Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Provident Bank Offers Support, Visitor Center News, Concert in Salem, and Holiday Greetings


Presenting Sponsor for Heritage Hero Program Secured

On the evening of May 20, 2010 at the Tupelo Music Hall in Salisbury, Essex Heritage will stop to honor three individuals who have had a special impact on this region. The Heritage Hero Award that will be celebrated for the third time that evening will honor former Mayors Byron Mathews, Nick Costello and a pioneer who fostered tourism in this region Maria Miles. The event will prove to be a special evening both for the honorees and for those who choose to attend. The program was certainly given a major boost in the last couple of days when the Provident Bank of Amesbury made the decision to become the presenting sponsor for the event.

This is certainly not the first time, nor do I expect that it will be the last time that this premier Community Bank has stepped up to take a leadership role in one of the communities that it serves. Time and time again, Provident Bank of Amesbury has taken a leadership role in events that benefits the area that the bank serves. It doesn’t matter if it is the sponsorship of a visit to the region of a replica sailing ship, a Chamber of Commerce event, a hospital event or a community homecoming event the Provident Bank and its leadership team have always been there when they are needed to help underwrite an event that will be a benefit to the residents of one of the communities it serves. We want to offer our public thanks for the leadership role that they have embarked on once again. Thank you, Provident Bank, and President Charlie Cullen for your commitment. It is appreciated.

North of Boston Visitor Center in Salisbury

A couple of time during the last several weeks we have commented on the real need to find a solution to the recent closing of the Maria Miles Visitor Center in Salisbury. The visitor center that served this region and visitors to the area from the north is critical to the tourist activity in the region. The recent reduction in State funding to the regional tourist councils has been devastating and has caused management of the North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau to take the action to temporarily shut down this welcoming area for all travelers who use Route 95 south as they enter this region. We believe that we viewed some positive news on this front in the last several days, when a newsletter from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation indicated that the State that is the landlord to the operators of the Visitor Center has recognized the importance of the activity to the region. They are now exploring the potential of developing a public-private partnership to help craft a solution for this problem. There are exploratory discussions that will take place with Federal Highway officials to at the very least explore possible solutions in the New Year. Let’s hope that those negotiations can be fruitful and the area Visitor Center in Salisbury can be re-opened before the 2010 visitor season resumes in the late spring of 2010. The entire region will certainly be better served if visitors to the region can be welcomed, directed and provided information about the wonderful destinations that we work with each day as partners of Essex Heritage.

One Last Holiday Concert to Report

Each year on the last Tuesday before Christmas, the Salem Rotary Club has been entertained with a Holiday Concert provided by the talented young men and women from Salem High School. Yesterday was no different as the Salem High School jazz band and the Concert choir came to the Hawthorne Hotel and entertained. Each group offered three holiday selections and as always the performances were superior. There is much talent represented in the two dozen youngsters who came to entertain. The Salem Rotary club has always been a major supporter of public education in this community. Scholarships to college are provided each year to about three to four dozen young Salem residents. In addition to the youngsters from Salem High School, usually there are grants made to students from Salem who attend St John’s Prep, Bishop Fenwick High School the North Shore Vocational school and St, Mary’s in Lynn. If the young men and women who were represented at the concert yesterday are any example, we have a lot to look forward to with our leaders of tomorrow. They certainly left the members of the Salem Rotary club in a positive holiday spirit yesterday as we left the historic Hawthorne Hotel.

Holiday Greetings from Essex Heritage

Since this is the last posting I will offer to the Essex Happenings BLOG before the end of the year holiday season arrives, I want to offer a heartfelt Holiday Greeting to all who might read this message. I offer those greetings on behalf of all of the hard working and conscientious Essex Heritage staff and the volunteer Trustees and Commissioners who offer so much of their valuable time to help preserve and promote the wonderful resources of this region. We hope that the holiday season is peaceful and joyous for all, and that you all enjoy a quiet and restful time with friends and family as 2009 winds to a conclusion. The offices of Essex Heritage will close on Christmas Eve day at noon and will not reopen until the morning of January 4, 2010, so unless something of great importance comes to my attention, this is the last posting that will be offered on this BLOG in 2009. We hope to see you all again in 2010 and at that time as we begin the second decade of this century we can only hope that the world will find peace. Our wish is that in 2010, that the world and the United Sates economy will continue to improve and that many of the ills of the world, like homelessness, hunger and those without jobs will find that their conditions improve, and that the peoples of the world can find a way to live together without war and fear. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please offer you comments in the section at the end of this posting or contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Monday, December 21, 2009

Essex Heritage Byway News, Agricultural Newsletter. Gloucester Ponders School Decision, Award in Danvers, and Salem Calendars


Essex Heritage Scenic Byway Meetings to Continue

Through the months of November and December 2009, Essex Heritage scheduled a first round of meetings about the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway with municipal planners and other interested parties in the thirteen communities where the byway is located. This first round of meetings were very beneficial to the planning firm hired by Essex Heritage, and all of the community activists who have indicated an interest in having input into the process. The meeting allowed Essex Heritage and its planning team the chance to outline the preliminary plans for the existing roadway and to hear from those most impacted by any plans. The information gathered during those meetings is important to the effort, and has been catalogued by the planners for future action. Now just after the start of the New Year and continuing through February a second round of meetings are scheduled. During these sessions more specific information on the process will be outlined and dialog will continue to be certain that the plans for the soon to be identified roadway will reflect the wishes of those most impacted. Essex Heritage will announce the dates for the meetings in early January 2010, and those with an interest in the process will have the opportunity to offer their thoughts to the planning team.

