FRAMINGHAM – The City of Framingham is partnering with several institutions in Framingham Centre to submit an application to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to designate the Framingham Centre Common as a cultural district.
Tonight, January 15, the 11-member Framingham City Council will asked to approve a resolution in support of the cultural district.
A cultural district is a specific geographical area in a city or town that has a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. It is a walkable, compact area that is easily identifiable to visitors and residents and serves as a center of cultural, artistic and economic activity, according to the state.
Begun in April of 2011, the Cultural District program has recognized 45 Cultural Districts in 40 communities across the Commonwealth, including ones in neighboring Natick and Marlborough.
The Framingham Centre Common Cultural District effort began several years ago and was initiated by the late State Rep. Chris Walsh.
The City’s application is targeted to be submitted in February 2019,
according to Erika Oliver Jerram, deputy director of community & economic development to the City Council.
It requires no funding from the City, wrote Jerram to the Council.
“The organizing entities have formed a non-profit, established by-laws and are building a board of directors. They have sought seed money from the Cultural Council to begin strategic planning as soon as the designation is awarded,” wrote Jerram.
Members of the organizing committee include:
Annie Murphy, Framingham History Center
Debra Petke, Danforth Art Museum
Dale Hamel, Framingham State University
Paul Joseph, Metro West Chamber of Commerce
Helen Lemoine, Leadership Metrowest
Susan Nicholl, Metrowest Visitors Bureau and now Senator Spilka’s office
Joel Winett, Framingham Cultural Council
Mirta Luna, Northeast Bank
Francesca Cerutti, Framingham Access TV
Kathy Zeman, First Baptist
Jim Snyder, Framingham Director of Parks and Recreation
Erika Oliver Jerram
Marianne Iarossi, Framingham Senior Planner
Jenn Doherty, Historic Preservation Planner
So why the Framingham Centre Common?
“Since the 18th century the Centre Common has been the institutional heart of Framingham. The meetinghouse and later Village Hall were located at the Centre Common, as well as the Framingham Academy and Edgell Memorial Library – both now part of the Framingham History Center. With the opening of the Worcester Turnpike (Route 9) in 1810, the Centre Common developed into a commercial hub. The Centre Common and surrounding buildings were designated a local historic district by Framingham Town Meeting in 1978, and a National Register of Historic Places district by the National Park Service in 1990. Multiple historic structures are located in the area, representing different styles ranging from the early 19th century to the present. Today Framingham Centre includes a mix of non-profit cultural and educational organizations, businesses, and residences. Several major organizations, such as the Framingham History Center, Framingham State University, Danforth Art, churches such as First Baptist Church, First Parish Church, and Plymouth Church, and local businesses have been vocal advocates for this district initiative for many years,” wrote the report to the City Council.