May is Preservation Month
Let’s make a difference in our communities

Apr 30, 2023

Historic preservation enhances our communities, adds value to our cities and towns, tells diverse stories about our region, and helps create better places to live and work. Here are a few examples of how we can come together and make a difference.

Supporting trades education

This month participants enrolled in the Student Conservation Association’s Massachusetts Historic Preservation Corps are getting a hands-on opportunity to hone skills while partnering with Historic New England to restore the rare bark pit greenhouse at the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Mass., one of the oldest surviving greenhouses in North America.

old bark pit greenhouse

The bark pit greenhouse is a long, low brick structure built into the side of a hill. It is the oldest structure in the Lyman Estate Greenhouses complex, which also includes an 1804 Grape House, 1820 Camellia House, 1930 Orchid House, and an 1840 Sales Greenhouse where you can purchase plants.

This restoration project is a multi-year project that includes masonry, wood repairs to frames and sash, and landscape preservation work. The Historic Preservation Corps students are learning about the history and science of lime mortars and receiving training in making lime mortar, preparing brick masonry for work, and applying the mortar to, or “pointing,” the historic brick masonry.

Lime mortars are soft and flexible which is perfect for old bricks like those at the bark pit greenhouse. We are matching the materials in the mortar based on the results of a mortar analysis that identified all the different components of the early mortar including size and color of the sand. Historic New England’s preservation carpentry crew is supporting the students’ masonry work and will be undertaking the repairs to the greenhouse window frames and window sash.

About our partner

The Student Conservation Association’s Massachusetts Historic Preservation Corps offers participants training and experience in several historic preservation and maintenance trades including carpentry, window restoration, masonry, landscaping, painting, and more.

Support for our work

We thank Preservation Massachusetts and The 1772 Foundation, who work in partnership to award grants to support historic preservation in Massachusetts.

Learn more about the growing rehabilitation industry

Listen to a conversation from the 2022 Historic New England Summit that explores and advocates for support of traditional trades and their importance both economically and in support of preservation in our communities. At the 2022 Historic New England Summit Nick Redding, president and CEO of Preservation Maryland, unveiled the results of a first-of-its-kind study by Preservation Maryland and Place Economics about historic rehabilitation and the construction industry.

Apply now for a Community Preservation Grant

Historic New England’s Community Preservation Grants program has supported more than seventy small to mid-sized heritage organizations across the region in their efforts to save and share the stories that tell the full history of their communities, and applications are now open for 2023 grants.

Woman in blue dress interviewing another woman for an oral history project for Rhode Island Latino Arts
Historic New England is proud to have supported an oral history program developed by Rhode Island Latino Arts

Past project support includes exhibitions, exterior building repairs, interior building conservation, oral history documentation, publications, research on new stories, collections care and access, and more.

From northern Maine to western Connecticut, Historic New England has partnered with organizations that are making a difference by saving and sharing their communities’ histories. Together, we are raising awareness of the power of preservation throughout New England.

The 2023 Community Preservation Grant application deadline is June 30. We encourage you to spread the word and apply for support for your local community preservation project.

Read the program guidelines and apply today.

Inspiration. Ideas. Solutions. Connections.

Join us November 2 and 3 in Providence, R.I., or via livestream for the Historic New England Summit 2023, two days of exciting conversations that explore how today’s challenges and opportunities are transforming the fields of historic preservation, architecture, urban planning, conservation, sustainability, arts and culture, museums studies, public history, education, and more.

Early bird pricing now available. Register today.
Stay informed. Sign up to receive Summit updates.

Why the Summit?

Hear a personal and compelling message from Historic New England Team Leader for Preservation Services Carissa Demore on how the Historic New England Summit brings together multiple disciplines to build community, provide inspiration, and work together on solutions to strengthen the livability and vitality of our communities.

Property care highlight: Saving an American Treasure

Summer Fun at Hamilton House, House and garden

This year we are completing the final phase of the Hamilton House Resiliency and Preservation Project, a three-year effort to restore and preserve the house’s exterior. Work at the property during 2023 includes window conservation and painting the exterior in the off-white color scheme that was used on the house in 1929 during the Emily Tyson and Elise Tyson Vaughn’s ownership.

Work completed in 2021 and 2022 includes masonry repair to the foundation and chimneys, replacement of the wood shingle roof and increasing the size of the gutters to handle extreme rainstorms. This important exterior project preserves architectural details and helps prevent water infiltration and damage to the interior finishes and the collections on display. It also ensures the preservation and resiliency of this National Historic Landmark in the face of climate change for decades to come. Historic New England is sharing information on these best practices for protecting other heritage buildings in the region. Read the results of our groundbreaking study on the shortfalls of and best practices for historic gutter systems.

About Hamilton House
This striking Georgian mansion and its landscape share a history that mirrors that of its Southern Maine region. For at least 13,000 years, the Wabanaki, specifically the Western Abenaki nation of the Wabanaki Federation, lived on and with the land in this area they called Quamphegan. After European colonists took ownership of the area, the site was purchased by merchant Jonathan Hamilton in the eighteenth century, farmed by the Goodwin family in the nineteenth century, and restored as the summer retreat of Emily Tyson and her stepdaughter Elise at the turn of the twentieth. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970, the house is one of the region’s quintessential Colonial Revival-style country estates.

With special thanks to our funders

Investing in climate action, investing in our future

The Hamilton House project is just one example of how we factor climate change into our preservation approach. The 1772 Foundation has awarded Historic New England a $200,000 grant to support organization-wide climate action planning. A significant investment in our sustainable future, this funding is being used to advance our understanding of our own carbon footprint and to address significant threats posed by the climate emergency. Joie Grandbois recently joined the staff as our first sustainability coordinator to lead the development of a climate action plan and work with staff and consultants to create a carbon neutrality plan for Casey Farm in Saunderstown, R.I., which will provide the framework for carbon neutrality planning at other Historic New England properties.

We are tracking energy use and reducing energy consumption, and assessing climate impacts across the organization. Our Climate Action Staff Advisory Group has representation from every team with the goal to make climate action an everyday part of our work.

The perfect gift for your preservation enthusiast

A Historic New England gift membership will inspire new experiences for a full year! Membership includes free admission to our thirty-eight historic sites and free or reduced-price tickets to virtual and in-person events throughout the year. Membership opens the door to great opportunities to make new discoveries about our region’s history.

You can celebrate Preservation Month and further your support of Historic New England’s preservation initiatives by upgrading your membership to the Sustainer level. Sustainer level members are eligible for our unique historic homeowner benefit that provides the opportunity to schedule a phone call with our preservation experts to talk one-on-one about your house.

More to explore during Preservation Month

Whether you are interested in a house museum, attending a program about an interesting collection, taking a walking tour to explore neighborhood history, learning about women in preservation, or relaxing in one of our beautiful landscapes, our calendar of events provides opportunities across the region. Come celebrate Preservation Month with Historic New England!

Media Contact: Susanna Crampton, [email protected]