Essex Heritage announced the 2019 Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program recipients at the Commission’s spring meeting in Ipswich on April 4.

Over the next year, the 12 grant recipients will be working to implement a diverse range of educational, interpretive, and preservation projects throughout Boston’s North Shore and the Merrimack Valley.

“We recognize the importance of supporting local organizations and we are proud that we are able to award twelve partnership grants again this year” said Annie Harris, Essex Heritage CEO, “Over the 21-year life of the program we have provided grants to every community in Essex County – and we know that this seed money greatly impacts the region by leveraging more investments in the Essex National Heritage Area.

2019 Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Recipients:


Danvers Historical Society Glen Magna

Danvers Historical Society will utilize their grant funding to restore the Palladian windows of the Derby Summer House, also known as the Derby Tea House. A National Historic Landmark, the Derby Summer house was designed by Samuel McIntire in 1793 for Elias Haskett Derby, and constructed by McIntire in 1794. The project will restore 4 functioning sashes on the second floor, an intricate process of complete restoration, to include rot repair, tighten joints, replace broken panes, re-glaze, repaint, polish hardware, and re-hang sashes. Experienced historic restoration contractors will undertake the work, improving visitor experience for the 6,000 visitors Glen Magna serves each year.

Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School

Students from the Natural Resource Management program at Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School will improve stream health by installing water pump windmills to create alternate cattle drinking sources. The school’s cattle are currently entering the stream to drink and are polluting the stream with e-coli. The stream health has been compromised by erosion due to cattle. The students will install a water pump windmill along the campus stream at the location most frequently used by the cattle, which will pump water into trough systems the students will construct to provide cattle on campus with clean water drinking sources. Wetland plants will be planted to help restore the stream banks, reducing erosion and helping to improve stream health, which feeds into the Ipswich River Watershed and is a source of drinking water for fourteen communities and over 350,000 people on the North Shore.


Maritime Gloucester

Maritime Gloucester will use its grant to undertake an interpretive signage project, creating new signs and activities for their working waterfront, railway, pier, and aquarium. An estimated 25,000 people ventured through Maritime Gloucester’s outdoor campus last year. In order to better serve and engage these casual audiences, Maritime Gloucester is working to extend high-quality and interactive interpretation by redesigning, constructing, and installing new interpretive signage and interactive activities that tell more and better stories about the cultural and natural history of their campus, their community, and Gloucester Harbor.

Magnolia Historical Society

Magnolia Historical Society intends to use its Essex Heritage grant to digitize historical records, photos, and magazines for preservation and online access. Using the PastPerfect software program, Magnolia Historical Society will undertake the task of digitizing 10,000 records, photos, books, magazines and more which illustrate Magnolia’s rich history. Grant money will also be used for hardware purchases such as computers, monitors, and drivers, and will go to hiring an archival consultant to assist with the program.


Buttonwoods Museum

Buttonwoods Museum’s project will involve creating a new Audience-Centered Interpretive Plan to address inclusive regional history. Buttonwoods is the visitor center for Essex Heritage, and this project will develop a comprehensive interpretive plan that will provide context for regional history and will connect the River, buildings, grounds, programs, and exhibits based on experiences of daily life. Interpretive themes might include immigrant reactions and adaptation to the region, or simpler aspects of daily life like courting and dating. Oral histories, to be collected as part of an implementation plan, will add a human element to primary sources and objects.


Lawrence History Center

Lawrence History Center seeks to update its elevator system at the Essex Company Office and Yard, increasing access and enhancing the use of LHC archival resources for all residents and to serve those with mobility challenges. This project will help to bring the building, which serves as archives, visitor and education space, and collections closer to complete compliance with ADA standards in order to safely accommodate a growing number of visitors, volunteers and staff of all ages and abilities.


Highlands Coalition

The Highlands Coalition intends to create a civic space through the restoration of High Rock Park, Lynn, which was originally purchased by the Hutchinson Family, who built the Stone and Daisy cottages, an auditorium, and a tower. The family toured Europe with Frederick Douglass, and were supporters of abolition and women’s rights. The Highlands Coalition intends to do this by creating a garden at the Stone Cottage, which will be used by students and the Food Project, restoration of the cottage for use as ranger housing, hiring young people to attract children and families to the park, create interpretive signage focusing on the history of the park and the struggle against slavery, and renaming the observatory in honor of Lynn citizen, abolitionist, and first woman scientist in the United States Maria Mitchell.


Nahant Public Library Urgent Restoration

Nahant Public Library intends to carry out emergency repairs to the structure supporting the library building’s terrace. The iron beams supporting the terrace have completely corroded, pipes that were meant to divert water from the building’s downspouts to a dry well had disconnected, pouring water onto the dirt floor of the support structure, stone support walls bowing outward, evidence that the terrace is slowly caving in. Were it to collapse, it could pull part of the main building with it. The Nahant Public Library building, erected in 1895 in the Jacobethan Revival style, is a unique and iconic building in Nahant, and provides a historic and welcoming setting to provide a full range of library materials, services, and programs. Along with the town hall and post office buildings, the library belongs to a Civic Historic District filed with the National Register of Historic Places. These emergency repairs will allow the library to gather greater resources for a full restoration, and will greatly increase safety.


Custom House Maritime Museum

In keeping with its mission to protect, preserve, and interpret the maritime heritage of the lower Merrimack Valley region and how it relates to history, Custom House Maritime Museum is developing outreach program it an attempt to bring the rich educational and historic value of Newburyport’s maritime museum to youth, and in particular, those youth who are less likely to visit Custom House Maritime Museum because of financial or transportation barriers. Educators will be able to select from a number of lessons relating to maritime themes, including the shipwright, the colonial sailor and ropemaker, lighthouses and their keepers, Colonel John Glover, and the Middlesex Canal.


Rockport Historical Commission

Rockport Historical Commission will undertake a preservation planning study to stabilize and restore the Rockport freight house and crane by contracting with a qualified architectural firm to conduct an assessment of the current conditions, and providing the town with a preservation plan including recommendations for short-term stabilization and protection as well as measures to restore the historical integrity and attributes of these historic structures. Currently, the freight house, a wooden structure on piers adjacent to railroad tracks actively used by the MBTA commuter rail line, is in a highly dilapidated and is in need of immediate stabilization to prevent its loss. The freight crane, a heavy industrial metal structure footed in a concrete foundation, is surrounded by concrete traffic barriers and is in need of a more appropriate border and interpretation to highlight its historical significance.


Pickering Foundation

The Pickering Foundation will restore the historic garden and terrace located at the Pickering House, Salem’s oldest home. Pickering Foundation will enhance the visitor experience in the unique garden. Working with Florentine Masonry, known for their fine craftsmanship and attention to historic detail, the Pickering Foundation will replace the back terrace which is both aesthetically and structurally compromised, using Cape-Ann granite blocks, antiqued bricks, and dramatic semicircular granite stones.


Massachusetts Audubon Society

Massachusetts Audubon Society will use their Essex Heritage grant to create a boardwalk through the wetlands in order to enhance visitor and nature preschooler experiences in the 43-acre Endicott Wildlife Sanctuary in Wenham. This will enable visitors to experience the wetland without impacting it. In addition, it will be used as teaching platform during professional development sessions, and for the preschool, they will greatly expand the opportunities for the students to fully immerse in this exciting, multi-sensory aspect of nature the teeming wetland, thereby amplifying their experiential learning.