By Jane Keller Gordon, Assistant Editor
Region – For more than a century, Historic New England — founded in 1910 as the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities— has preserved stone walls, thousands of artifacts, and beautiful properties located in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. During COVID-19, the organization has altered its protocols to provide socially distant access to a limited number of its 37 properties and 1,284 acres. In addition, its website has become a virtual online historical mecca for its 9,000 plus members and other visitors.
Vin Cipolla, the organization’s new president and CEO, said, “This past year was a testament to the New England spirit of innovation and adaptability, and to our shared commitment to celebrating what makes this region special. We are connecting with our audiences in different ways, and their passion for preservation, conservation, and storytelling has been shining through.”
Jennifer Kent, vice president for advancement at Historic New England added, “… We found a tremendous ability to adapt. Our audiences are engaging in online conversations with authors and historians about immigration, racial injustice, the fight for women’s suffrage, and LGBTQ history. They are heading outside to experience historic landscapes, wearing masks and joining socially distanced tours. They are contributing photos and stories to ‘A Time to Remember,’ our project that documents life in New England during the COVID-19 pandemic and our national reckoning on race.”
Here are some highlights from Historic New England’s website:
VISIT ∙ HOMES, FARMS & LANDSCAPES
Historic New England continues to welcome pre-registered visitors to three of its 22 historic sites properties in Massachusetts that are open year-round: the Eustis Estate in Milton, Gropius House in Lincoln, and the Lyman Estate Greenhouses in Waltham. Most of the open spaces and landscapes in Massachusetts remain open to the public from dawn to dusk, including the Codman Estate in Lincoln, Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury, and Cogswell’s Grant in Essex. The website provides information and photos on these properties.
EXPLORE ∙ COLLECTIONS
The Collections database features architecture, art, books and periodicals, clothing and accessories, decorative arts, furniture, jewelry, ephemera, photography, textiles, manuscripts, and wallpaper.
EXPLORE ∙ EVERYONE’S HISTORY
According to Kent, “This award-winning series of documentary films, exhibitions, books, and public programs developed over the past ten years tells diverse stories of life in New England from the twentieth century and beyond.”
Topics including the Haymarket in downtown Boston and clamming in Essex, have been developed in partnership with these and many other communities.
SCHOOL & YOUTH
During COVID-19, Historic New England has shifted much of its extensive programming for students and youth from in-person to online.
PRESERVATION ∙ FOR HOMEOWNERS AND COMMUNITIES
For sustaining memberships and higher, Historic New England provides online personalized support to homeowners of historic properties. Through its Preservation Easement Program, the organization works with 100+ homeowners and communities to protect buildings and landscapes. This program, the oldest of its type in the country, is a national model for the preservation of privately owned homes.. The site defines preservation easement as, “… a legal agreement used to protect significant building and landscape features of a historic property… Easement prohibits demolition of historic resources and can prevent lot subdivision.”
GET INVOLVED ∙ MEMBERSHIPS
Historic New England members receive the Historic New England magazine three times a year, free admission to many historic properties, and discounted tickets to events. General memberships are fully tax-deductible and start at $50 for individuals and $65 for households. Premium membership levels provide access to additional benefits, including online advice to homeowners, private tours, and invitations for members-only events.
Visit the website to confirm dates and times of activities. State regulations with regard to COVID-19 may impact opening in Massachusetts.
Visit www.historicnewengland.org/ for more information.
Photos/Historic New England