Category: Historic Preservation

A Spooner House Fundraiser: Spiritual Readings and Tarot Cards – Fridays May 3, June 7, Aug 2, Sept 6, Oct 4

We have partnered with three Spiritual Organizations – Go Beyond the Gates, Kindred Spirits and Silver Moon Tarot – to offer tarot card readings at the Spooner House Museum (27 North Street) on select Fridays in 2024. Proceeds will benefit the preservation of our historic Spooner House Museum. Join us, in the spirit of fun, to gain insight into the past, present or future and to support PAS.

Readings will be offered at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm and each hour is limited to 6 people. After you choose and purchase your hour, you will be notified of the exact time of your individual 10 minute reading. You are invited to a mini-tour of the Spooner House and to explore the backyard garden before or after your reading. Please be aware that this event requires climbing stairs. 

  • Friday, May 3 – 5 pm, 6 pm, 7 pm
  • Friday, June 7 – 5 pm, 6 pm, 7 pm
  • Friday, August 2 – 5 pm, 6 pm, 7pm
  • Friday, September 6 – 5 pm, 6 pm, 7pm
  • Friday, October 4 – 5pm, 6pm, 7pm

Tickets are $55 per person ($5 discount for PAS members with code). Space is limited and tickets must be purchased in advance. No refunds. To purchase tickets online, click here.

Please note that members may purchase an unlimited number of tickets. However, the member discount will only apply to 1 ticket if you have an individual membership; 4 tickets if you have a family membership; and 10 tickets if you have a life membership. Contact info@plymouthantiquarian.org for the membership discount code.

To learn more about joining the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, click here.

If you would prefer to purchase tickets via the phone, please call the office at 508-746-0012. If you have any questions please email info@plymouthantiquarian.org.

Thank you for your support!

Hedge House Frontage Project Underway

After years of preparation and fundraising, we are pleased to announce that the landscape improvements to the 1809 Hedge House are moving forward. A general contractor was selected for the project before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted life in Massachusetts. Since construction is regarded as an essential business, work can move ahead even as all of the Society’s in-person activities are suspended. We hope that the successful completion of this project will lift our spirits during this uncertain time as we anticipate future gatherings in years to come.

This project is generously supported by our members and community partners – thank you!

Historical Background 

Today the 1809 Hedge House Museum sits above a rolling lawn overlooking the Plymouth waterfront. However, during its long history as a residence, the house was located at 83 Court Street and faced west towards the town’s main thoroughfare. The Federal mansion was rescued from demolition by the Antiquarian Society in 1919, and moved a short distance from its original site to a nearby lot that had once been part of Plymouth’s old waterfront district.

The Society acquired an adjoining lot in 1927 from the American Woolen Company, the last of several industrial companies that used the large building (ca. 1880) on the lot as a storehouse. The Society razed this building and leveled the land to create a clear view to the harbor. To provide a better setting for the historic house, the Society undertook a series of landscape improvements at the new 126 Water Street location in the 1920s. Society members created a boxwood-bordered garden area in front and planted trees bordering both sides of the lawn. Eventually they turned their attention to enclosing the property. In its heyday as a home at 83 Court Street, the Hedge House enjoyed only a modest frontage, bordered by a simple white picket fence. The new yard on Water Street needed a more impressive style of enclosure. The Society opted to duplicate the white painted wooden fence and gate from the King Caesar House in neighboring Duxbury. Deliberations about the fence began in September of 1929; it was completed by 1932.

The painted wooden fence, within a stone’s throw of the harbor, required a level of maintenance that the Society was often unable to provide in ensuing years. By the 1960s, sections had rotted and been haphazardly replaced, the original design had become a patchwork, and the need for reconstruction was critical. The Society struggled during years of economic recession, but in 1975 finally managed to install a white painted tubular steel fence, with rebuilt wooden columns. The new design had no historical basis. This 45-year-old metal fencing remains in place today. The metal is in a state of advanced fatigue, the reconstructed wooden columns are in disrepair, and the entire array must be replaced. Furthermore, the removal of the boxwood-bordered garden area, the loss of some of the perimeter trees, and the installation of gas and water lines over the years have disrupted the front lawn, leading to dangerous sections of uneven ground and an austere appearance that distracts from the Federal elegance of the historic house.

