In the late 1970s, the MHC published a groundbreaking, statewide preservation plan: Cultural Resources in Massachusetts: A Model for Management. The plan advocated an interdisciplinary approach to the assessment and management of the Commonwealth's cultural resources that measured the significance of properties and sites in terms of the broad, anthropological patterns of historical development of the regions and communities of the state. The Model for Management called for a cultural landscape approach to preservation planning that considered representative and outstanding cultural resources as expressions of the successive patterns of social, cultural and economic activity that shaped and defined communities. To establish both local and regional contexts, the Commission undertook in the 1980s a statewide reconnaissance level survey.
Three products resulted from the statewide reconnaissance survey: 1) individual reports on each surveyed city and town; 2) a set of thematic map overlays for each town's USGS topographic base map; and 3) a summary regional report on each surveyed study unit.
Although preservation planning concerns have evolved, and the levels of preservation planning activity have advanced considerably across the state, researchers and planners still find the thematic contexts developed in these regional and town reports useful frameworks. Long out of print, the completed regional reports for five regions and the town reports for seven regions are now available in electronic format.
These reports are two decades or more old. The information they contain dates to the time they were written. No attempt has been made to update this information.
Regional reports for the Boston Area (1982), Southeast Massachusetts (1982), Connecticut Valley (1984), Central Massachusetts (1985), and Cape Cod and the Islands (1987) are available for download. Regional reports for Eastern Massachusetts and Essex were never completed, and the survey was not initiated for the Berkshire study unit.
Town Reports are available for 319 of the Commonwealth's cities and towns.