Written by Alissa Anderson
A hush fell over the crowd assembled in the chandelier-lit lobby of the Boston Park Plaza Hotel this morning at approximately 10:45 a.m., as National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe stepped to the speaker’s podium. Even the ding of arriving elevator cars and the clatter of wheeled suitcases across the marble floor quieted as hotel guests, too, joined the rest of the audience and paused to hear the impending announcement.
What were the words everyone was so eager to hear? The name of their favorite Greater Boston historic place included among the list of 2009 Partners in Preservation major grant winners!
For the past number of months, the program’s 25 selected sites have worked tirelessly, creatively, and successfully to rally public support of their organizations through the Partners in Preservation website online voting contest. As announced on May 18th, the Paragon Carousel in Hull won this public vote and was automatically guaranteed to receive their grant request of $100,000 from American Express. Nine-tenths of American Express’s $1 million commitment still remained to be granted, however, and with the help of an Advisory Committee comprised of 21 Greater Boston civic and preservation leaders, those final decisions were made last week. Which brings us to this morning and the hushed Park Plaza lobby...
After thanking previous speakers Richard Brown, Vice President of Philanthropy at American Express, and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Mr. Moe proudly announced the following grant winners (virtual drumroll please!):
- Paragon Carousel in Hull: $100,000 to restore the doors and windows of the Carousel Building
- Crane Estate in Ipswich: $50,000 to restore the walls and terraced staircase of the Estate’s Bowling Green
- Edgell Memorial Library in Framingham: $100,000 to restore the Library’s windows and install storm windows
- Eliot Congregational Church in Roxbury: $75,000 to repair the church’s roof, gutters, and dormers
- José Mateo Ballet Theatre in Cambridge: $100,000 to restore six of Sanctuary Theatre’s etched glass windows
- Lowell’s Boat Shop in Amesbury: $86,200 to repair the shop’s roof, windows and exterior, and to install a modern heating system
- Museum of African American History in Boston’s Beacon Hill: $100,000 to repair the Abiel Smith School’s foundation
- Old North Church in Boston’s North End: $18,000 to repair and strengthen the church’s steeple
- Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown: $60,000 to restore the natural pond on the school’s campus
- Salem Old Town Hall in Salem: $75,000 to reinforce the hall’s foundation and provide new interior finishes
- United First Parish Church in Quincy: $80,000 to restore the church’s bell tower and the Adams crypt
- Vilna Shul in Boston’s Beacon Hill: $90,800 to uncover, preserve and display a hidden mural within the sanctuary’s Women’s Gallery
Cheers erupted as each site was named, and the crowd’s applause continued as selected representatives from every winning site came forward to be congratulated. In addition, Richard Brown also announced that each of the 13 remaining PiP sites will receive a $5,000 award in recognition of their participation in the initiative and their commitment to preservation efforts.
To all 25 of the wonderful historic places that participated in this year’s program, thank you for all your hard work, and congratulations on your successes—present and future! And to all those who cast their votes in support of their favorite Greater Boston sites, thank you for helping save the places that matter most to you! We hope that now that you’ve experienced the preservation excitement, you’ll continue to support the work of the historic places in your communities. (Might I suggest the ever-popular rallying cry of “PiP, PiP, Hooray”?)
Alissa Anderson is an intern in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast Office in Boston.
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