- Department of Conservation & Recreation
Media Contact for DCR Seeks Curator for Historic 1840s Farmhouse at Willowdale State Forest
Olivia Dorrance, Press Secretary
IPSWICH — In an effort to preserve culturally significant structures contained within the state parks system, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)’s Historic Curatorship Program seeks out entities to partner with the agency to aid in the protection of select properties with great potential for reuse, and today the program is announcing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the rehabilitation, maintenance, and management of the Whitehead House, an 1840s farmhouse located at Willowdale State Forest in the Town of Ipswich. Through the Historic Curatorship Program, outside parties work to restore a historic property in return for credit toward a long-term lease. An open house for perspective curators to assess the interior of the building is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, August 3, 2019 from 10:00AM to 1:00PM, and the deadline for RFP responses is set for Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Additionally, interested parties can find the application documents, information about the property, and to RSVP for the open house on DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program webpage.
“The Massachusetts state parks system is filled with historic structures that help tell the Commonwealth’s fascinating history, and it is extremely important that we continue to work to preserve buildings like the Whitehead House for future generations to learn from and enjoy,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy. “The Historic Curatorship Program serves as a great example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s efforts to foster public-private partnerships to achieve shared goals that directly benefit the public.”
The Whitehead House, built circa 1840, retains its original exterior finishes and is noteworthy for its simple, well-proportioned Greek Revival form with sidelights and a glass transom that surrounds the front door. It was purchased by Bradley Palmer from the Small family in the early 20th century, and became part of Palmer’s large country estate. The two-bedroom, 1,400-square-foot house sits on the northern edge of Willowdale State Forest, and is minutes from downtown Ipswich and the MBTA Commuter Rail.
“The Historic Curatorship program succeeds at building public-private partnerships that safeguard the preservation of significant historic resources while providing benefits to visitors and neighbors alike,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R–Gloucester). “The Whitehead House needs and deserves a curator dedicated to preserving this important cultural resource.”
Under DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program, curators are selected through an open and competitive process. The program has resulted in very successful partnerships across the state that represent a diverse range of building types and reuses, such as residential farmhouses like the Whitehead House, a mountaintop restaurant and inn (Bascom Lodge at Mount Greylock State Reservation), a premier events facility (Willowdale Estate at Bradley Palmer State Park), and artist live-work lofts (Baker Administration Building, Dorchester).
Additionally, the Historic Curatorship Program requires that the property is used in a way that is compatible with the historic building, the park, and the surrounding neighborhood and community. The selection process of curators is based on a number of criteria, including the overall quality of the proposal, experience in restoration and historic preservation, financial resources, and the proposed incorporation of public benefits. Curators must also provide public access to the property at least two times a year.
Furthermore, the RFP provides information about the property, the Historic Curatorship Program, response requirements, DCR’s criteria for evaluating proposals for selection, and conditions assessments, cost estimates and other background materials to assist in the preparation of a proposal. Since the DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program’s inception in 1994, over $24 million in private funds has been leveraged toward the preservation of twenty-four of the state’s unused but historically significant properties. The program has become a national model, inspiring other government entities to add this innovative public-private partnership to their preservation toolbox.