Historic Preservation CPA Success Stories

Ernestina-Morrissey Schooner in New Bedford

The Ernestina-Morrissey Schooner in New Bedford - CPA Breathing Life into Maritime History

Since its construction in 1893, the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey has sailed under many names with many purposes, but has undoubtedly earned its place in maritime history. From its origin as a fishermen’s vessel, to remarkable Arctic expeditions, to its contemporary role as an educational vessel, the schooner received its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1990. So when the city of New Bedford received their first slate of CPA applications in 2018, there was never any doubt how important it was to allow the Ernestina-Morrissey to set sail once again.


Tilden House

The Tilden House in Canton - Reviving a 300-Year-Old Remnant

The David Tilden House in Canton, Massachusetts was purchased as part of a very large land acquisition program in 1970. By 1973 the house was deemed ripe for demolition. Built in 1725, with portions that were constructed even earlier, the Tilden House had fallen into disrepair. A group was formed and called the Friends of the Little Red House.



Preserving Southborough’s Historic Legacy: The Burnett-Garfield House

One of the main goals of CPA is to provide the means for cities and towns to protect their unique character and history, and the stately Burnett-Garfield House in Southborough is rich in both. Built with locally quarried stone by entrepreneur Joseph Burnett, a descendant of the town’s first settlers, this regal, 165-year-old manor is an essential piece of Southborough’s history. With the help of CPA, that history is now being preserved for generations to come.

Propsect Hill Tower

Somerville Preserves Its Heritage At Prospect Hill Tower

Near Union Square in Somerville stands the Prospect Hill Tower—a stalwart, granite structure that represents nearly 300 years’ worth of history for the city. A spiral stairway leads to the top of the tower, providing a panoramic view of the surrounding cityscape while an American flag waves overhead. However, due to years of deterioration standing against harsh New England winters, this historic landmark had fallen into disrepair. For the last few years, visitors have not been permitted to climb the tower for safety concerns. It was for this reason that Somerville decided to use $500,000 in CPA funds to restore the tower, preserving it for generations to come.

Historical Artifacts

Communities Bring Historical Artifacts Back to Life with CPA

Many communities are home to significant historic artifacts, but those with the Community Preservation Act are fortunate enough to have a source of funding to perform restorations of these valuable resources. We’ve picked out several projects that highlight the use of CPA funds to transform historical artifacts into unique icons for the public to enjoy.

CPA Archaeology

Archaeology: A Unique Component of CPA Funding

Although it is sometimes overlooked, the ability to fund archaeology projects is a unique and valuable aspect of the Community Preservation Act. While not the largest category of CPA-funded historic preservation projects - for example, only 30 archaeology projects have been funded with CPA funds, as compared to about 400 town and city hall rehabilitation projects – many communities have found that having the ability to fund such projects is a benefit.

Gay Head Lighthouse

Unique Island-Wide CPA Collaboration Preserves the Gay Head Lighthouse

A beloved landmark for the island communities of Martha's Vineyard, the iconic Gay Head Light was dangerously close to the edge of the eroding cliff it has stood on for 158 years.Sitting only 43 feet from the edge of the bluff, the lighthouse was listed as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2013. Now it has been saved through the hard work of residents and a unique case of Island-wide CPA collaboration.

Art Restoration

CPA Funds Classic Art Restoration Projects Across the Commonwealth

The Community Preservation Act (CPA) allows communities to set aside funds to pay for projects that might not otherwise be covered in municipal budgets. While most communities do their best to be good stewards of historic resources, without CPA it's difficult to find the funds necessary to restore important works of art. Read on to learn more about how Gloucester and other CPA communities are using their CPA funds to rejuvenate and preserve municipal works of art.

Cary Building

With CPA, Lexington Restores The Historic Cary Building, Keeps 86-Year Promise

In 1928, the people of Lexington made a promise to keep their brand new Isaac Harris Cary Memorial Building a vibrant and well-maintained centerpiece of their town. During the building’s dedication, the then President of the Trustee’s Robert P. Clapp proclaimed that the building is for “the inhabitants of Lexington, for whose benefit it is has been erected.”

Concord Town House

After 150 Years, Concord's Town House Gets A Much Needed Restoration

In 2012 the Town of Concord began a two-year, CPA-funded project to restore their historic Town House. The Italianate-style structure, located at 22 Monument Square, was built in 1851 in the midst of a thriving agriculture and urban market economy fueled by the expanse of railroads during that time period.

Abigail Adams' Birthplace

Preserving Abigail Adams’s Birthplace: CPA helps rescue Weymouth’s “Hidden Gem”

The first lady and wife of the nation’s second president, Abigail Adams was born and raised in a two-story saltbox-style home in North Weymouth. Until recently, the future of this historic site, museum and national treasure was in question due to its diminishing condition.

Needham Town Hall

Needham Town Hall: Largest CPA Project Ever Tackles Complex Financing Issues on Path to Rehabilitation

The largest appropriation of CPA funds for a single project was recently approved by residents of Needham. At Town Meeting in May, residents gave their stamp of approval to the recommendation of the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) to restore Needham Town Hall, using $15 million in CPA funds.

Gillett Cigar Factory

Gillett Cigar Factory, Southwick

With the help of CPA funds and a group of determined local preservationists, the town of Southwick succeeded in a race against the clock to save what is probably the last surviving cigar factory in the Connecticut River Valley. Although it was in very good condition structurally, the building was scheduled for demolition to make way for a new pharmacy. With a grant from the local CPA fund, the building was carefully dismantled piece-by-piece and moved just down the road. In its new location on Southwick Historical Society property, the preserved factory joins the 1750’s-era Moore house to create a new heritage tourism destination – the Southwick History Museum.

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence, Mendon

In March 2009, Mendon Town Meeting approved the appropriation of $80,000 of CPA funds to resolve humidity and drainage problems in the vault where records, which date to the 17th century and include a copy of the Declaration of Independence, are stored.

Lenox Library

Historic Library Preservation, Lenox

The historic Lenox library (on the National Register of Historic Places) was owned by a private library association which began to experience severe financial trouble just as the town voted to adopt CPA.

Thacher Island

Thacher Island Preservation Project, Rockport

Thacher Island, with its twin 19th century granite lighthouses, is a National Historic Landmark – one of fewer than 2,400 in the nation.

Sheep Hill Farm

Preservation of 839 acres abutting old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge

Measured by acres, this $3.8 million land purchase, split between the town and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, is the largest open space acquisition on record in the Commonwealth using Community Preservation Act funds.