Commision Approves Phase Three For Crowell Barn Landscaping

by William F. Galvin
Paul Doane pushes for phase three of the Crowell Barn Landscaping improvements. FILE PHOTOS Paul Doane pushes for phase three of the Crowell Barn Landscaping improvements. FILE PHOTOS

HARWICH – While improvements are at a standstill at the Brooks Academy building, progress is continuing at the Crowell Barn on the west side of the property along Parallel Street.

Paul Doane was before the Brooks Academy Museum Commission on May 29 seeking approval of the third phase of landscape improvements surrounding the barn, the former studio of renowned decoy carver A. Elmer Crowell that is used to host carving demonstrations and serves as a museum in his honor.

Four years ago Doane, a former state senator, began an initiative to upgrade the land surrounding the barn, which had been relocated to the Brooks Academy Museum property from Crowell’s former home in East Harwich. Doane planned to raise about $35,000 and improve the site in three phases.

He was before the commission last week seeking support for the project’s third phase. The initial phase, said Doane, included installation of an irrigation system, seeding a lawn and the addition of three trees. The site was loaded with trees before the July 2021 tornado uprooted them, he said.

Phase two included the placement of a split-rail fence along Parallel and Forest streets. A brick walkway was added from the parking lot to the barn. Doane had hoped to establish an outdoor seating platform in a small depression to the north side of the barn. He said the town does not have a good outside location for activities for programming and lectures, and this would be a great location for one. Doane did not receive a strong endorsement for the proposal.

Doane has been the primary sponsor of funding for the work. He said he raised about $1,500 and the Harwich Historical Society contributed money for the trees.

“It proved easier to me to just pay for it,” Doane said of the $35,000 spent on the work to date.

Phase three includes a split rail fence across the front of the site, creating separation from the parking lot, and adding a decorative display beneath the fence. Doane approached the Garden Club of Harwich which came up with a proposal for the installation of 100 lavender plants beneath the split rail fence. The lavender will also be placed a couple of feet from the brick walkway. Doane said Cynthia Sutphin of the Lavender Farm in Harwich will donate the plants, and Pro Fence is also giving him a deal on the split rail fence.

Doane was looking for the commission’s approval to move forward with the work in June. Commission member Sandra Hall recommended approval of the plan quickly, suggesting the commission may not have a quorum at the beginning of July. Hall was not reappointed to the commission and member Debora Miller just resigned. The commission was already short one member.

BAMC Chair Lynne Zalesak said the commission needs three members for a quorum. She encouraged anyone interested in serving to talk to the commission and the select board about an appointment. The commission has a lot of work to do in conjunction with a steering committee to address projects and funding for the historic Brooks Academy building, she said.

The three commission members voted to approve Doane’s proposal for phase three for the Crowell Barn.