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Home > Publications > Historic New England Magazine > Summer 2003 > Living with the Past, Planning for the Future

Living with the Past, Planning for the Future


ABOVE James Pardee's c.1782 symmetrical brick house features a center entry flanked by two window openings and brick end chimneys.

BELOW Greg Mesniaeff

In 1782, James Pardee, a second generation resident of Sharon, Connecticut, built his Federal brick house at the north end of town, on the homestead lot that his father, John, bought in 1739. In 2002, owner Gregory Mesniaeff ensured that James Pardee's brick house, and the six acres of land surrounding it, will remain intact and unaltered well into the future. The Pardee Homestead is the sixty-seventh privately-owned historic property to come into SPNEA's Stewardship Program, which protects historic buildings and land through the use of preservation restrictions.

After purchasing the Pardee House in 1998, Greg Mesniaeff and his wife Liz undertook several projects to update it, including repainting the interior rooms using Liz's selections of paint colors appropriate to the period of the house. With the first phase of their restoration complete, they began to investigate how to protect the property into the future. Exploring both local and national programs-which they either found "too narrow or not locally focused enough," they approached SPNEA, having recently joined as a new member. "There aren't a lot of choices for protecting private properties, and not enough information about the structured programs that do exist," Greg says. He settled on SPNEA's Stewardship Program because he could protect the historic interior and exterior features of Pardee Homestead and its surrounding fields and forest while still maintaining ownership and control of the property. Greg doesn't fear that the restrictions will affect the value of the property; instead, he says, SPNEA's program enables people such as himself to "reach out hundreds of years into the future and set the fate of their properties."

The advice SPNEA receives from friends like the Mesniaeffs gives us a chance to improve our programs and outreach. Stay tuned for additional information about SPNEA's Stewardship Program and outreach to private owners of historic properties in communities across New England.

-Shantia Anderheggen
Director of Stewardship

Living with the Past, Planning for the Future