The Canton Historical Society signed a contract with Gerard O'Doherty of Lincoln, Massachusetts for Phase I structural preservation work at the Tilden House. This culminates the efforts of preservationists that began in 1973. With close to forty-five years of work, a major milestone has been met to protect and preserve the historic homestead of David and Abigail Tilden. Work is expected to begin mid-December.
Earlier this week, the Board of Selectmen executed a preservation restriction with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to protect the building in perpetuity. The restriction paved the way for a $50,000 matching grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission. In addition, Governor Baker's Office of Administration and Finance is releasing the $100,000 budget earmark that was filed by Representative William Galvin and Senator Walter Timilty. Taken as whole, more than $500,000 is dedicated to the project.
Taken as a whole, sufficient money has enabled the Canton Historical Society to begin work on the nearly three-hundred year old house. The house was built over the course of the years between 1725 and 1747 with a rear lean-to constructed in the late 17th century and moved into place in 1725. The house has had seven owners - including the Town of Canton who purchased it in 1970. When preservation is completed the house will become a study in early architecture and wood-frame construction techniques. O'Doherty has very specialized skills that will be used to replicate early construction techniques.
In August 2018 the Canton Historical Society assumed a twenty-five year lease and has begun the restoration as a centerpiece of their commitment to the people of Canton. Plans to share the work and develop tours of the preservation efforts will begin later this Winter.
The Canton Historical Society has secured a $100,000 earmark in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Budget. A contract is pending with the Secretary of Administration and Finance. Through the efforts of State Representative William Galvin and Senator Walter Timility, this money will secure full funding for Phase I structural work. Work is expected to be underway within weeks. The money will be used for windows, structural preservation and additional work to move the project forward on a string footing.
The Massachusetts Historical Commission has awarded a $50,000 matching grant to the Canton Historical Society for Phase I structural preservation of the David Tilden House. This highly competitive grant will bring additional financial stability to the project. As part of the Massachusetts Projects Fund Round 24, the Commonwealth is affirming their commitment to one of the oldest houses in Norfolk County and this National Register property.
The house is in grave danger of being lost forever, and this infusion of money will allow for work to begin within the next few months. After more than fifteen years of private efforts, the Friends of the Little Red House and the Canton Historical Society have secured more than $485,000 in overall funding. Placing the house in private hands through the grant of a twenty-five year lease will allow preservation professionals the oversight and care that is needed at this critical juncture. Having the Massachusetts Historical Commission as a partner elevates the work and secures the promise of a permanent preservation agreement for this first-period home.
The matching grant will allow the leveraging of Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds that have been committed to the project to stretch even further. Essentially, $50,000 of CPA money will now be matched by the grant from Mass Historical. The total funds available for this project are now estimated to be $410,000. In addition the CPA has already funded structural plans, a historic structures report and project plans at the 80% design stage. Given that plans and bid documents are at an advanced state of readiness, this project is truly "hammer ready."
Next steps for the project include additional fundraising, a sign-off from the Board of Selectmen for the preservation restriction and engaging the architect in mobilizing the plans and bidding documents. The Canton Historical Society remains cautiously optimistic that stabilization work can begin as early as September and will be completed by June 2019.
As part of the FY19 State Budget, Canton's Representative William Galvin filed an earmark (Amendment #977 to House 4400) dedicating $100,000 for the preservation of the David Tilden House. It is expected that Senator Walter Timilty will do the same in the Senate. The earmark for Canton is another critical step towards the preservation goals of this project.
Earlier this year, both Galvin and Timilty wrote letters of support to the Massachusetts Historical Commission in recognition of the need for funding under the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF). The grant application was submitted by the Canton Historical Society, Inc. and is a supporting element as we move forward.
The work at the Tilden House will comprehensively address the structural issues as outlined in the Historic Structures Report and the attendant structural engineering report. The MPPF grant request will only cover a portion of the overall project with the match and additional funding provided by Community Preservation funds. The portion of the project covered by the grant will include the repair of above ground foundation, replacing sills and studs as needed, reinforcing corner posts and plates, sintering or replacing running timber girts, replacing and repairing the west bay of the house, replacing the roof, selective sheathing replacement and new clapboards.
The proposed work is critical given the age and condition of this historic site. The physical condition speaks for itself. At present, unless this work moves forward, it is quite likely this contributing structure to the Canton Corner National Historic District will be lost forever. Moreover, tied to this grant is the significance of the preservation restriction. The preservation restriction will assure that this will indeed be a successful project. The future use of the Tilden House by the Canton Historical Society, Inc. includes educational components tied to proposed work – through curriculum and multimedia development of the preservation process, as well as providing a safe and secure building that will allow us to preserve this historic building.
We are fortunate to have leaders in the House and Senate who understand the work being done at the Tilden House. As the budget season progresses, we look forward to building even more momentum in the legislature with the hope for Governor Baker's assent to the funding request.
Over the last three months there has been quite a bit of progress that moves us closer to kicking off preservation work at the Tilden House. At the 2017 Annual Town Meeting, the voters supported declaring the house surplus property. The Board of Selectmen issued a compressive Request for Proposals (RFP), and the Canton Historical Society stepped forward to answer answer the call. A 25-30 year lease will allow the Society to take on the project in a way that is core to the mission and expertise of the organization.
The behind the scenes look at the preservation of this historic structure.