North Adams Library Mulls Restoration of Landmark Cupola /

The trustees meet on the renovated third floor of the building. 

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city may be known for its soaring steeples, but it also has an underused feature whose views easily rival those of its neighboring spires. 


The Blackinton Mansion’s two-story cupola offers an expansive panorama of the city’s downtown and its circling mountain range. It’s a sight that few have seen in the 120 years since the private residence became the North Adams Public Library. 


Tara Jacobs is hoping to change that. 


The city resident and School Committee member wants to see this long unused section of the historic mansion brought back to life, possibly through a series of fundraising events to restore the distinctive tower and open it to the public. 


“I was just thinking of ideas of how to reach the broader North Adams and Northern Berkshire community to raise funds to restore the cupola,” she told the library trustees on Wednesday. “It is more of a vague idea right now but it could become something more with more support from the library community.”  


The cupola was not renovated during the overhaul and addition to the library a decade ago and although it is structurally sound, it is deteriorating. The plaster walls are cracking and the wooden laths are exposed in some spots, it has no heating or air conditioning, and the paint is peeling from the exterior window moldings. A handcarved, dust covered winding staircase connects the two stories.


The third floor, which was renovated into meeting space, and the tower had long been used for storage. In 1955, a group of Williams College students removed tons of abandoned books from the tower “which had piled up such a crushing weight that library officials feared for the safety of the structure,” according to the North Adams Transcript. 


The cupola was a favorite architectural feature during the 19th century; a number were…

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