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News New England and Beyond

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Holliston History Preserved
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The c.1824 Jonas Curtis House in Holliston, Massachusetts, is the newest historic property to enter the SPNEA Stewardship Program. Last year the house's owner approached SPNEA out of concern that someone in the future might make insensitive alterations to the building, destroying its historic character, or subdividing the surrounding land. Over the course of the succeeding months, SPNEA's Stewardship staff worked with the owner, identifying historic features and developing restrictions to protect them. Henceforth, preservation restrictions administered by SPNEA in perpetuity will protect the exterior of the house, the landscape, interior finishes including wall, door, and window locations, plaster, woodwork, floorboards and structural framing members, and a small mid-nineteenth-century barn. As SPNEA Team Leader, Historic Preservation Shantia Anderheggen remarks, "in addition to protecting the actual buildings and landscape, this also ensures that a piece of Holliston's rural past will be preserved."

Just Around The Corner
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The 1811 Alexander House, one of the oldest surviving houses in Springfield, Massachusetts, was moved this August for the second time in its history.

To accommodate the U.S. General Services Administration's (GSA) plan to build a new Federal Courthouse on the Alexander House's existing lot, SPNEA purchased a parcel of land in the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District on which GSA could relocate the house. The Alexander House has a strong architectural and social history. Its design, with a dramatic vaulted ceiling and Federal-style spiral staircase, is attributed to Asher Benjamin. The house was built by Simon Sanborn, who established himself as one of Springfield's most prominent builders during the first half of the nineteenth century. The building was moved for the first time in 1874, when its owner, former Springfield mayor Henry Alexander, Jr., moved it two hundred feet from its original site. SPNEA has owned the house since 1939.

Now that the Alexander House is on its new foundation, SPNEA will sell it with perpetual preservation restrictions to protect its significant interior and exterior architectural features. For more information, contact the Stewardship Department at (781) 891-4882, ext. 228 or lcondon@historicnewengland.org.

Pierce House Transformed
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SPNEA recently completed the first phase of extensive restoration work at one of Boston's oldest houses: the 1683 Pierce House in Dorchester. Last year, deteriorating cement-asbestos shingles that had covered the exterior since 1938 were removed, exposing replacement clapboards dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After historic paint analysis, the house was painted to reflect its 1930s color scheme. The newly outfitted interior has three main spaces: a late eighteenth-century room that illustrates the life of Colonel Samuel Pierce, farmer and Revolutionary War officer; a work-shop space for hands-on activities and crafts; and a small exhibition space in the parlor. In June, SPNEA invited neighbors, friends, and local school children to celebrate the completion of the refurbishing. SPNEA staff continue to work with local community groups to plan innovative school programs and develop a community history program for the general public.

Fenced In
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SPNEA's Property Care Department has restored and reconstructed two sections of wooden fencing at the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts. A section at the top of Little's Lane was repaired as was another stretch behind the house, separating the farm yard from the back pasture, where the Littles grew hay to feed their dairy cattle and draft horses.

The fence styles were based on existing sections and on historic photographs in SPNEA's Library and Archives. All replacement material for the fence rails, caps, and moldings was custom-milled to match original material. The white oak posts, weighing up to 350 pounds each, were carefully set in place by SPNEA's carpenters Bruce Blanchard, Josh Wright, and Steve O'Shaughnessy, using a specially rigged forklift. Below ground, the posts were set in PVC sleeves to provide an extra layer of protection for these important landscape elements, which help define the farm's character.

Sports Temples of Boston
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This rare postcard of the 1912 Boston Red Sox team is one of fifty images from SPNEA's Library and Archives included in an online exhibition, Sports Temples of Boston: Images of Historic Ballparks, Arenas, and Stadiums in Boston. Organized by the Boston Public Library, the virtual exhibition, which includes more than 1,500 images, highlights Boston's great sporting tradition and allows online visitors to trace the history of the city's most famous and unforgettable sports venues. Researchers, sports fans, and history buffs can view Sports Temples at www.bpl.org/sportstemples.

-Compiled by Susanna Crampton,
Public Relations Officer

News New England and Beyond