Following restorations of the historic building’s interior and exterior between 2002 and 2007, the Society began planning for a major re-landscaping plan for the front lawn of the Hedge House. In determining what type of fencing or enclosure would be appropriate for the frontage of the 126 Water Street property, the Society turned to the work of Plymouth architect Joseph Everett Chandler, born in town in 1863. Chandler, a descendant of William Harlow, had assisted the Antiquarians with the restoration of his ancestor’s 17th-century home, which the Society acquired in 1920. He also consulted on the landscaping for the relocated Hedge House. In the 1920s Chandler prepared several designs for a Colonial Revival garden for the Hedge site that were partially, though never fully, executed. Preserved in the Society’s archives, the long dormant plans formed the basis for the recreation of the Rose T. Briggs Memorial Garden in 2013. Chandler had also sketched some ideas for the front yard of the museum site, but apparently never developed a frontage design before his death in 1945. Fortunately, several historical examples of Chandler’s landscape designs still exist in Plymouth. Among the most striking are the brick gates and walls of the Fay family’s 1889 estate, “Bayswater,” on Sandwich Street, and the Flemish bond brick walls and iron fencing that border the Willoughby House on Winslow Street, today known as the Mayflower Society House. These surviving features are the historical inspiration for a new Colonial Revival style frontage plan for the Hedge House Museum. They have been scaled down to better suit the size and style of the Hedge House.

Project Scope & Design

  • Water Street and Memorial Drive Perimeters: The new fence will duplicate the scale and location of the existing fence. It will include brick piers and black galvanized steel pickets. The brick will be laid in the Flemish bond pattern used in existing examples of Colonial Revival fences in Plymouth, dating from the turn of the twentieth century. This design will complement existing brick pathways. The brick piers will house electric outlets, which will permit the Society to add temporary lighting during events, improving the safety of the property when used by the public.
  • Southern Boundary: The existing cedar fence will be continued parallel to the property line to hide the rear parking lot of the neighboring restaurant. A new bed of native trees and bushes will be planted in front of the fence, restoring the garden border that framed the lawn in the 1930s.
  • Existing Features: In the late 1920s the Society installed walkways to lead to the Water Street entrance and the boxwood-bordered garden on what is now the front lawn. The granite steps have settled; to improve the site’s safety they will be reset and handrails will be added to match existing handrails elsewhere on the property. The bricks in the walkways have been replaced and re-laid over the years; as needed, small areas with bricks that are cracked or heaved will be reset or replaced to eliminate tripping hazards. The paths themselves will maintain their original orientation and dimensions. The four majestic linden trees planted approximately 75 years ago on the Memorial Drive side of the property will be protected throughout the project.
  • Grading and Irrigation: The prominent location of the Hedge House requires regular lawn maintenance to provide the best setting for this historic home. The grass dies every summer, creating an embarrassing blemish on Plymouth’s waterfront. The grading of uneven areas and installation of an irrigation system will help ensure the future maintenance of the property, increase the site’s functionality during high-traffic events, and eliminate the hazard of unexpected hollows and holes to visitors.

Our goal is to beautify the property in such a way that it will remain welcoming to the public, while also providing a secure perimeter on Plymouth’s busy waterfront. The addition of irrigation and electricity enhances the lawn’s functionality for community events, including the Society’s annual Summer Fair. We hope the improved frontage will strengthen the Hedge House’s position as one of the jewels in Plymouth’s historic landscape.

Anticipated Completion: June 2020

Design: Ray Dunetz Landscape Architects (using preliminary plans created by Bill Fornaciari Architects, Inc.)

General Contractor: Sheridan Landscaping (Plymouth, MA)

 

Preservation Grant Awarded for Spooner House Project

The Plymouth Antiquarian Society is delighted to announce that we are the recipients of a grant from the 1772 Foundation to support the preservation of the Spooner House. This grant will fund a project to repaint the North Street façade of this historic home, built ca. 1749. Since the house’s exterior restoration in 2011, the paint has become decayed and dirty, with chalking, discoloring, and significant mildew growth. Our goal is to clean and repaint the façade of the house in order to extend the life of its historic wood shakes and trim. By doing so we will also be restoring this home to its historic appearance.

About the Grant Program

Preservation Massachusetts, in partnership with The 1772 Foundation, has announced the final recipients of a new historic preservation grant program for Massachusetts. Preservation Massachusetts is the statewide non-profit historic preservation organization dedicated to preserving the Commonwealth’s historic and cultural heritage and The 1772 Foundation, based in Providence, RI, plays a leading role in promoting historic preservation nationwide. 

