Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2014 Preservation Award Winners
Photo of Wesley Ward

Wesley Ward

Individual Lifetime Achievement

Wesley Ward has shaped Massachusetts’ conservation and landscape preservation movement for more than three decades. He has served as the Director of Land Conservation and Vice President for Land and Community Conservation for most of his 32 years with The Trustees of Reservations. Founded by Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR), the first private nonprofit conservation organization in America, has built a remarkable network of protected lands. Its properties include National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark, significant archaeological sites, and some of the state’s most treasured scenic vistas and cultural landscapes. In an organization with a history of visionary leaders, Wesley Ward stands out from the crowd. Since joining the Trustees, he has been involved in the conservation of more than 30,000 acres of land. With his team, he has successfully brokered numerous difficult land agreements to preserve natural and cultural resources. Mr. Ward also co-founded and chaired the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition, and was a founding commissioner for the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration, with an emphasis on environmental policy and management, from Harvard University, a Master of Landscape Architecture degree in Landscape Planning from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and a bachelor’s degree in American History and Literature from Marlboro College in Vermont. Mr. Ward’s bold, creative approaches to land preservation and partnerships, melding organizational affiliations and complex public-private partnerships, have provided models for land protection that guide land trusts and preservation organizations across the Commonwealth and beyond.

Mr. Ward applied his creative and passionate approach in 1985 to Powisset Farm in Dover, protected today under an agricultural preservation restriction. The Trustees operate a popular Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at Powisset and use its historic buildings for their programs. Moraine Farm in Beverly, significant for its association with prominent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, is another of Mr. Ward’s conservation success stories. This important designed landscape is now preserved, and is jointly owned by two families, a private school, and an adventure camp. It also supports a CSA program. In 2008 and 2009, Mr. Ward helped negotiate a long-term lease with the town of Westport to restore the buildings at the Stephen Willcock House-Westport Town Farm. This project continues the property’s agricultural tradition, provides educational programs for the public, and maintains the buildings on the land. Today, the Trustees Youth Conservation Corps program runs a community garden on the grounds. Throughout his entire tenure at TTOR, Mr. Ward has worked on the acquisition and protection of the Governor Oliver Ames Estate in Easton. This year, the Estate will open to the public for the first time—a fitting conclusion to Mr. Ward’s career as he prepares to retire. For Mr. Ward, preservation has always gone hand-in-hand with keeping properties active, alive, and relevant to contemporary society. Using all the preservation tools at his disposal—including stewardship, public engagement, and partnerships that unite public and private entities—Mr. Ward has proven himself to be one of the most effective leaders in the history of The Trustees of Reservations, as well as a valuable proponent for the state’s many historic resources. The Massachusetts Historical Commission is pleased to recognize Wesley Ward with an Individual Lifetime Achievement Award for his innovative and dedicated work in preservation across the state.

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