In celebration of its 100th anniversary and in recognition of its commitments to historic preservation and public education
Founded in 1910 by William Sumner Appleton, Historic New England (previously called the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities) is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the country. In 2010, Historic New England is celebrating its centennial with events throughout the year, including a centennial gala, an expanded website, new exhibits, the 100 Years – 100 Communities partnership initiative, and an open house of all Historic New England properties.
Historic New England maintains 36 historic house museums, study properties, and landscapes, 20 of them in Massachusetts, including the Harrison Gray Otis House in Boston, the Lyman Estate in Waltham, the Gropius House in Lincoln, and Beauport in Gloucester. Many of these offer educational programs for children, both at the museum sites and as school presentations. Historic New England also supports and encourages the preservation of privately owned properties through its Historic Homeowner Membership Program and its Stewardship Program, through which it holds over 70 protective preservation easements.
The nonprofit organization maintains extensive collections of artwork, artifacts, and archives documenting New England architectural and cultural history. Particularly notable is a collection of more than 20,000 architectural drawings and specifications, builders’ guides, pattern books, manuals, catalogues and other ephemera. Historic New England recently mounted a travelling exhibition called “Drawing Toward Home: Designs for Domestic Architecture,” which has shown in Boston and Washington, DC.
For the past 100 years, Historic New England has been a stalwart advocate for preserving and promoting awareness of Massachusetts history and historic structures. Its current initiatives to enable internet access to its vast holdings, and to promote historically sensitive approaches to sustainability, point to the ways that it will continue to do so for the next 100 years. Its careful stewardship, outstanding public outreach, and extraordinary collections all speak to the organization’s commitment to the highest standards of historic preservation. The Massachusetts Historical Commission is pleased to honor Historic New England with this special recognition in its centennial year.