From our “mother tongue” to our father’s faith, 
from medical risks to natural hazards,
where we start our journey has much to do with our future.  
– Harm de Blij, The Power of Place

Your friends at the Historical Commission dedicate this page to you and to your commitment to historic preservation. As the founders of the Harvard Historical Commission established in the early 1970’s, we today, together with you and your neighbors, continue the sentiment and appreciation for Harvard’s history and its historic places. These form part of the unique culture that defines Harvard. Preserving these historic places is costly and difficult work, but the returns and the rewards more than compensate us in our grandchildren’s generations ahead. Please know that we are available to you as a resource to use in planning a renovation or remodeling project.

We may be Commissioners…  but we are also taxpayers, volunteers and yes, your neighbors.

We are interested in making your experience with preserving your historic place and living in our historic districts an enjoyable success! Please feel free to download any of the documents on your District Residents’ Page

We welcome your suggestions for any other document or article that you would find useful to have here ‘at the ready‘.



HARVVARD historic district sign2B


One of the strongest qualities of local historic district designation is that it can be tailored to the specific needs and distinct identity of the community, and helps to protect and preserve local resources, even while the community is changing.  Development that enhances a historic district is important to the community’s evolution since it ties past, present and future together.  Change further indicates a healthy and lively community, and reflects the united pride and investment the residents have in their neighborhood.  There are numerous other advantages to establishing a local historic district:

  • Local districts protect the investments of owners and residents.  Buyers know that the aspects that make a particular area attractive will be protected over a period of time.  Real estate agents in many municipalities use historic district status as a marketing tool to sell properties.
  • Local districts encourage better design.  It has been shown through comparative studies that there is a greater sense of relatedness, more innovative use of materials, and greater public appeal within historic districts than in areas without historic designations.
  • Local districts help the environment.  Historic district revitalization can, and should, be part of a comprehensive environmental policy.
  • SHAKER historic district sign2B


    The educational benefits of creating local districts are the same as those derived from any historic preservation effort.  Districts can help explain the development of a place, the source of inspiration, and technological advances.  They are a record of ourselves and our communities.

  • A local district can result in a positive economic impact from tourism.  A historic district that is aesthetically cohesive and well promoted can be a community’s most important attraction.  The retention of historic areas as a way to attract tourist dollars makes good economic sense.
  • The protection of local historic districts can enhance business recruitment potential.  Companies continually re-locate to communities that offer their workers a higher quality of life, which is greatly enhanced by successful local preservation programs and stable historic districts.
  • Local districts provide social and psychological benefits.  A sense of empowerment and confidence develops when community decisions are made through a structured participatory process rather than behind closed doors or without public comment.



  1. Informing the Historical Commission:  DO I HAVE TO? …AND WHEN? 
  2. Understand the DO’s AND DON’Ts of working on your property
  3. Learn how to get APPROVAL to work on your house



Following are the projects that are in progress, from the Latest to the Oldest…

  • 25 Fairbank Street, K.M. Bigelow House (30 Mar 2015) 
  • 2 Littleton Road, Whitney House (3 Mar 2015) 
  • Town Hall, Harvard Common Historic District (12 Jan 2015) 
  • Powder House, Harvard Common Historic District (14 Nov 2014) 






  •  Restoring American Gardens, an Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants 1640-1940 by Denise Wiles Adams, Timber Press, Inc. Portland, OR. 2004
  •  Landscapes and Gardens for Historic Buildings, Rudy J. Favretti and Joy Putman Favretti. Second edition, revised. AltaMira Press, CA. 1991
  •  Tower Hill Botanic Garden and library, 11 French Drive, Boylston, MA http://www.towerhillbg.org


  • General Note.  The following list of businesses offer services in the repair, remodeling and restoration of old and historic buildings. We present this listing as a service to our district residents. However, by including a particular business in our listing, we make no claims nor do we endorse that business. We encourage our district residents to investigate and inform themselves before contracting with any particular business entity.
  • Carpentry, Structural Repairs:
    • OLD HOUSE MECHANIC, Renaissance Restorations LLC, 35 Grove Ave, Leominster, MA 01453-3107, phone: 978.840.9054, www.oldhousemechanic.com
  • House Inspections:


  1. Hello,
    My property “6 Stonecutters Path” is included in your list associated with the Shaker Village historic district, but shaded yellow. Can you tell me what it means to be on the list but shaded yellow? I think a corner of my property is within the boundary of the district, but my house isn’t close to that boundary and is barely visible through trees from any of the properties in the district.