In their most recent grant round, the 1772 Foundation worked with the six New England statewide historic preservation organizations, including Preservation Massachusetts, to administer 1:1 matching grants of up to $10,000. Grants will be given to historic preservation projects for building exteriors. At their quarterly meeting, the trustees of The 1772 Foundation awarded $100,000 in grants to 14 Massachusetts projects, based on recommendations from Preservation Massachusetts. A total of $600,000 was awarded to seventy-nine grants from all six New England statewide organizations. 

Grant recipients in Massachusetts were Historic Deerfield, Inc. (The Creelman House $10,000), Alden Kindred of America, Inc. (Alden House Historic Site $2,600), Great Barrington Historical Society (The Truman Wheeler House $7,500), Historic New England (The Walter Gropius House $10,000), The Royall House Association (The Royall House and Slave Quarters $5,000), The Maria Mitchell Association (The Maria Mitchell House $8,250), Waterfront Historic Area League (First Bap st Church $10,000), Historic Newton (Durant-Kenrick House $10,000), Sons and Daughters of Hawley (East Hawley Meeting House $10,000), Plymouth Antiquarian Society (The Spooner House Museum $3,358), Essex National Heritage Commission (Assistant Light Keeper’s House on Baker’s Island $5,000), Old Colony History Museum (Bristol Academy $10,000), Chase Library Association, Inc. (The Chase Library $4,812) and Canton Historical Society (David & Abigail Tilden House $3,480). 

President and CEO of Preservation Massachusetts Jim Igoe states, “This new funding opportunity brought to Massachusetts by the 1772 Foundation was a great opportunity for stewards of historic buildings all across the Commonwealth. The reception to this grant was overwhelming with over $700,000 in funding being requested through our first round of inquiry letters. It clearly demonstrates the great need for funds to ensure these historic structures remain intact and in use for years to come. The organizations we have awarded grants to are remarkable stewards of these shared community assets and we are pleased to see their projects come to fruition. We are also extremely grateful to The 1772 Foundation for this collaborative opportunity which has enriched our organization and staff with deeper knowledge and connections with organizations and communities from the Cape to Berkshires. We look forward to continuing to work with The 1772 Foundation and also find other opportunities to expand funding for historic preservation projects like these across Massachusetts.” 

1772 Foundation Board President B. Danforth Ely remarked, “Small matching grants for brick-and-mortar preservation projects have long played an important role in the 1772 Foundation’s grant making, as it was the passion of its founder, Stewart B. Kean. However, this is the first year that we have opened the program up to all six New England states, and the expansion has been enthusiastically received. We have been fortunate to work with six fantastic statewide organizations, whose local community knowledge has proven invaluable. The vast response to this grant has also shown to the Foundation how necessary these brick-and-mortar grants are to keeping our historic structures standing.” 

About Preservation Massachusetts: Preservation Massachusetts was established in 1985 as Historic Massachusetts, Inc. We are the statewide non-profit organization that actively promotes the preservation of historic buildings and landscapes as a positive force for economic development and the retention of community character. The organization is supported entirely by grants, fundraising events and the support of our membership. In keeping with our mission, we work in partnership with national, state and local organizations and individuals across the Commonwealth to advance and understanding, appreciation and utilization of our historic built and natural landscapes. More information about Preservation Massachusetts may be found online at www.preservationmass.org 

About the 1772 Foundation: The 1772 Foundation was named in honor of its first restoration project, Liberty Hall in Union, NJ, which was built in 1772 and is the ancestral home of the Livingston and Kean families. The late Stewart B. Kean was the sole benefactor to The 1772 Foundation. The 1772 Foundation works to ensure the safe passage of our historic buildings and farmland to future generations. More information about The 1772 Foundation may be found at www.1772foundation.org

CAP Grant Awarded

Plymouth Antiquarian Society to Participate in Collections Assessment for Preservation Program

The Plymouth Antiquarian Society announces that it is one of 79 institutions in the United States selected to participate in the Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) program.

CAP helps museums improve the care of their collections by providing support for a conservation assessment of the museum’s collections and buildings. The Society will work with a team of preservation professionals to identify preventive conservation priorities. The final assessment report will help the Society prioritize its collections care efforts in the coming years.

Executive Director Anne Mason shared that participating in this program is especially significant this year as the Society celebrates its 100th anniversary. “Since 1919 the Antiquarian Society has dedicated its efforts to preserving and sharing local history. We have a large and important collection of artifacts and archival materials in our three historic houses. As we start our second century we are committed to giving them the best care and making them more accessible to the public.”

The CAP program is administered by the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation through a cooperative agreement with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal grant-making agency that supports museums and libraries.