BERLIN — Ellen Lang has been in Berlin politics a long time and in the town itself even longer so it is likely she’s prepared to find a way to appease the Berlin Historic District Commission. Lang, who represented the Humphreys Foundation before that body, was told last week that the proposed Chamber of Commerce Building refacing to which the Foundation committed was too ugly.
This week, although she was disappointed, Lang was more focussed on finding a way of honoring Ed Hammond that the Historic District Commission would find acceptable.
It was Hammond who was the driving force behind the Heritage Foundation and Humphreys Foundation grants that allowed the Chamber of Commerce to purchase a building that would also accommodate a visitors center.
“He did so much for the Town,” Lang said. “He put his money where is mouth is.”
In addition to serving on boards and committees throughout his adult life, Hammond was an avid town volunteer, one of those rare people who participates as much philanthropically as with elbow grease.
When the Humphreys Foundation elected to help the Chamber purchase the building — the Town of Berlin owns it on paper but the Chamber pays the note — one of the stipulations was that is had final approval over any naming of the building.
Since Hammond’s death last year, both the Heritage and the Humphreys Foundations as well as scores of community members have been considering ways of honoring his work for the town.
As Hammond was devoted to the notion of a visitors center, the thought was that the perfect way of honoring him would be to name the place after him.
Unfortunately the building is old and not very easy on the eyes and it was decided that as part of the naming the Foundation would bankroll a facade replacement. The plan was to put together something that was both affordable and tasteful in relation to the structure. Given that there is little that can be done with a big brick box, the plans focussed on dressing up the front to make it look more like a Town building and less like retail space.
The Historic District Commission rejected the notion out of hand. Although they weren’t completely clear on what specifically they wanted — they suggested a canvass awning and more brick — they were clear that there was no way they would consider the drawings presented them.
“We’re going to regroup,” Lang, who was to take the Commission’s decision back to her board this week, said.