‘Angel’ buys Williams House in Goshen, eyes museum


GOSHEN — The Williams House, a property steeped in history and a subject of great sentimental attachment for a number of people, was sold at auction Friday for $60,000 to a Chesterfield woman who wants to convert it into a museum that will be open to the public.

“It will be a museum, it will be open to the people of Goshen and the Hilltowns,” said Kam Oborne, the winning bidder. “It will be maintained in its total original form.”

In executive session on Friday morning, the Select Board decided to put deed restrictions on the property that prevents its buyer from demolishing the main house, except if required by law or local regulations. The restrictions also forbids the main house from being removed or relocated from the current property location. This was not known to the public, however, until the auctioneer announced the restrictions prior to the auction.

“It was appropriate and it was needed,” said Mike Rock, a member of The Williams-Boltwood House Trust, of the restrictions placed on the property.

Oborne was the only bidder on the property and she met the opening bid of $10,000. When that was not accepted BY THE TOWN?, she was asked to raise her own bid to $50,000 and Oborne raised to $30,000 before meeting the $50,000 mark. When told that the bid would be accepted if it was raised to $60,000, Oborne did so.

After the $60,000 was accepted, the assembled crowd burst out into applause and cheers.

Part of the Williams House was built in 1779 while another part was built in 1817. The house was the first post office in Goshen, the town’s first general store and the site of Goshen’s first town meeting.

The Williams-Boltwood House Trust was formed in 2009 to take possession of the house and turn it into a museum. However, issues with the title of the house prevented this from occurring.

In 2011, the town was informed that the heirs of the property would stop paying property taxes on it so that the town could foreclose it, clear the title, and transfer it to the trust via a Massachusetts General Law Chapter 30B process.

The Select Board ultimately decided not to use the Chapter 30B process for the property, which involves sealed bids in response to a request for proposals. Because trust member Nancy Clifford is one of the people liable for the property’s tax obligations, neither she, the trust nor members of the trust were able to bid on the property Friday.

Oborne is a Chesterfield resident with connections in Goshen. While she is not currently working, she’s previously worked as a physician’s assistant and with nonprofits.

Oborne said that when it became known that the trust could not bid on the property, people approached her about bidding on it and offered her financial support to make it possible. Some of the people who offered her support were trust members, but no heirs to the property did so.

“This place is magical,” said Oborne. “It to me would have been a crime for it not to be here.”

She said that she’s now going to work with lawyers to return the property to the people of Goshen.

“I’m going to sleep really well tonight,” she said.

Bob Labrie, another member of The Williams-Boltwood House Trust, said that the trust will work with an attorney to determine what they can do to work with Oborne.

“She’s an angel to me,” Labrie said.

Oborne said that the trust has told her that they would like the many artifacts the trust has from the house returned to the house for use in it as a museum, which echoed Rock’s thoughts about the matter.

“It all belongs together,” he said. “That’s what we want.”

One of the people present at the auction was Margaret Waggoner, a former Smith College professor and former chair of the Historical Commission.

Waggoner showed up to the auction with a sign that said “History matters! What’s it worth?”

“I’m please it’s finally done,” said Waggoner. “It’s been saved.” She also shared that Ralph Waldo Emerson used to stay at the Williams House and preach in town.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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