    Thank you,
    Bruce Papazian


    • Hi Bruce… First, the yellow shading means that your property is not listed in our Local Register for Historic Places. (https://hhcommission.wordpress.com/local-register/). The reason for that is that your home is not within the boundaries of the Shaker Village Historic District. Even if it were, it would not be in the Local Register because it is not a historic home. In this first round of defining the properties within the boundaries of the Historic District, we wanted to begin with a complete list so that we could be sure that we had included all properties whether it made sense or not. Clearly, your property is one which should be removed. We will remove your property from our listing and eventually our website documents will be revised. Thanks for raising this important point, Bruce.


  2. The proposed cemetery gate looks okay, but the sign in the “original photo” looks awfully rough for Shaker lettering. Is that really a historical sign, and do they plan to copy it exactly? If not, what typeface or lettering style will you use? Also, do we know the date of the gate in the photo?


    • We have several photos that were taken as early as the 1920’s judging by the surrounding trees and another taken at least 20 years later fully surrounded by mature trees. The gate in all photos is the same with the same sign and lettering. One of the photos came from a post card that was published in 1938. The photo could have been taken earlier but the vegetation suggests no earlier than the 30’s. Our plan is to reproduce the gate and sign as closely as we can.


  3. In general, I am supportive of the plan to replace the gate. But I have a few questions and comments.

    Like Jonathan, I feel that the sign is likely a post-Shaker period style, because it appears rather crudely crafted. (While I’m voice opinions, it would be great if the polished granite marker that was added in 1970s could also be removed as historically inappropriate.)

    I didn’t understand why new drillholes were being done on the cemetery side of the post rather than on the inside of the gate posts as was done originally. Also, the hardware proposed will definitely look contemporary rather than original, so I am not too satisfied with that proposal. Also note that as someone who has drilled into the Ayer Formation granite, it is delicate like glass. There is a risk of breaking the gate post if treated aggressively. Be careful!

    Currently, visitors just pass over or around the chain that stretches between the gate posts. How are visitors expected to through the gate? Are they to open it, then close it behind them when they leave? They may not be diligent about that.

    Thanks for this proposal, it could be a nice addition to the cemetery.

    Marc Sevigny
    101 S Shaker Road


    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Mark. As noted in my previous response, the sign and its lettering is in photos taken as early as 1920 and as late as 1938, so given the probably pine wood construction, it couldn’t be much older. So the best we can do presently is to reproduce the lettering on that sign until or unless we uncover older photos or drawings. If we do, we will certainly revise the sign to the older lettering which would make a nice improvement. As to the drilled holes in the granite post, the Commission decided to change the gate to swing inside the cemetery rather than swing outside in the road as the earlier gate did for obvious safety reasons. We have secured a local stone mason to drill the holes which won’t completely penetrate the post. The hinge design is simple and while we don’t know what the original hinge looked like, it is on the same idea judging by the hardware that is left in the bottom mount. The hardware is a little stronger but it’s appearance is congruous with the original probable design. The gate itself will be fairly light. The vertical and horizontal members will be crafted to the same dimensions and profile as the old gate. The vertical members vary from wide and thick at the hinge to narrower and thinner at the other end. It will be constructed from clear cedar, so it will be fairly light to open and close. To open or close, it will be a simple matter of lifting it and carrying it to the open or closed positions. Once it’s let down, it will stay where it rests on the ground. Hopefully, people will take the care to close it completely. There will be a stone in the ground that will act as a catch as with the old gate. We are thrilled at making this improvement and especially as a collaboration between several town commissions, the Lions and the Scouts. As to your interesting comment about the entrance monument, I will follow up with the Commission to get their consensus. We need to understand who installed it and how that came about. In general, we agree with you sense of appropriateness. I think you will be glad to hear that we are looking into possibly reproducing the missing markers as a means of visually identifying all 300+ of the Shakers who are buried in that cemetery. Again, thanks Mark.


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