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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

Archives from the Field

Cole’s Hill Sarcophagus

 Cole’s Hill Sarcophagus, Pilgrim Memorial State Park, Plymouth

Atop Cole’s Hill in Pilgrim Memorial State Park in Plymouth stands a polished granite sarcophagus, one of many monuments commemorating the arrival of European settlers in 1620.  Cole’s Hill, a designated National Historic Landmark, overlooks Plymouth Harbor and was the traditional burial place of the Plymouth colonists, Pilgrims and others who died in the first winter of 1620-21.  The Cole’s Hill Sarcophagus was erected in 1920-21 by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants to house the remains of members of the early Plymouth settlement that were uncovered during excavations on the hill in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The sarcophagus features applied bronze letters that spell out commemorative messages and the names of those settlers who perished in the first year.  Many of those bronze letters are loose, missing, or replaced with poorly matched replacement letters.  In an effort to address this problem, DCR has recently hired a conservator to assess the monument and prepare recommendations for restoring the monument and its lettering.