State steps into Gough House.Byline: Michael Kane
BOYLSTON - According to Boylston Historical Commission member David Bottom, the Gough House, with the exterior renovated, "now sits there, in all her grace and beauty for all to see." Work can now begin on the interior of the former home of temperance leader John B. Gough. And, it got a boost last week, when state Representative Harold Naughton Jr. announced a $125,000 disbursement toward the restoration project in the state's Fiscal year 2009 budget.
"I don't have a big check to present you," Naughton joked. "But it's more than in the mail. The money is in the pipeline."
Gough's history is well-known locally, with several books being written by local Historian William Dupuis on the man whose life was in ruins due to excessive use of alcohol, but who turned it around to lead one of the great social movements in American history, becoming one of the world's best known orators in the process.
"The people in Boylston should be commended by the rest of the people in the Commonwealth for taking an interest in a sacred trust, or else another treasure would have been lost," Naughton said. "If we forget our past, God forbid what will happen to us in the future.
"If we take our history for granted, why should our children respect what we do with our lives?" Naughton asked.
The money is the latest in local representatives' recognition of the historical value of the home. Last year, Congressman James McGovern announced a $250,000 federal grant. And, as far as the state goes, there is more to come, Naughton said.
Naughton said he and state Senator Harriette Chandler have placed a $1.25 million marker in an upcoming bond bill. Support for the project is growing and it includes Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Naughton said.
"It's about time we grab the Boston guys by the scruff of the neck and say `history happened out here too," Naughton said. "It's our job now to go to Governor (Deval) Patrick and say, `governor, execute this line item. It's worth it.'"
Hillside Restoration member Nel Lazour said the money will be used to begin interior work on the home. Once completed, the home could be used for multiple purposes, including business functions, parties and symposiums, like the one held last year on alcoholism that drew groups from the medical and educational community together to discuss solutions for societal problems caused by alcohol.
"It's very exciting to know we have these funds," Lazour said. "We are looking at getting all the systems put back in - all the systems that make a house functional."
Current plans call for dividing the house into a function area and rentable space for either a small business or an educational group, like a college.
In a humorous presentation that touched on subjects as varied as mothers-in-law to Naughton "being worth the price of admission," Historical Commission member David Bottom credited the Hillside Restoration Committee for its "unflagging and undaunted" work so far, which has led to the stabilization of the house and the restoration of the exterior.
"Without your spirit and the romances of your soul, another historical treasure would be gone from our landscape," Bottom said. "This lovely homestead must be preserved in perpetuity for all time."
Bottom compared the home to its designer and builder, Gough, who he said "rose, phoenix-like, from the dregs of society and went on to inspire millions."
The house, he said, has the ability to do the same, especially for students of history and children, who he said learn better when there is "something concrete" for them to see, feel and experience, rather than reading about it in a book.
"The day is coming when the members of our bucolic community will gather on that front lawn and drink it all in," he said.
PHOTOG: Banner photo/MICHAEL KANE
CUTLINE: (1) Hillside Restoration member Nel Lazour is interviewed by Channel 3 news outside the John B. Gough House on Sept. 4. (2) State Representative Harold Naughton Jr.'s announcement of state funds for Hillside drew Worcester's Channel 3 news to Boylston.