“It’s one of the great miracles it passed,” he said.
CPA money has since aided not only historic preservation but projects including upgrading Crystal Lake and laying an artificial turf field at the high school.
Power was involved in establishing the Leatherworkers Museum at the George Peabody House, preserving the past that gave the Leather City its nickname.
“That was something that needed to be done,” he said.
As president of the Historical Society, a private organization, he helped to oversee a small empire, including the Sutton-Pierson House, the Gideon Foster House and the Osborne-Salata House on Washington Street; and the Felton houses, the Fire Museum and the Smith Barn on Felton Street. Weddings at the barn help pay the bills. Power will remain a lifetime member.
Power praised Mayor Ted Bettencourt for making the City Hall repairs. Further back, he recalled, “I was so lucky to have Mayor Mike (Bonfanti) here. He has a passion for history. And he’s a good guy. Even (Mayor) Pete (Torigian) — he took a big chance on me.”
At the start of the century, Power asked for a spot on the Historical Commission. “I was all fired up.”
Torigian noted that some ask for city positions because they want something; what did Power want?
In fact, he said, he wanted to save history. He’d developed a keen admiration for Peabody’s public-spirited namesake, 19th century financier and philanthropist George Peabody. Torigian gave him the job.
“And I’d never worked for him in any campaign,” Power noted.
“Bill has been a driving force in many projects over the last several years,” Bettencourt said. “I thank him for his hard work.”
“Bill has been a wonderful player in Peabody,” City Councilor Tom Gould said. “We’re going to miss him.”
Power sees his legacy simply — “I tried to raise the consciousness of Peabody about the history of the city and what value that has.”
Alan Burke can be reached at email@example.com.