Commissioner, Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR)
When you think of parks do you envision a wooded trail along a rocky precipice or a long boardwalk to a sandy beach? Well, you should also picture historic farms and farmhouses, stone mansions, a 250 year-old mill village and a Viking tower. Yes, there is history in our parks and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is committed to preserving Massachusetts heritage as part of its mission.
This month we celebrate DCR’s mission as part of national Preservation Month.
The more than 450,000 acres of DCR parkland are also home to a rich collection of cultural resources and historic sites. You may have seen some of the historic buildings built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s when you stayed in a cabin at Mohawk trail, dined at Bascom Lodge, or picnicked at a pavilion at Douglas State Forest. Or maybe you took a tour of the Ames Mansion at Borderland State Park or attended a maple sugaring program at Brookwood Farm at Blue Hills State Reservation. DCR understands that these buildings and landscapes add value to everyday life, offering visitors a glimpse into the past and the people who came before us. Preserving that legacy is one of our goals.
On top of the everyday stewardship carried out by our park personnel, DCR has undertaken special projects over the years to protect and enhance cultural resources. Since 1994 the Historic Curatorship Program has been preserving historic buildings through public/private partnership, with 60 properties rehabilitated for new use. At Maudslay State Park and Borderland State Park, DCR undertook the rehabilitation of historic gardens and landscapes which were integral to the former private estates. A multi-year project at the Ames Mansion included masonry repairs and roof work. This year DCR’s technical bulletin series for landscape preservation Terra Firma is receiving two awards – from the Boston Society for Landscape Architects and the Massachusetts Historical Commission. DCR is proud to be a preservation organization.
This month-long celebration of DCR’s unique historic sites includes special Opening Our Doors events that will give the public access to properties sometimes limited from view. Doors will be open at Curatorship properties in Newburyport, Carlisle and Foxborough, and at the Viking-inspired Norumbega Tower, a nineteenth century oddity in Weston. Take a stroll through the rhododendron stands and mill village at Moore State Park in Paxton on May 19th or get a behind-the-scenes look backstage at the Hatch Shell on May 24th. For a full program visit the DCR website http://www.mass.gov/dcr/preservation2012.htm.
Get out and see history preserved in your parks!
Preservation Month is promoted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. http://www.preservationnation.org/take-action/preservation-month/