Essex Heritage Announces 2021 Partnership Grant Recipients

Essex Heritage Announces 2021 Partnership Grant Recipients


April 27, 2021 – The Essex National Heritage Commission (Essex Heritage), in keeping with its long tradition of supporting the region’s unique cultural heritage, announced the 2021 Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program recipients at the Commission’s spring Meeting on April 22. 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. This year, Essex Heritage added “Access and Inclusion” as a fourth category, to assist in keeping our unique and amazing resources accessible to all.


“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 23-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.”


2021 Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Recipients:



Amesbury Carriage Museum- The Amesbury Carriage Museum will develop a framework for an ongoing series of walking tours designed to connect our audience to the nearby built environment.  Grant funds will cover consultant fees needed to create a new walking tour and establish a template to guide the development of additional tours.

Amesbury Improvement Association - Amesbury Improvement Association will create interpretive signage mounted on an attractive kiosk addressing historical, cultural, and natural history context for Deer Island, a city-owned park in the Merrimack River. The project will add attractive split rail fencing to the parking lot perimeter and an entry sign from the Chain Bridge into the park.




Gloucester Stage Company - Gloucester Stage Company is planning to build and install a permanent ADA-compliant ramp at the Windhover Center for the Performing Arts. The ramp will provide safe access to the outdoor stage area for patrons of all abilities, expecting to serve over 12,000 visitors in 2021 alone. The ramp will follow ADA accessibility required slope rise and run to safely welcome patrons in wheelchairs or with walking assistance devices. The structure will be built of wood to support the surrounding environment and the historical nature of the property. As a special nod to founder Ina Hahn, the existing railing spindles for the now deteriorated steps will spell out Ina’s name. This original railing is still intact and will be preserved in the building of the new ramp.




Friends of Veasey Park - Friends of Veasey Park will carry out the Native Plant and Tree Project in an effort to promote sustainability and conservation while also creating a more usable, educational, and accessible public green space for the community. Veasey Memorial Park is a self-sustaining town park with a historical building and 48 acres of conservation land which serves over 6,000 people a year for both private and public programs and events, as well as several thousand more for passive outdoor recreation such as hiking and kayaking.




Beyond Walls Inc. - In partnership with Lynn Public Schools, Beyond Walls’ “Taking the Classroom to the Streets” project will use culturally relevant public art as the foundation for cross-curricular learning and increased student engagement. Using large-scale works of public art in downtown Lynn as the foundation for an innovative, cross-curricular educational experience designed to engage students more deeply, this project provides youth and families with opportunities to connect art with history, identity, culture, and community as well as deepen civic engagement. 


North Shore Community Development Coalition - NSCDC’s YouthBuild program will complete accessibility improvements for Lynn Museum/Lynn Arts including a wheelchair ramp and benches. NSCDC will connect this to a current accessibility curriculum that they are teaching YouthBuild students this Spring as well as to the community service model that is embedded in YouthBuild. As the majority of YouthBuild students are from Lynn, this will also be a point of pride for participants to ‘give back’ to their community. Lynn Museum/LynnArts has a makeshift ramp currently, which needs to be replaced. To accompany the ramp, the students will also build two benches to make the area more welcoming.




Marblehead Museum - The Marblehead Museum will carry out the production and installation of a series of publicly accessible interpretive panels throughout Marblehead that detail the stories and contributions of Black, Indigenous and People of Color through history. During this multi-year project, the Museum will produce at least 8 signs. These 24” x 18” interpretive panels will consist of text and images and will feature consistent graphic design to encourage connections among the signs. A map of their locations and further information about each topic will also be included on the Museum’s website. Applicable signs will also feature QR codes that link to an upcoming audio tour of Black History in Marblehead, written and produced by the Marblehead Racial Justice Team. These signs will be displayed in public areas, with the permission of the town, so as to be always fully accessible to residents and visitors.




