Written by Alissa Anderson
“Why, what’s that?” visitors to last weekend’s 2009 John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo asked themselves as they gazed toward the tall blue banners on the horizon, rounding the bend past Adidas and the VitaminShoppe. “Is it the new All-Natural Energy Candy I’ve been waiting for? Or perhaps a paraben-free backpack full of high-octane-electrolyte water that could keep astronauts hydrated for three weeks were they to land on Mars??”
Fortunately for these sharp-eyed visitors, the blue-bannered booth that awaited them was peddling something far more exciting: the chance to give away one million dollars in preservation funding! Yes, once again the Greater Boston Partners in Preservation (PiP) program was out among the public, spreading the word about the importance of preservation–this time in Boston’s Hynes Convention Center from April 17-19.
For a total of 23 hours during the Sports Expo’s three-day period, nine volunteers (three Northeast Office staff members and six intrepid others—including two who came from as far away as Walpole, MA) took turns staffing the Partners in Preservation booth, passing out PiP buckslips and helping Expo visitors vote for their favorite Greater Boston historic places on laptop computers. Though we initially felt a little out-of-place next to Timex Watches and across from Success Rice, the Expo quickly proved to be a great place to spread the word about PiP to those who might not hear about it otherwise.
In addition to the lean Boston Marathon runners and their families, many of whom were from other places in the U.S. and around the world, we also spoke to quite a few Greater Boston community members who hadn’t yet heard about the program. It was particularly fun when passers-by recognized one or more of the 25 PiP sites on our large poster and stopped to talk about their own memories of those places. One woman’s parents had been married in St. Peter’s Church and were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year; another woman, surprised to see St. Joseph’s High School in Lowell on the list, told us that she had been a member of the school’s last kindergarten class. Many people had ridden the Paragon Carousel at Nantasket Beach or had visited the New England Aquarium.
“The Aquarium is historic?” some asked us incredulously. “Why yes,” we told them, eager to explain the inclusion of Modernist architecture in preservation. “It set the standard for modern aquarium design. And it is 40 years old this year.” The clever response to this last comment we often received: “Well, if 40 is historic, what does that make me?” Clearly, a perfect candidate to vote online for your favorite Greater Boston historic places! we said with a smile, pressing another PiP buckslip into their hands.
To vote for your own favorite places, and to share your own stories about them, visit www.PartnersinPreservation.com today! It’s free, easy, and we guarantee the only side-effect is the joy and satisfaction that comes from preserving the historic places that matter most to you…
Alissa Anderson is intern at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast Office in Boston.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.