Friends of the Town of Bedford Cemeteries adds funds to historical society project

On Sept. 26, John Wood, chairman emeritus of The Friends of Town of Bedford Cemeteries, and Julie Schappals, co-chairman, presented a check from the Friends for $400 to Susan Tufts-Moore, who accepted the donation on behalf of the Bedford Historical Society for its ongoing Stevens-Buswell Community Center project.

Tufts-Moore was taken by surprise by the donation, for the contribution took place when people were gathered at the Bedford Public Library for another reason, to share in the awarding of two Citizen of the Year commendations from the Friends. The award winners, Beverly Thomas and Jeanene Procopis, were cited for their many years of work on behalf of the Bedford Village Common park project. The pair applauded as the check was handed over to Tufts-Moore.

Tufts-Moore, whose grandparents moved to Bedford in 1946, has resided in the town for 34 years. The past president of the Bedford Historical Society thrust the check skyward as if to say, “Yes!”

“We gratefully accept this generous donation,” Tufts-Moore said. “We appreciate the support of the Friends and the attention that they bring to our outstanding project.”

The funds will help support ongoing renovation work at the old Stevens-Buswell School, located alongside the Town Offices, 24 N. Amherst Road. The Stevens-Buswell School building, built in 1921, is a town property that was leased to the historical society in 2010 as members focused on preserving and rehabilitating into a community center the site where so many of Bedford’s youth were educated. Later years saw the building used for other functions.

The goal of converting the structure into a multi-use community center has proceeded with little pause. According to the society’s website, mold remediation, asbestos removal, the installation of a new roof and new basement windows, plus extensive electrical work have been completed. Antiques, including light fixtures dating to 1938 and a large blackboard, have been stored off site for safekeeping. Safeguarded, too, are metal doors from a time when the lower level housed a jail.

New wood framing to support partitions is in place. Last year, work focused on the lower level of the school. A concrete floor that will support an elevator shaft was installed, as was the concrete housing for the base of the elevator. Many more enhancements are expected.

Various grants and continuing donations are funding the project. Activities benefitting the project include a wine tasting and gala auction, a yard sale, bake sales, ongoing sales of one-pound bags of coffee from CQ Coffee Roasters and other activities.

Arrangements with local restaurants including Shorty’s Grill and the Weathervane Seafood Restaurant have enabled a return to the historical society of a portion of patrons’ dinner receipts.

Many more dollars are needed before the doors of the Stevens-Buswell Community Center will open to the public. It is foreseen that the center will be a hub for community uses by all age groups.

Educational classes, music recitals, organization meetings, casual visits for relaxation and other activities are envisioned as happening at the new center. Volunteers to assist with future fundraising and new members to the organization are welcome.

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