Methuen Historical Society, Inc. - Methuen Historical Society’s Meeting House Hill Cemetery and Village Burying Ground Project includes the inventory, mapping, and restoration of these two cemeteries along with the documentation and presentation of this information to the Methuen community. Meeting House Hill Cemetery was the site of the first Methuen meeting house (built in 1728) and is the only surviving major element of the original town center location. The Village Burying Ground was founded in 1832 and was part of a significant shift in the town center from the Meeting House Hill area toward the industrial and commercial sites of the Spicket River Falls. Late in the 19th century, wealthy industrialist Edward Searles built the 8-foot granite wall on the sides facing his estate and Mrs. Edward F. Searles was buried in the old burying ground. Her mausoleum was designed by Searles architect Henry Vaughan. Both cemeteries were added to the National Register of Historic Sites in 1984.




Parker River Clean Water Association - PRCWA maintains an extensive five trail system. By putting in one to two beaver deceivers the wetlands will be environmentally balanced and yet protect the aquatic animals & birds and the overall habitat without flooding the bike trail, therefore avoiding damaging public roads and adjacent commercial establishments. By installing a relatively low-cost beaver deceiver, the beavers can build their dams, maintain a stable environment but the culverts will remain open and the water on the pond will be kept at a controllable level. Cyclists and Pedestrians will be able to enjoy the rich biodiversity so close to nature and bike trails, and Essex County taxpayers won't be funding remediation efforts that could actually damage the ecology. The alternative, according to recent studies, would likely cost as much as eight times the price of a deceiver to mitigate the damage to the municipal infrastructure and to local commercial, private & public properties.


North Andover Historical Society - To become fully inclusive, the society's Accessibility Committee is developing an Accessibility Plan for the Caroline Stevens Center. Their first priority is to add an elevator to the second floor, which currently can only be reached by stairs. The second floor includes the library, flexible meeting space, & administrative offices.




Salem Common Neighborhood Association - Samuel McIntire, Salem’s renowned woodcarver and self-taught architect, was commissioned in 1805 to design and construct four entrances to the Salem Common. The Washington Arch was built at the park’s main entrance and was designed to mimic the Triumphal Arches used in ancient Roman welcoming processions. The Arch featured ornate carvings including an oval portrait of Washington flanked by swags of drapery, the Massachusetts state emblem, and a golden eagle. In 1850, the arches were removed, and the original McIntire carvings given to the Essex Institute (now the Peabody Essex Museum) for safekeeping. In 2013, the City of Salem and the SCNA collaborated to start restoration of the deteriorated arch, during which the rotten and missing parts were replaced in, but the carved pieces were not replicated. Salem Common Neighborhood Association will use their grant to see that the elaborate McIntire carvings are rebuilt and attached to the Arch.


Salem Sound Coastwatch - Salem Sound Coastwatch will use their Partnership Grant for a project-based learning endeavor where students will serve as visionary project leaders, seeking community input to design and develop signage for an “outdoor classroom” that abuts a stream and revitalizes a dilapidated city playscape, creating a place where nature and education are accessible to the public. This outdoor watershed classroom will revitalize a playspace identified in the City’s 2015 Recreation Facility Needs Assessment and Open Space Master Plan. The project provides an opportunity to invest in two critical areas simultaneously - the education of local youth and the stewardship of our community’s environment - in a way that has a lasting impact and creates resources that would be utilized by the school and the community alike for years to come. Partnership Grant funds will be used to finalize the graphic design, purchase, and installation signage based on the students’ approved plan.



About the Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program

The Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program is a matching grant program created to foster and support the stewardship activities of municipalities and organizations that share Essex Heritage’s mission to preserve and enhance the historic, cultural, and natural resources of the Essex National Heritage Area (Essex County). Impacting many in the region, the 23-year-old program has invested more than $1.6 million in support of the region’s nationally significant heritage.

For questions, please email Charles Smith at