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Where Are They Now? Revisiting Massachusetts' Most Endangered Historic Resources

There is no doubt about it. The threat of loss is a powerful motivator, especially in the preservation world. It can rally people together, coalesce ideas, spark action and create momentum. A recent proposal to demolish an H.H. Richardson House in Marion saw swift response from individuals and organizations across Massachusetts, the United States and even internationally. Threats of loss have been used as calls to action for many years, going as far back as the 19th century with the Mount Vernon Ladies Association and the quest to save Mount Vernon.

Since 1993, the Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources program has been a way for Preservation Massachusetts to help these calls to action gain traction, visibility, guidance and (hopefully), connections to resources that can aid in finding a positive outcome to the situation.

But what happens after the calls have been sounded? How do you organize, plan and move forward? Who does the work? What needs to be done?

In preservation, proponents often need to take a long view and know that it may take many years for a project to come to completion. While immediate gratification is always nice, we must remember that there are many steps on the preservation journey.

Below are updates on several historic resources listed in the past on the Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources List . Each resource is unique and although their goals may differ, they all have something to teach us (PM included!).

Progressing

2018: The Columns, Dennis

Shortly after the Most Endangered list came out, Circuit Rider Jeff Gonyeau and local representatives from the Dennis Historical Commission reached out to the property owner and engaged in several discussions and a site visit. Expressing a willingness to sell the property, PM connected the owner with a preservation consulting firm who has worked with developers on historic properties. In turn, the firm brought in a client who expressed interest in the property. In early October 1620 Capital LLC purchased The Columns. With a successful portfolio that includes the award-winning Plymouth Post Office, we are excited to see the plans that 1620 Capital has for this historic property. PM will continue to be a resource and advocate for the new owner and local supporters.

2018: The Pillars, Dennis

Just a half mile from the Columns, The Pillars, a private residence, began showing signs of improvement almost before the Endangered list was announced. The most notable change is that the missing front column has been repaired and put back into place. A great deal of exterior work was also undertaken and completed during the summer by the owner. The massive front lawn expanse and landscaping has also been upgraded. Many thanks again to the Dennis Historical Commission for their updates and advocacy on behalf of this important local property. And, thanks to the property owner whose time and effort on behalf of the Pillars has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

2014: First Parish Church, Plymouth

Since listed in 2014, the Congregation of First Parish Church has worked to find ways to raise funds to cover the cost of major structural repairs for this important site – the fifth “spiritual structure” on this location at the top of Leyden Street. In 2017, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) and the Congregation entered into a joint agreement. Ownership of the building was transferred to the GSMD who took over fundraising to restore and maintain the building, while the Congregation can still hold services in the building. Now the National Pilgrim Memorial Meetinghouse will serve both the First Parish Congregation and the educational mission of the GSMD. The building is now undergoing active restoration work, evidenced by the bright red scrim over scaffolding on the front tower and visible from the PM’s office windows. The GSMD generously offered a tour of the church and ongoing work at this past September’s Massachusetts Historic Preservation Conference.

For more information, visit the GSMD's website here