The Trustees is Awarded National Endowment for the Humanities $450,000 Challenge Grant for New Welcome Center at The Old Manse, a National Historic Landmark in Concord

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Grant Helps Trustees Reach a Total of $975,500 Raised Toward $2M Fundraising Goal

The Old Manse, Concord

The Trustees, Massachusetts’ largest conservation and preservation nonprofit known for the preservation of cultural, natural, and scenic sites for public use and enjoyment, today announced the organization has been be awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant in the amount of $450,000. The grant will help fund the construction of a Welcome Center at The Old Manse, a National Historic Landmark located in Concord, MA and one of The Trustees’ most exceptional historic properties. This June, The Trustees also secured funding support through a $500,000 Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (MCFF) grant which helps fulfill a match required by the Challenge Grant for NEH in order to allocate federal dollars to the project.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States, awarding grants to top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers through an extensive, four-level review process. The Trustees is one of 15 recipients nationwide to receive this award. The NEH has provided invaluable support to The Trustees in the past, particularly with regard to establishing The Trustees’ Archives and Research Center in 2005, when NEH awarded The Trustees a challenge grant for $450,000, to create a state-of-the art, energy efficient facility to store the organization’s multitude archival materials and collections.

“We are so honored and grateful to receive this generous grant from the NEH -- one of our country’s most important supporters of culture and the humanities,” says Barbara Erickson, Trustees President and CEO. “As a result of this and the MCFF grant, we have reached $975,500 toward our ambitious $2M fundraising goal for this important project.”
“NEH provides support for projects across America that preserve our heritage, promote scholarly discoveries, and make the best of America’s humanities ideas available to all Americans,” said NEH Chairman William D. Adams. “We are proud to announce this latest group of grantees who, through their projects and research, will bring valuable lessons of history and culture to Americans.”

Built in 1770 for Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grandfather, patriot minister William Emerson, The Old Manse is situated near the banks of the Concord River next to the old North Bridge, site of the famous battle of April 19, 1775 that triggered the Revolutionary War. The historic homestead became the center of Concord’s political, literary, and social revolutions over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, housing and hosting several notable Transcendentalists within its rooms, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathanial Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Branson Alcott and Margaret Fuller. At the Old Manse, Ralph Waldo Emerson penned his essay “Nature,” Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote Mosses from an Old Manse, and Henry David Thoreau set off for the boat trip that he would later describe in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.

Once funding is complete, The Trustees plans to construct a Welcome Center on the foundations of an 18th-century barn, built to the same scale, which stood on the property between 1774 and 1924. While the Old Manse currently offers tours and programs to thousands of visitors annually, at present, visitors can only experience the Old Manse through a 45-minute interior house tour and seasonal programs offered outside. The new Welcome Center will help The Trustees expand indoor tours, interactive programs, exhibits, events and visitor amenities, enhancing public appreciation of the role of the Old Manse in the nation’s political, intellectual, and literary history among local residents, tourists, Trustees members, tour and school groups, teachers and humanities scholars. The space will include interpretive display areas, programming and workshop space, visitor restrooms, seating and food service, staff office/meeting space, and space for private and public events.

The Welcome Center is part of The Trustees’ ongoing, successful multi-million dollar “Bringing Our Stories to Life” campaign designed to invigorate, restore, and enhance visitor experiences and enjoyment at the organization’s cultural sites, which range from the Colonial era and the Downton Abbey-esque Gilded Age, to the Modernist retro era of Mad Men. Filled with unique collections of art, artifacts, and furnishings, as well as exquisitely designed gardens and stunning natural landscapes, several Trustees cultural sites are also National Historic Landmarks designed by renowned architects and landscape architects. In just over 3 years, The Trustees has raised nearly $24M in the $26.4M 5-year campaign, generating significant enthusiasm and generous philanthropic support from its many donors, members, and supporters. Properties where The Trustees have increased focus and investment have already seen a 30-40% uptick in visitation. The Manse is currently has 12,000-15,000 annual visitors. With the addition of the new Welcome Center, and over time the organization hopes to significantly increase site visitation, diversity of programming, and overall enjoyment and appreciation for this significant National Historic Landmark. To learn more about how to support the campaign, contact Denise Trapani at

The Trustees preserve and care for some of the best of Massachusetts’ natural, scenic, and cultural sites for the public to use and enjoy. Our passion is to engage more people in culture, agriculture, nature, and healthy, active lifestyles, using our properties, our community spaces, and our many programs as a powerful and compelling platform to connect people to places and each other in our increasingly digitized world. As the Commonwealth’s largest conservation and preservation organization and nation’s first land trust founded in 1891 by Boston landscape architect and open space visionary Charles Eliot, we believe in protecting the irreplaceable for everyone, forever. Today, we care for 114 spectacular and diverse reservations spanning more than 26,000 acres– from working farms, landscaped and urban gardens, and community parks, to barrier beaches, forests, campgrounds, inns and historic sites, many of which are National Historic Landmarks – located within minutes of every resident. We are also the founding partner of the Boston Public Market, the first all locally-sourced indoor market of its kind in the nation where we operate our Appleton Farms vendor booth and are the programming partner for the Market’s demonstration KITCHEN where we run culinary, health and wellness programs. Funded by our more than 100,000 members and supporters and 1.2 million visitors, we invite you to get out, get inspired, and find magic in the moment at a Trustees property near you:

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

*Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this press release do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Katie Marshall
Trustees of Reservations
+1 6179045365 Ext: 2124
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