Skip to content

Home > Publications > Historic New England Magazine > Spring 2001 > News New England and Beyond

News New England and Beyond


Preserving Gropius House
Five years ago, when SPNEA preservation carpenters removed a rusting steel window on the south side of the Gropius House, in Lincoln, Massachusetts, for repair, they found that it had been installed without any flashing at the sill. Further investigation revealed that water infiltration over the years had not only damaged most of the window frames but also caused rot in the sheathing and wood framing. As a result of this discovery, SPNEA embarked upon a four-year, elevation-by-elevation, restoration and repair program of this significant twentieth-century structure. Proceeding systematically around the house, SPNEA has removed and restored the windows and installed flashing, developed with the assistance of engineers Simpson, Gumpertz and Heger, Inc. Framing and sheathing were carefully repaired, and the vertical redwood siding was repainted and rehung. In addition, the exterior steel staircase was dismantled, sandblasted to remove rust, galvanized, coated, and repainted. This spring the last group of windows will be reglazed, and interior plaster work and painting will restore the pristine look Walter Gropius intended. The work has been supported by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, Save America's Treasures, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

HGTV Visit
Last summer Home & Garden Television (HGTV) filmed the garden at Hamilton House, South Berwick, Maine, for its series "The Secret Gardens of ..." Director of Landscape Preservation Diane McGuire and Landscape Manager Gary Wetzel were both interviewed about the origins of this colonial revival garden, created by Emily Tyson and Elise Tyson Vaughan in the early years of the twentieth century. Major restoration work is currently under way, with the arbor recreated and installed and the cottage garden replanted with perennials and annuals of the colonial revival period. The segment will be included in "The Secret Gardens of Portland" show, which will air this spring on HGTV.

Measuring Tree Rings
SPNEA has been awarded a $10,000 Survey and Planning Grant by the Massachusetts Historical Commission to administer a project of dating historic buildings by dendrochronology, based on evidence contained in tree rings. Consulting specialists will take core samples of wood from buildings of known construction dates in eastern Massachusetts, such as the Old Ship Church in Hingham, 1681; Harvard University's Massachusetts Hall, 1718; and Old North Church in Boston, 1726. Patterns of growth in these samples will reveal a chronology of climatic change in the century prior to 1730. Samples from buildings of uncertain dates can then be matched to this visual time line. The dendrochronology project will help date the nearly two thousand buildings in the region believed to have been built before 1730.

Book Prize
The SPNEA Book Prize for "a monograph or exhibition catalogue published in 1999 that advances the understanding of the architecture, landscape, and material culture of New England" has been awarded to Brian Donahue's Reclaiming the Commons: Community Farms and Forests in a New England Town, published by the Yale University Press. At a time when fifty percent of Americans reside in the suburbs, this book is an inspiring call for action outlining ways that communities can preserve open land. Donahue outlines creative methods to ensure active use of farmland and forest that will deepen our relation-ship to the land around us. Watch for an announcement of a book prize program with a lecture and panel discussion in your mail and at

Spring2001_7bGallery Opening
SPNEA President Jane Nylander with Chairman Bob Owens at the opening of Pilgrims, Patriots & Products at SPNEA's One Bowdoin Square gallery.


Spring2001_7cNew Stewardship Property
The newest addition to SPNEA's Stewardship Program is the Captain Barney Hicks House, a well-preserved property in Westport, Massachusetts, that features a c.1790 farmhouse and numerous outbuildings. The property remained in Hicks family ownership for two hundred years before being sold in 1994 to long-time neighbors. The new owners' strong commitment to preserving the property led them to donate extensive preservation restrictions to SPNEA prior to selling it. In addition to numerous interior and exterior features of the house and outbuildings, SPNEA's restrictions will also protect site features such as stone walls and wooden gates.



-Compiled by Catherine Mageau, Marketing Coordinator

News New England and Beyond