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Pittsfield's Palace Park Arch Retiring Due to Structural Settlement
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
05:00PM / Saturday, October 02, 2021
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The arched entrance into that parking lot of the Cooper Center, known as a Palace Park, will be demolished in the coming week because of structural issues.

The old Palace Theater's distinctive entry arch. The building was demolished years ago. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The masonry arch at Palace Park on North Street will be taken down because of structural settlement that could potentially pose safety hazards.

Manager of the Cooper Center LLC — the park's owner — Robert Shan said public safety is the main concern.  

"We've got some settlement, obviously we don't know how it was built but there are concerns that there's just too much settlement going on and we're concerned that the arch is getting into an unsafe condition," he explained.

"So we are removing the arch, we're not removing anything else at this time, we're going to assess what other things we can do with that area."

The work is expected to take place during the week of Oct. 4 and the timeline is set for a maximum of two days. Only the arch will be removed at the park, the surrounding brick semi-walls will stay because they do not pose a threat.

"While the foundation and the walls are settling, we're not worried about the walls falling over," Shan explained. "But as the walls sink, that arch could become disengaged and fall and we just cannot have that."  

The arch is currently sectioned off with caution tape so that people do not pass under it.  

Shan said there is an opportunity to do some art installations by the sidewalk in the future. The Cooper Center will be working with Pittsfield Director of Cultural Development Jennifer Glockner over the winter on a design that could enhance the aesthetics of the park and go along with the city's Downtown Streetscape Project. A peace dove at the pinnacle of arch is part of an art project in 2019.

The structure at 116 North St. dates back to the mid-1990s. It was built to commemorate the Palace Theater, a Pittsfield landmark that formerly stood on the lot.

The theater was taken down in 1993 and, in 1994, City Savings Bank purchased the property for parking. Around this time, the arch that is  the pedestrian entrance to the parking lot was built.

The design was meant to be a replication of the arches that existed on the original Palace Theater.

In 2017, the Cooper Center, located at the corner of Fenn and North Streets, purchased the property with an interest in the revitalization of Pittsfield.

"We feel that Pittsfield is going to continue to grow," Shan said. "I think even more so with what's going on with people moving out of the big cities."

While the park is private property, it recognizes that people often pass through the park while downtown and had given the community access to it at times.

In an effort to get involved with the fabric of the neighborhood, they coordinate with Glockner and the city to close out the property for community and cultural events.  

Palace Park directly abuts the Lichenstein Art Center and Barrington Stage Company while being within the Downtown Creative District.

Shan said they are "good neighbors."

"We're boots on the ground," He said about the Cooper Center. "And we really felt that Pittsfield was a town, a city that was coming back and we wanted to to be involved up there."

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