Billerica Town Common
Built - c. 1890
The town of Billerica is located 24 miles northwest of Boston. Its name is the only one in the United States to bear that name with its sister town, Billericay, located in England. The town was primarily based in agriculture up to the 1850s when the Faulker Mills and others began to crop un in North Billerica along the Concord River operating until its demise in the 1950s and replaced by several high technology firms.
Billerica's rather unique bandstand is located on Billerica Town Common and dates back to 1890 with town records being rough notes with non-specific design and date of construction. The conclusion of the date of the structure is based on comparisons with others of similar character. The earliest reference to the bandstand in town records mentions it in the program for the July 4th, 1892 celebration and the earliest dated photograph taken on the common of the bandstand is in 1904.
After many years of use, the bandstand became unusable and in dire need of repair. A bandstand committee approached the Historic District Commission in 1996, approved a new design for the structure restoring it back to the way it originally looked in 1890.
The job of repairing the symbol of the town began in May of that year after Mr. Nevell Rivet, a committee chairman, applied for a building permit through the Building Inspector Ruth Ann Bossi. The permit she then issued allowed the work to be exempt from having to comply with the handicap accessibility laws due to its original design with the bandstand now being strictly ornamental for the exemption to apply, though.
When the work was completed, a band concert was held from the newly-renovated structure but a complaint was filed by the local Commission on Disability and a cease and desist order had to then be initiated prohibiting its further use until the matter of a handicapped-accessible ramp was added to the structure.
The bandstand has remained unusable until the matter is resolved although many citizens believe that the state should allow a waiver of the handicapped laws since the structure would only be used a few times a year. The concert held when the bandstand was rebuilt in 1996 drew more than 400 people who had a marvelous time and loved this rather unique-looking bandstand and all admired and appreciated it for its historical significance and beauty. The only part of the original structure is the finial positioned where the roof trusses join.
There was another bandstand structure in North Billerica which was probably erected between 1894 and 1901. Most of the property the bandstand was situated on was owned by the Talbot Woolen Mill who also supported the Talbot Mill's Band who played on the structure during the summer months and who also probably played on the current bandstand.
INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY:
Alec Ingraham, Billerica Historical Society