Historical Society moving ahead with Fayville Hall plans

A Planning Board hearing for Major Site Plan approval of SHS' new museum at 40-42 Central St is scheduled for April 24th.

Above: SHS is seeking approval on its plans for refurbishing the interior of the historic Fayville Hall to hold “the town’s new home for history and arts education”. (photo right by Beth Melo, rendering left from southboroughhistory.org)

Back in August, I shared Southborough Historical Society’s big plans to take over and renovate Fayville Hall. This month, officers of the board will appear before the Planning Board to seek Major Site Plan Approval (MSPA) for the project.

In their August announcement, SHS highlighted that museum, exhibit, and collection archive space was just part of what the building would be used for. They also planned to use the building to host functions, classes, arts and crafts workshops, and more.

On New Years Eve, SHS updated on the challenging work they were taking on in order to make the building functional:

42 Central St basement from SHS 12/31/22 updatewe have begun initial work to shore up the structure, and correct pressing water “issues” in the basement of our future home. It’s hard to believe from the photo [image right] that this will shortly be our new classroom space, but it’s true. Once this urgent work has been accomplished, and after a return visit to the Planning Board to present some simplified site plans, we should be able to begin construction in earnest. We are still hoping for a phased opening in the fall of 2023, but that of course is to a large extent in the hands of the weather and supply chain gods!

SHS has created a dedicated page on the website explaining more about their vision for the New Home for History and the Arts:

In order to stay relevant, historical organizations like ours need to embrace a much broader spectrum of cultural programming in order to fulfill another of our primary goals — “increasing a sense of community and place among the townsfolk.”

That is not to say we are abandoning historical education or our preservation advocacy—far from it! We are, however, going to bring it into the 21st century by emphasizing its arts and culture components. If you take a ballroom dance class with us, for instance, you are going to learn about the origins of 20th century jazz. A still-life painting class might focus on the women of the Boston School, like our own Helen Sears. 

For more details, visit the website here.

In a cover letter filed for the MSPA, SHS President and CEO Michael Weishan referred to a parking stipulation in the deed that he intends to ask the Select Board to agree to change. He notes that in the agreement between the Town and former owner:

Mr. [Jon Delli Priscoli agreed] to provide 8 “designated” parking spaces for users of the nearby park, together with four “additional” parking spaces “the location of which will be at the discretion of the grantee.” Further, the grantee is authorized to utilize “all such spaces” after 5 PM and also “during arts events conducted by the Grantee.” As written, this agreement is too vague to be legally binding, as all the planned activities are now “arts events,” and the town has provided no waiver of liability for this public use of private property. The Society plans to return to the Select Board before project completion and request new mutually beneficial language.

The public hearing will open Monday, April 24, 2023, at 7:15 pm in the Town House Hearing Room (and over zoom). (Look for the agenda to be posted here closer to the date.) The Town has posted relevant documents to the website for abutters and interested residents here.


The historic building was built by the Town in 1911 as a public hall and used for a variety of purposes over the years. (You can read more from the state’s historical database here and see photos from its use as a field hospital in 1918 here.)

For years, Town officials discussed the dilapidated state of the building and the prohibitive cost for improving it. In 2018 Town Meeting gave the Town permission to sell the property after a promise by the Select Board to prioritize preservation over profit.

Through a bid process in 2018, the Select Board agreed to sell the property to Delli Priscoli for just $21K. While his plans to preserve the property were the main selling point, the Town also hoped for a bidder who would allow parking by people using the playground or the baseball diamond across the street. Delli Priscoli’s bid accommodated that use.

Delli Priscoli’s plans for an Antique Shop in the building were approved by the Planning Board and he publicly stated he was investing in the renovation work. Then last summer, SHS announced it had sold its Southborough copy of the Declaration of Independence to fund purchasing and restoring the building. A follow up announcement clarified that Delli Priscoli agreed to donate the property to SHS (selling it for $100) and SHS funds would be dedicated to the remaining renovation work.

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