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The Common Restoration Project is a joint undertaking of the Westford Historical Society, Inc. and the town’s Historical Commission.

It began in 1996 when Westford landscape designer Gloria Gilbert was hired to draw up a plan for the Common that would clear the clutter of trees in the center and restore the allée of trees around the perimenter first set out in 1841.

Edwin Hodgman’s address to the Westford Ornamental Tree Association in 1876 tells the history of the original trees on Westford Common:

“In the year 1840 the town passed the following vote: That John Abbot and others may build a fence around the common, provided the town be put to no expense on account of the same.
Accordingly, in the following year, 1841, the fence was built, and the trees planted, and the expense incurred was met by voluntary subscriptions.”

Since the Common Restoration Project began, Westford families have made “voluntary subscriptions” of $39,000 for the planting of twenty-five memorial trees planted on the Common and thirteen memorial benches which have been placed on the Common and at the Fletcher Library, Westford Museum, Town Hall and in the Police Station courtyard.

The Bandstand on the Westford Common, c. 1890 .Click for larger view.

The Bandstand on the Westford Common, c. 1890 .Click for larger view. Click for a larger view

The Band Stand

June Kennedy’s book Westford Recollections has a wonderful photograph of Westford Academy students on a bandstand around the flagpole on Westford Common. That 1890 picture inspired the Common Restoration Project to look into reconstructing the bandstand in its original location, and in 2006, local woodworker David Fox was asked to give an estimate for the reconstruction.

The $20,000 estimate was more money than we thought we could raise, so the plans were set aside.

Then in the fall of 2007, Westford Rotary president Gary St. Martin contacted Town Manager Steve Ledoux and offered to make a substantial gift toward building a bandstand on Westford Common. Out came Dave Fox’s proposal.

On January 10, 2008, Rotary presented the Historical Society with a check for $7500. The following week, in a front page article in the Westford Eagle residents were asked to support the bandstand project with their own gifts. In less than a week, eight families had pledged $1000 each.

The Time Line

Westford Rotary not only supported the bandstand financially, they got a commitment from Nashoba Valley Technical High School to have their students help build it.

Nashoba Tech began building the base in six sections at the school the end of April, and the week after Memorial Day, local contractor Stephen Gauthier’s flatbed transported the sections to the Common where they were assembled by the Nashoba Tech students.

“Lend a Hand for the Bandstand” – May 31st on Westford Common

Nashoba Tech Students Build the Framework

Monday April 28 a Littleton Lumber truck arrived at Nashoba Tech with the lumber needed to build the base of the bandstand.
Soon the carpentry students had the first of the six sections of the base laid out on the shop floor.
Over the next four weeks, all the framing was completed and May 28th – May 30 the base was assembled on Westford Common.

Nashoba Tech carpentry instructor Paul Jussaume has overseen the work.

Donations Continue to Come In

Inspired by the generosity of the Westford Rotary gift of $7500, ten Westford groups and families have jumped on the bandstand wagon and each given gifts of $1000.
Additional donors are needed to pay for a wheelchair lift which is a $4400 expense unanticipated when the project began.
Bandstand Budget: $ 28,000
Gifts to August 1: 22,380

DP Turf & Irrigation Mentors the Westford Academy Community Service Team

Derek Preston agreed to teach the Westford Academy students how to install an irrigation system on the Common.
Last summer when the very successful Farmers Market began on the Common, the town’s Parks & Recreation director expressed concern that the extra wear and tear on the Common might ruin the grass with no sprinkler system in place.
Farmers Market volunteers talked to Common Restoration Project volunteers, who in turn asked the Westford Academy students if installing the system could be part of their May 31 work day
The answer: Yes!.
State Line Irrigation drew up the design, DP did the initial work on May 27 and 28, and on the May 31 work day, the WA students finished installing the system with Derek’s guidance. At 9 a.m., the system was turned on declared “Perfect” just in time for the Farmers Marker which opened its 2008 season on Tuesday June 24.

Who Is Making This Happen?

Many people from every corner of Westford have offered to help.
Ed Buckingham took the design for the bandstand that carpenter Dave Fox had made and Ed created the working plans for the Nashoba Tech students to work from.
Contractor Stephen Gauthier offered his flatbed truck to move the six sections of the bandstand from the Tech to the Common.
Ann Fragala of State Line Irrigation had her irrigation designer draw up the plan for the sprinkler system on the Common.
All these professionals donated their time and expertise.
On May 31st, students from the Westford Academy Community Service Team brought it all together and following some finsihing touches, we will again have a bandstand on the Common. See the photos of the day at the westford.com home page.

What’s Next?

Dave Fox will make and install the decorative details replicating the detail on the original 1861 bandstand frieze and the railing will be milled and installed.

June 12, Aztec Tent and volunteers from the Farmers Market put up the tent to shade musicians on sunny days. Since we currently are unable to use the bandstand because the wheelchair lift is not yet installed and inspected, the tent will be taken down the first week in August and stored. In future seasons, the tent will be up from 4th of July to Labor Day, then be taken down for the winter.

Auguest 15th, the Shorty Platform Lift to allow wheelchair access to the bandstand will arrive from Indiana. Nashoba Tech electrical students working with instructor Kevin McDermott have already installed the electricity for the lift and Gary Belinsky of Prime Electric in Westford will make the lift operative.

During August, volunteers continue painting the trim on the bandstand Bandstand Green.

Plaques to thank the $1000 donors will be installed this month.

The afternoon of Sunday October 5 will be the 2nd Annual Common Celebration and on that date Westford Rotary will cut the ribbon and officially dedicate the bandstand on Westford Common.

To Make a Donation

Gifts of all sizes are appreciated.

We have received a dozen $1000 gifts and these donors will be acknowledged with a plaque on one section of the bandstand.

The wheelchair lift required by the state’s Architectural Access Board is an unanticipated expense. We hope to find donors to underwrite the $4400 cost, and again donors of $1000 toward the lift will be thanked with a plaque.

Donations may be sent to PO Box 411, Westford, MA, 01886. Please make your check payable to the Common Restoration Project.

Contact common@westford.com for more information.