Greenfield, MA—This week, the Connecticut River Conservancy’s (CRC) historic office building—the original 1802 Franklin County Courthouse located on Bank Row in downtown Greenfield, MA—will be graced with a beautiful and historically appropriate stainless steel sculpture of American shad. The sculpture replicates vernacular signage based on symbols and images that frequently adorned 18th century businesses and buildings. Local artist Nat Cohen created the sculpture that will be installed as part of CRC’s 65th anniversary celebration. The Connecticut River Conservancy, founded in 1952, protects the entire Connecticut River including tributary rivers and streams throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
“Nat is a talented and generous artist whose gift is a great way to cap our year of celebration and to help us demonstrate our work through art,” says CRC Executive Director, Andrew Fisk. The American shad represents CRC, both in the building artwork and in the organization’s new logo, because it is so linked to the history and ecology of our rivers. This iconic fish migrates up the Connecticut River each spring and are once again returning to the Connecticut River in large numbers. Their return is thanks in part to cleaner water and added fish passage at the dams from Long Island Sound to Wilder, VT.
The idea for a new sign began two years ago. “I have always had an interest in conservation, especially with river and watershed issues,” says Nat Cohen of Foothills Wood Studio, who designed the piece. “Our rivers are a source of great beauty, habitat, history, and recreation. I was interested in doing something for the community and am glad to bring attention to and celebrate this great resource.”
CRC worked with Tim Snow at The Steel Shed, Inc. in Bernardston, MA to fabricate the stainless steel sign. “This was certainly not their usual kind of job,” notes Cohen, “but Tim was great and guided us through a few tricky aspects of the project.” The Greenfield Historical Commission was involved in the design and approval of the project to make sure the project was in keeping with the Greenfield historical streetscape and the state-registered historic façade of the building.
The sculpture is among a number of other renovations in the works by CRC at the historic building, including improving energy efficiency and reducing the building’s carbon footprint through replacing its oil-fired heating system with air-source heat pumps and installing solar panels on the rear roof of the building. Funding to begin these improvements has been awarded by the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund with matching funds from major donors and CRC trustees.
Since 1952, Connecticut River Conservancy has been the voice for the Connecticut River watershed, from source to sea. We collaborate with partners across four states to protect and advocate for your rivers and educate and engage communities. We bring people together to prevent pollution, improve habitat, and promote enjoyment of your river and its tributary streams. Healthy rivers support healthy economies. To learn more about CRC, or to make a contribution to help protect the Connecticut River, visit ctriver.org.