View from the Pergolas... of the western panorama from Clara Endicott Sears' home


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From our first settlers in 1668 through our citizens today, there continues today a strong appreciation for the natural beauty in our town. Beginning with Bare Hill Pond, to the panoramas of Still River, Prospect Hill, Oak Hill, we are surrounded by a treasure of natural beauty. Such beauty that attracted the first settlers, traders, millers, and farmers; then later the industrialists, entrepreneurs and the writers, artists, thinkers, philosophers and philanthropists. All with their individual gifts came to bequeath so much cultural wealth to our history.

THE PERGOLAS… Miss Clara Endicott Sears’ residence on Prospect Hill by her favorite creation: the Fruitlands museum. The Italianate building was dismantled soon after Miss Sears died in 1960.

THE PERGOLAS…   Miss Clara Endicott Sears’ residence on Prospect Hill by her favorite creation:  the Fruitlands Museum. Built in 1912, the Italianate building was dismantled soon after Miss Sears died in 1960. The view shown in the panarama photo above was taken from the location of the Pergolas.

Appreciation for this wealth was very much alive in the early 1970’s when the town chose to take action to preserve our town history by designating the village Common and the Shaker Village area as historic districts; a legal mandate to preserve our historic assets.

By its architecture and by the interesting and sometimes colorful biographies of its owners, our historic buildings teach us about their owners and the times in which they lived. One of our own Commissioners, Doug Coots, expressed this idea so eloquently in his comment about the expressive and colorful Italianate architecture of the post Civil War period:

“Architecture as an industry, stylistically is always influenced by the economic climate in which it resides. The historic period following the Civil War was economically vibrant and progressive. The Union had been preserved, an awful institution had been abolished, the war effort had proven the value of Mass Production. The West Territories were soon to be connected to the East by rail. The Gilded Age inclined architects to look again to Europe, especially toward architectural periods which suggested power and success. The Italian Renaissance and the Villas which represented the agrarian foundations of a nation’s sustainability were a fitting aesthetic.”

Today, the residents of our historic districts continue this appreciation and work with us as a team to preserve our historic wealth.

REGISTER OUR HISTORIC PLACES.  We recommend that you first check ourLOCAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES to determine whether your property is registered. If your property is not registered and you are certain that your property was built more than 100 years ago, we will tell you in this section how to proceed to register your historic place. It is not a difficult process and the Commission will be glad to help you in that process.


HIGHLIGHT OUR HISTORIC PLACES.  The principal reason for historical preservation is to understand the culture and accomplishments of our ancestors and their contributions to our current and future generations. An important aspect of that culture are the buildings that were designed and built. A second aspect are the personalities who lived in those homes and their contributions to our culture and history. An excellent way to trigger that conversation is to highlight our historic properties to focus on the historical information (e.g., year built, who built it, history of the property itself).In this section, we address the Commission’s several methods for ‘HIGHLIGHTING OUR HISTORIC PLACES’  including the strategic placement of ‘Interpretative Panels’ to highlight the summary historical information about our districts, areas and other places. There are many other techniques to highlight our historic places, e.g., produce a video for each asset that may be viewed online. We will discuss each in this section.


MODIFY OUR HISTORIC PLACES.  For those who are owners or responsible agents of an heirloom or an historic building and you would like to make some repairs or changes to the building, there are two approaches to use depending on whether the historic place is inside or outside a historic district. In either case, the Commission is prepared to help you with the task.



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