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Wenham War Memorial Committee Awaits Design Proposals

A plan to use the car barn lot downtown as a war memorial park will need approval by Town Meeting in May.

A volunteer committee is uniting around a plan to develop a downtown at the so-called car barn lot, a vacant lot that was deeded to the town of Wenham in 1926 for use as a park.

The War Memorial Committee expects to review design plans from a landscape architect by the middle of March and will craft a warrant article for Town Meeting in May.

Architect Kim Ahern has been authorized to spend up to $4,000 to create alternate design proposals for a memorial park at the site, according to Selectman Harriet Davis.

"We look forward to seeing what she comes up with in two weeks," Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren said when the Board of Selectmen met on Tuesday night.

At a meeting of the memorial committee on Tuesday, members discussed the possibility of holding a public forum to share their proposal with citizens prior to Town Meeting.

"I'm hoping this landscape plan is something we can all agree on," committee chairman Bruce Blanchard said.

Blanchard said a preliminary draft of a warrant article would seek approval to make the plot a permanent war memorial park under the control of a war memorial commission.

The car barn lot, so called because it was the site of a 100-foot-long barn for housing horse-drawn streetcars from 1885 to 1920, was deeded to the town in 1926 for preservation as a park or for the construction of a town library or "other suitable public building," according to the original deed.

John C. Phillips purchased the property from the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway Company in 1920 and conveyed it to a preservation trust to prevent it from becoming a gas station, according to committee member Jack Hauck.

Hauck said the plot was the site of the town's first public house, or tavern, in 1643. The tavern was owned by William Fiske, brother of the town's first minister, John Fiske.

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