Trustees Superintendent Chris Ward retrieved the damaged lantern and brought it to the shop. “I didn’t know how I was going to fix it,” he said. By chance, Bill saw it there and asked if he could have a go at it in his home shop. Not having a better plan (or any plan at all), Chris said “Sure, let’s see what you can do.”
Bill returned the lantern to the shop in better shape than ever, having updated its aging wiring system. The lantern is once again illuminating the museum door, and Bill has been driving innovation at Stevens-Coolidge ever since.
As it turns out, this semi-retired engineer (with a classic engineer’s eye for detail) is also a hobby carpenter with excellent woodworking skills. In the past year-and-a-half, Bill has built three beautiful wooden gates for the Stevens-Coolidge Place and a neighboring parcel, installed a new zone of automatic irrigation in the greenhouse to help improve our watering practices, built two new kiosks to hold interpretive panels on prescribed fire at Weir Hill, built six new kestrel boxes that will be installed this spring at all three Andover/North Andover properties, and completed several repair projects. And the list of improvements goes on.
But this recent project stands out: in 2008 staff and volunteers agreed to refurbish a large gate near the entrance to the Stevens-Coolidge Place. While the original project had aimed to replace only the severely rotted columns of the gate, some investigation (and a little imagination) led us to realize that this gate – if restored to its original place and dimensions – would return a beautiful feature to the landscape. These changes would also make the property more welcoming by offering a view of the grounds from the road.
In order to be returned to its place of prominence, the gate (already wide enough to drive a car through) needed to be extended. This is a big, technically demanding job. Needless to say, it was given to Bill. In fact, the gate was delivered to his house, so he could work his magic in his own shop. Bill researched the gate’s original construction (finding the blueprints tucked away at the Crane Estate), and then set to work. The gate was ready to hang and paint by midsummer, and final touches were applied in August.
In total, Bill has volunteered nearly 400 hours at Stevens-Coolidge Place since he began in November 2007. He continues to own all his projects – from research through execution. And he is a reminder that if we care enough about conservation to get involved, we will find the work for which we are uniquely suited - or, like a lantern falling out of the night sky, it will find us.
For more information about volunteer opportunities for individuals or groups at The Stevens-Coolidge Place or other Trustees properties in the Andovers, please visit The Trustees of Reservations website www.thetrustees.org or contact Superintendent Chris Ward at 978.682.3580.
About the Trustees’ Mission: Past & Present
Since its founding in 1891 by Charles Eliot, an open space visionary and protégé of the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, The Trustees’ mission has been to preserve, protect and care for properties of exceptional scenic, historic, recreational and ecological value in Massachusetts. As land is being developed and open space is being fragmented at a rapid pace around the state, The Trustees are working to mobilize and inspire a critical mass of people and partners who care about quality of life in their communities and will work to protect and enjoy them.
About The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees are 100,000 people like you, from every corner of Massachusetts, who share a deep set of similar values: a love of the land, of the outdoors and of the distinctive charms of New England, as well as a shared vision of celebrating and protecting them for everyone, forever.
With 102 reservations, comprising nearly 25,000 acres — all of which are open to the public — The Trustees of Reservations’ properties are tremendously diverse and include: mountains and hilltops; forests and woodlands; river valleys and waterfalls; islands, 73 miles of coastline, barrier beaches; marshes, bogs, swamps; open fields and meadows; farms, historic homesteads and now recently, through our permanent affiliation with Boston Natural Areas Network, community gardens and urban wilds throughout the city of Boston.
The Trustees employ 180 full-time and 350-400 seasonal staff with expertise in many areas, including ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out how you can interview Trustees’ experts on important topics and issues, volunteer or become a member, please call The Trustees of Reservations at 781.784.0567, visit at www.thetrustees.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.