Friends of the Little Red House, Inc.
1973 - 1978
In the summer of 1973 it was a sad time for the Little Red House as a demolition order had been given by the Building Commissioner to raze the structure. On July 15th a local group of concerned citizens gathered at the Canton Historical Society to begin the process of saving the Tilden House. This early effort was most impressive and was led by State Representative Paul Schneiders, William Reynolds, the Chairman of the Board of the Neponset Valley Bank, Richard Sarra, Robert Jordan, Joseph Leary, Jr., and Historical Society President Katherine Sullivan.
The task of raising money was set upon and early donations were generally $10.00 - $20.00. The fundraising efforts were bolstered by the sale of 200 copies at a cost of $100.00 each of a reprint of Huntoon's History of Canton, Massachusetts. This limited edition was numbered and included a 500 page bibliography prepared by Miss Alice C. Reynolds. The bibliography took more than four years to complete. The Friends was able to raise more than $28,000 for the repairs to then aging structure.
The work by the original Friends group included the commission of a technical report by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. This report became the foundation of research that gives fact and credibility to the importance of the building as one of the most historic local landmarks. At this same time local resident Doris Peters penned her famed poem about the plight of the beloved house.
In July 1976, during our nation's bicentennial, the home underwent extensive repair and support. A new foundation was placed under the oldest section of the house. It is likely that new electrical and plumbing systems were installed and work was completed on new storm windows at a cost of $3000 and roof repairs for $2300.
The group disbanded by the late 1970's and the property one again began to fall into disrepair. In 1993 at the urging of Conservation Commission Member, Chris Brindley, the Canton Association of Industries donated $500 to preserve the 18th century staircase rather than remove it to abate lead paint. Commissioner Brindley, also a curator at the local historical society, had been a long supporter of the preservation of the interior of the house and created a virtual tour in November 2001.
2003 - 2015
Once again a group has gathered to adopt the house as their own, the purpose of the current group (also named the Friends of the Little Red House, Inc.) is to foster a greater appreciation for the protection and preservation of the historic David Tilden House in Canton, Massachusetts among the people of the Town of Canton, Massachusetts and the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Further, this organization has been formed to dedicated itself to the mission of rehabilitation and suitable use of this historic building.
A three member Board of Directors oversees the corporation and ensures a dedicated group of preservationists will help steer the course.
2015 - Today
At the Annual Town Meeting in 2015, the voters of Canton gave the Tilden House a new life. With the passage of Article 19, Motion 5, the citizens passed funding for major structural, and architectural work to commence in 2016. George Comeau represents the Board of Selectmen and the Friends of the Little Red House, Inc. on the Canton Building Renovation Committee.
After due diligence, the town determined that preservation of the Tilden House would be best served in the hands of a non-profit organization dedicated to preservation. The Annual Town Meeting of 2016 approved an article that would allow the Board of Selectmen to lease the Tilden House to a non-profit for a term of up to thirty years.
The Friends of the Little Red House, Inc. have partnered with the Canton Historical Society to take this project on, and are moving forward to answer a bid for the lease.
The strategy for this project is such that it will take several years to implement a strategic plan, but the group will remain vigilant and fully dedicated to the mission and support of the Tilden House.
We are a Nonprofit Massachusetts Corporation, and future plans call for programming the Tilden House as a historic destination that serves as a backdrop to understanding colonial life in New England.
George T. Comeau, Esq., President
Wally Gibbs, Vice President
Patricia Johnson, PhD., Vice President and Treasurer
Advisors & Partners
The Canton Conservation Commission
The Canton Historical Commission
The Canton Historical Society
Town of Canton - Board of Selectmen