Historic New England Book Prize

Honoring the best in history and material culture

Historic New England’s Book Prize is awarded to a monograph or exhibition catalogue that advances the understanding of the architecture, landscape, and material culture of New England and the United States from the seventeenth century to the present. This also includes works in the decorative arts, archaeology, historic preservation, and the history of photography.

To qualify, works need not deal exclusively with New England but must make a significant contribution to the understanding of New England and its relation to the wider world. Two honor books are also named each year. The prizes of $1,000 for the winner and $250 for the authors of the honor books and memberships in Historic New England will be awarded at an annual event.


2016 Winner and Honor Books

Historic New England awarded the twenty-second annual Book Prize to Suspended Worlds: Historic Theater Scenery in Northern New England by Christine Hadsel at Newton Town Hall in Newton, Hampshire.

Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston by Mark Pasnik, Michael Kubo, and Chris Grimley and Rich and Tasty: Vermont Furniture to 1850 by Jean M. Burks and Philip Zea, are this year’s Honor Books.

Suspended Worlds is a celebration of the many historic theater curtains in northern New England and their part in community activities and entertainment. The curtains were painted between 1890 and 1940 and range from opera house grand drapes depicting faraway lands, country landscapes, and city streets to Grange Hall curtains full of local advertisements.

Heroic is an in-depth exploration of the concrete buildings that transformed Boston during 1960s and 1970s. During this period of enormous growth, Boston served as an urban laboratory with some of that era’s most influential designers and architects studying concrete’s structural and sculptural qualities including Walter Gropius’s TAC; Marcel Breuer; I.M. Pei and Partners; F.A. Stahl & Associates; Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles; and Paul Rudolph.

Rich and Tasty presents new scholarship that advances the understanding of Vermont high style furniture—from its features, craftsmanship, and economics to its unexpected aesthetic innovations. Furniture makers produced items that were similar to furniture available in New York and Boston, but incorporated a variety of local material and details.


cape_cod_modernPast Book Prize Winners

Winners and Honor Books since 1995

2015 Winner: Cape Cod Modern: Midcentury Architecture and Community on the Outer Cape by Peter McMahon and Christine Cipriani

2014 Winners: Curiosities of the Craft: Treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection by Aimee E. Newell, Hilary Anderson Stelling, and Catherine Compton Swanson; “With Éclat”: The Boston Athenaeum and the Origin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston by Hina Hirayama

2013 Winner: Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum by Stuart M. Frank

2012 Winner: Litchfield: The Making of a New England Town by Rachel Carley

2011 Winner: The History of Shelburne Farms: A Changing Landscape, An Evolving Vision by Erica Huyler Donnis

2010 Winner: Harbor and Home: Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1710-1850 by Brock Jobe, Gary R. Sullivan, and Jack O’Brien

2009 Winner: Henry Austin: In Every Variety of Architectural Style by James F. O’Gorman

2008 Winner: Samuel McIntire: Carving an American Style by Dean T. Lahikainen

2007 Winner: Two Carpenters: Architecture and Building in Early New England by J. Ritchie Garrison

2006 Winner: Young America: The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes edited by Grant B. Romer and Brian Wallis

2005 Winner: American Fancy: Exuberance in the Arts, 1790-1840 by Sumpter Priddy

2004 Winner: The Furniture Masterworks of John and Thomas Seymour by Robert D. Mussey, Jr.

2003 Winner: The Allen Sisters: Pictorial Photographers, 1885-1920 by Suzanne L. Flynt

2002 Winner: A Building History of Northern New England by James L. Garvin

2001 Winner: Hands on the Land: A History of the Vermont Landscape by Jan Albers

2000 Winner: Reclaiming the Commons: Community Farms and Forests in a New England Town by Brian Donahue

1999 Winner: Boston’s Changeful Times: Origins of Preservation and Planning in America by Michael Holleran

1998 Winner: Living Architecture: A Biography of H. H. Richardson by James F. O’Gorman

1997 Winner: Colt: The Making of an American Legend by William N. Hosley

1996 Winner: Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900 by Joan L. Severa

1995 Winner:How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built by Stewart Brand

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