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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: Harold Parker - More than a Forest

Harold Parker

Harold Parker was Chairman of the Massachusetts State Forest Commission from its 1914 inception and namesake to Harold Parker State Forest, celebrating its centennial this year.

Born in Charlestown, MA, in 1854, Parker was a civil engineer by profession, living most of his adult life in Lancaster, MA. In 1900, he was appointed a member of the Massachusetts Highway Commission, where he served as chairman from 1908 to 1911. According to his obituary in the Journal of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers, he was “a lover of nature” spending “his leisure in the fields and woods, taking much interest in the forests and natural resources of his neighborhood and state.” To that end, in addition to his service to the State Forest Commission, he also served as a commissioner on the Wachusett Mountain State Reservation Commission, for the Worcester County Commissioners, from its 1899 inception to 1916, and its chairman beginning in 1906.

Parker’s obituary in the 1916 State Forest Commission Annual Report notes that “he was conspicuous among the first in the State to recognize the importance of conserving our natural resources, and his views with regard to the great possibilities which lie in the development of a State forest policy are clearly and forcibly presented in this report, written by him during the closing days of his useful life.”

At the January 2, 1917 meeting of the State Forest Commission, the Commission “Voted that the State Forest situated in the towns of Andover and North Reading be named the Harold Parker State Forest in memory of the former chairman of the Commission." Parker had died on November 29, 1916, at the age of 62.

Harold Parker SP Commissioners
Harold Parker and John T. Burnett, Wachusett Mountain State Reservation Commissioners, July 8, 1904. Photograph taken by WMSR Supt. Guy H. Chase

The year 2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of Harold Parker State Forest and Myles Standish State Forest. It also marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Harold Parker (1854-1916).

You can access the State Forest Commission Annual Reports (1914-1919) online at
http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001295760

You can access the Wachusett Mountain State Reservation Commission Annual Reports (1900-1920) online at
http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008698228