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Preservation of the Commonwealth’s cultural heritage is an important aspect of the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s mission. The cultural resources that can be found in our state parks and forests span thousands of years and includes Native American sites, cellar holes and stones walls that tell the story of the state’s earliest settlement patterns, military landscapes, historic estates, and a metropolitan park system designed by a pioneer of the profession of landscape architecture, Charles Eliot. With over 100 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including eight National Historic Landmarks, the cultural resources under DCR’s care tells the story of our state and our nation. The Office of Cultural Resources (OCR) carries out the DCR’s preservation mission through stewardship of the agency’s historic buildings, structures, landscapes, archaeological sites, and archival resources.

OCR staff provides professional expertise, technical assistance, project management skills, and training opportunities in the areas of landscape preservation, preservation planning, adaptive reuse, archaeology, archival records management , and compliance with local, state and federal historic preservation laws. In addition to leading the historic preservation programs and initiatives of the agency, OCR staff directly support activities undertaken by other bureaus and divisions within the agency. As a leader in the field of historic landscape preservation, the office also provides assistance to cities and towns through the development of innovative tools for protecting their significant historic landscapes.

Contact: Patrice Kish, Director at 617-626-1378

From the Archives / From the Field

Recently, DCR, MWRA, and the Massachusetts State Archives, working jointly, have made available 8,800 photographic images that document the Metropolitan Water Works (MWW) System between 1895 and 1926 through the Digital Commonwealth website – www.digitalcommonwealth.org. This treasure trove of photographs documents the construction and early operation of the water supply and distribution system throughout metropolitan Boston at the start of the 20th Century.

The collection covers the Wachusett Reservoir, Wachusett Dam, Wachusett Aqueduct, Sudbury Reservoir, Sudbury Dam, Weston Aqueduct, Weston Reservoir, and the associated pipe lines, pumping stations, reservoirs, and standpipes. The images include homes, businesses, mills, town buildings, schools, churches, cemeteries, and railroad stations. About 50 different cities and towns, as well as several Boston neighborhood districts, can be seen in this collection. These pictures, mostly derived from 7,839 glass plate negatives, represent the Boston area’s drinking water system prior to the 1926-1940 expansion that culminated in the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir. The Boston Public Library Digital Services, through its partnership with Digital Commonwealth, utilized federal and state grants to digitally transform the collection at no cost to the inter-agency collaborators. The original photographs in this collection are now in the safekeeping of the Massachusetts State Archives.

Wachusett Reservoir, Thomas H. Burgess' house, from the south, Clinton, Mass., Jun. 12, 1896

Wachusett Dam, laying the last stone, laid by John Mercer, laborer, Clinton, Mass., Jun. 24, 1905