in Weston.
Previous reuse concepts, including the nine statements of interest the Working Group vetted can be found to the left of this page.
To assist the Working Group in providing specific and relevant expertise, two consultants were engaged:
- TDC - a non-profit management consultant to formulate a needs analysis for an 'arts and cultural center' in the Old Library, based on resident feedback from Town Meeting Citizens' Petitions and Town Surveys
- McGinley Kalsow & Associates - historic preservation architect to perform a feasibility analysis for the Tavern and Barn. This analysis informed potential sponsors about the buildings and helped the Working Group evaluate the Statements of Interest that relate to the JST/OL.