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From Barnstable Patriot Posted Jun. 20, 2013

Thank you for your recent editorial regarding the disposition of the historic Paine Black House in West Barnstable and its possible use as an ecotourism destination.

As you noted, the Paine Black House abuts Meetinghouse Farm. Over the past decade, volunteers who have worked to improve the Farm have been saddened by the deteriorating condition of this once charming property. Although discussion about the structure appears to be ongoing among relevant town departments, the cost of repairs, legal complexities and differences of philosophy about the disposition of unused town properties seem to preclude any progress.

In 2011, Meetinghouse Farm was the only respondent to a Town Request for Proposals for the Paine Black House. Because we have always believed the Paine Black House should functionally and aesthetically be reconnected to the surrounding Farm property, we proposed a partnership with the town to begin repair of the structure to support Farm and community events and in the long term provide seasonal lodging for a Farm caretaker.

Although our proposal was not acted upon, we continue to hope that this structure will not be lost. Perhaps renewed public attention and creativity will generate the community interest necessary to save this historic property. The Race Point Light House is a great example of what citizens can do, as is the work done on our own Sandy Neck Lighthouse. In fact, you don't have to look very far, to find examples throughout the Cape of historic properties that owe their survival to the love of history and passion of community volunteers.

Let's hope "Keepers of the Paine Black House" will come forward. This unique piece of Barnstable's history is being lost day by day.

Judy Desrochers
The Board of Directors
Meetinghouse Farm