Preservation Massachusetts Conference 2019

Preservation Massachusetts Conference 2019

See a full recap of the conference’s sessions here.

On September 20th, the Historic Boston staff traveled to Plymouth, MA for the Massachusetts Historic Preservation Conference. Since 2015, the Massachusetts Historic Preservation Conference has hosted an biennial program in partnership with preservation organizations and agencies around the Commonwealth. Over 300 attendees gathered in Plymouth to attend session on topics like the Community Preservation Fund, Opportunity Zones, Adaptive Reuse, and to discuss numerous Historic Preservation case studies from around the state.

The theme of the 2019 conference was “Untold Stories in Preservation”, and included sessions like “How to Advocate for Special Places in Your Community”, which examined the ways in which historic preservation can and should reflect the multiplicity of histories encapsulated within one structure.

Nicole Benjamin-Ma of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB) spoke about the importance of making historic preservation work, and its interpretation, friendly to non-preservationists in “How to Advocate for Special Places in Your Community”. She stressed that historic preservation projects can be so wrapped up in jargon, that it becomes discouraging to those in other professional fields who want to be involved in preservation projects in their own community. She called for preservationists to tackle this issue and make the field of study more accessible.

Preservation Consultant (and former HBI Staff member), Jeff Gonyeau, lead a session on “Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings” and highlighted a series of case studies which highlighted community activism and partnerships that fueled the fire for a number of unique historic preservation projects including: The Whatley Town Hall and City Space in East Hampton.


One of the Plymouth’s largest CPA-funded project was the historic Town Hall and 1820 Court House.

The Torrent Four Engine is at the Plymouth 1749 Court House Museum

The day ended with a selection of sessions including panel to discuss the The W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site and tours of historic Plymouth to see all of the projects that were funded in part by the Community Preservation Act. The Plymouth Town Hall, the 1820 Court House, and a selection of former churches. During the stop at the 1749 Court House And Museum, some of the HBI staff discovered the Torrent Four Engine (you might remember our office at 20 Eustis Street was home to the man-pulled Torrent Six engine).

Thank you to Preservation Mass for a wonderful and informative day. The gathering of so many minds interested in preservation fills us with new energy to continue our preservation work! We look forward to the next conference!