Trustees of Reservations' Historic Mission House Receives Three Grants

Contact Information

Susan Edwards
Director of Historic Resources
978.921.1944 x1896
207.423.4951
sedwards@ttor.org

Will Garrison
Historic Resources Manager
413.298.3239 x3012
wgarrison@ttor.org

Stockbridge, Massachusetts – The Trustees of Reservations are pleased to announce one of their Stockbridge community gems, Mission House, a National Historic Landmark, has received three grants totaling $35,000 to restore its famous 18th-century door. On June 15, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin announced that tMission House received $27,000 from the Massachusetts Historical Commission’s Preservation Projects Fund. In May, the Town of Stockbridge allocated $5,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for this project. And recently, The Massachusetts Chapter of the Society of Colonial Wars, together with National Society of Colonial Wars, gave an additional $3,500.

“We are most grateful for the support to preserve this National Historic Landmark for future generations of visitors and the Stockbridge community,” said Steve McMahon, Trustees Berkshires Regional Director. The Trustees of Reservations is the nation’s oldest statewide land trust and nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting places of historic, scenic and natural significance throughout Massachusetts.

“The Mission House in Stockbridge is a National Historic Landmark and cultural gem of the Berkshires,” said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield). “Funding this restoration project represents a true collaboration among municipal, state, nonprofit and private entities. I am pleased Massachusetts Historical Commission is committed to preserving the Mission House and the rich history that surrounds it.”

The Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund, established in 1984, supports the preservation of properties, landscapes, and cultural resources in the Commonwealth. Historic cultural resources frequently suffer from deferred maintenance, incompatible use, or are threatened by demolition. By providing assistance to historic cultural resources owned by nonprofit or municipal entities, the Massachusetts Historical Commission ensures their continued use and integrity.

Stockbridge passed the Community Preservation Act in 2002. This allows a surcharge on real estate transactions, and with a match from the Commonwealth, the funds are used for open space preservation, affordable housing, and historic preservation projects. The Society of Colonial Wars works to honor the events of Colonial History which took place within the period beginning with the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, May 13, 1607, and preceding the battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775.

The most outstanding architectural aspect of Mission House is its Connecticut River Valley doorway with an elaborately carved pediment. The doorway is one of a handful that survives from the approximately 200 made in the 18th century, and the only one in Berkshire County. Many of the clapboards also date from the 18th century.

After decades of harsh Berkshires weather, the ca. 1760s doorway and the original clapboards need restoration. Preservation carpenters and conservators will conserve the doorway, the most important architectural element of the house, and preserve and re-stain the house’s original clapboards. Original fabric will be retained wherever possible and if clapboards need to be replaced, they will be matched in kind.

Mission House is an icon of colonial history and stands as a testament to the settlement and early days of Stockbridge. It was built in 1741 for the Rev. John Sergeant, the first missionary to the Mohican (Stockbridge) Indians. It was sited on top of Prospect Hill, where the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy is now located. John Sergeant (1710–1749), a graduate of Yale, came to Stockbridge in 1734 to establish a school and mission for the Mohican Indians.

It was in Mission House that Sergeant met with members of the Stockbridge tribe and prepared his sermons, which were delivered in the tribe’s native tongue. Sergeant and his wife Abigail had three children here, in what was probably the finest house in 18th century Stockbridge. The house, after falling into disrepair, was saved by Miss Mabel Choate in 1927. Miss Choate had the house moved to Main Street, hiring architect Fletcher Steele to create a setting of gardens and outbuildings. Mission House, first opened to the public in 1930, continues to enthrall thousands of visitors each year.

Mission House is a beloved treasure of the Stockbridge community that has been preserved by The Trustees of Reservations since 1948. Generations of local school children have visited the property, an annual practice which continues today, and visitors come from almost every state in the country as well as about a dozen foreign countries.

Mission House not only attracts visitation and support from the local community and year-round tourists, but also appeals to a wider audience including those studying and interested in architecture, colonial American history, Native American history, theological history, and American furniture and decorative arts from the 17th and 18th centuries. Staff works closely with representatives of these groups on research, education programs, and publications. Educational institutions that benefit include the local schools as well as colleges and universities. The Trustees is financially and philosophically committed at both governance and staff levels to the long-term stewardship and sharing of its rich humanities holdings with a wide and increasing audience.

The Trustees of Reservations in the Berkshires:
In the Berkshires, The Trustees of Reservations welcomes the public to experience and enjoy 13 special places, including: Naumkeag, Bartholomew’s Cobble, the Mission House, Field Farm, Mountain Meadow Preserve, Ashintully Gardens, Tyringham Cobble, and the Ashley House. Reliant on dedicated staff, volunteers, members and donors, The Trustees works to raise community awareness around the importance of preserving exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological landscapes; to interpret the stories that emerge from our local history and define our community character; to sustain local farms and natural resources; and to offer our visitors top notch outdoor experiences. For The Trustees Berkshires Regional Office, please call 413.298.3239 ext. 3010.

More about The Trustees of Reservations in Massachusetts
The Trustees are 100,000 people like you, who love the outdoors and the distinctive charms of New England, and believe in celebrating and protecting them for future generations. Since 1891, The Trustees have ?held in trust,? and cared for special places called “reservations.” From working farms to historic homesteads, formal gardens, barrier beaches, open meadows, woodland trails and mountain vistas, The Trustees own and care for 100 reservations in Massachusetts – nearly 25,000 acres in more than 70 communities, all of which are open to the public.

In addition, The Trustees hold conservation restrictions on more than 16,000 acres of privately owned land and have worked with communities and other conservation partners to assist in the protection of an additional 16,000 acres. A member-, donor- and endowment-supported organization, The Trustees also provide hundreds of year-round programs and events that inspire people of all ages to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate and care for natural, scenic and cultural landscapes and landmarks across the Commonwealth. Most events are free-of-charge or heavily discounted for members. As land is being developed and open space is being fragmented at a rapid pace around the state, time is running out to save the best of Massachusetts’ landscapes and landmarks. To find out how you can help, consider becoming a volunteer and/or member by calling The Trustees at 413.298.3239 X3000 or emailing membership@ttor.org.