December Northeast Harvest Newsletter Published

Essex Heritage in partnership with Topsfield Fair, Massachusetts Grown and Fresher, and the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture publishes a monthly newsletter the focuses on the farmers of Essex and Middlesex Counties. The December issue of the newsletter has just been distributed and if any of you wish to receive this offering please contact us at to be added to the mailing list. This month the newsletter was pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture had awarded Essex Heritage and its partner the Essex Agricultural Society a $10,000 grant for the purpose of further sustaining the two organizations as they promoted local agriculture, Buy-Local efforts offered through and the corresponding supporting e-newsletter. This grant is certainly appreciated and will allow Essex Heritage to continue its efforts in this area.

The newsletter this month contains information on a local farm from each of the two promoted counties. This month representing Essex County is the Colby Farm on Scotland Road, in Newburyport that is run by Bill and Lisa Colby. That farm that was founded in 1960 and raises poultry and a large herd of Holstein dairy cattle. In addition the Colby’s run a haying operation, a farm stand and raise 300-400 piglets each year. In this edition of the newsletter, Middlesex County is represented by the Spring Brook farm in Littleton, Mass. This operation is run by Frank Matheson and that farm has been providing the surrounding area with vegetables, berries, and cut flowers since the farm has been in existence for almost three centuries. Information in the newsletter this month also includes information about specialty foods found in the region and a recipe for Honey and sage roasted Rack of Pork.

The City of Gloucester Continues to Debate Joining the New Regional Vocational School

The Mayor of the City of Gloucester recently vetoed the decision made by the City Council to join the new school district that will manage the regional Vocational and Technical High School that will be built in Danvers on the campus of the Essex Agricultural School. The Mayor’s decision was based on the inability of that community to afford the costs associated with the new school, and at the same time continue to provide similar educational opportunities in the Gloucester school system. The City Council in a recent vote failed to overturn that veto and so at present the City of Gloucester is not planning to be a member of the new system. The Gloucester City Council that will have several new members in place after the start of the New Year is attempting to prepare information that will allow that body to consider a vote to over turn the Mayor’s decision. The Mayors decision is easy to understand as it is based on the availability of funding to support entry into the new school district and to continue some vocational programs in the city school system. It is certain that in light of the changing conditions in the fishing industry that the City of Gloucester would be well served to participate in the new school district that will be able to provide top notch training to both present and future students from Gloucester. Essex Heritage that has long supported the regional aspect of this new facility is certainly hopeful that officials from Gloucester can come to some agreement on this issue. In these times participation by local communities in regional initiatives is critical as scarce resources in all municipalities can be extended by participation with others in the region.

Local Danvers Businessman Receives Commendation

Over this past weekend, a local veterans group representing American Legion Post # 180 in Danvers announced that they were providing their first ever Annual Americanism Award to local restaurant and deli owner Kary Andrinopoulos. The award was provided due in part to the way Kary embraces patriotism in the popular restaurant he owns with his partner in downtown Danvers. Each year on September 11th, Brothers Restaurant in Danvers has offered a tribute to those that lost their lives on that fateful day in 2001. This is a wonderful tribute that was paid to this former resident of Greece, who is now a proud American Citizen. My family and I are regular patrons of Brother’s Restaurant and just about a month ago, I was privileged to act as a celebrity server at lunch one day, as Brother’s celebrated its 10th anniversary in Danvers. I am pleased for Kary as he certainly deserves the award he was provided, and am proud to be able to call him a friend as well.

Salem Rotary Club Selling Calendars

For the past 15 years, I have been an active member of the Salem Rotary Club. The club supports many wonderful charitable endeavors, but the best one of all is its scholarship program that provides financial support for young men and woman from Salem as they move from High School to College. To support this program, the club sells calendars each year that not only depict historic scenes from Salem’s past, but also provides the purchaser the chance to win one of 52 annual drawings of $100 each. The calendars are now available from Salem Rotary members and also at a number of retail outlets in Salem. Look for them as they serve a wonderful purpose as they help fund one of the financially generous programs for scholarships that I have ever seen.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please offer you comments in the section at the end of this posting or contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Friday, December 18, 2009

Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program Reinstated, Essex LINKS in Haverhill, National Honors for Man with Local Ties



In the earliest days of Essex Heritage certainly one of the most popular and beneficial programs that was offered was the Partnership Grant Program. The $1.5 million that was provided in grants to nearly 200 local municipalities and not-for-profit organizations was a boon to the region and had an impact on preservation work in the region. The funding that was provided resulted in another $5.0 million in additional investments that was added to those projects that helped boost the regional economy even higher. Grants were provided in every one of the thirty-four communities that make up the Essex National Heritage Area. When Essex Heritage was forced to put the program “on hold” during 2009 due to budget cuts and other limitations it was a painful decision, as we realize the importance of the program to the region. We are now pleased that in 2010 we will be able to offer a slightly curtailed grant program to the region The program for 2010 will not be as expansive as it has been in the past, but it will be coming back and that is indeed good news for those who will receive a grant from Essex Heritage in 2010.

The grant program that Essex Heritage is about to announce for 2010 has been adjusted a bit as the amount of grant money available is less than in the past, but from a positive standpoint the application process has been streamlined. The grant program in 2010 will total $25, 000 and will be allocated in 10 grants of $2,500 each. Preliminary pre-applications will be accepted as an ON-LINE application only. A $20.00 application fee must accompany the ON-LINE application. The ON-LINE pre-application that will be more concise than in the past will then, be evaluated and from those a select number of applicants will be invited to offer a more complete application that must be accompanied by more complete exhibits to support the submitted application. We must make it clear that “making the first cut” in the application process will not assure that a grant will be provided. A select committee organized by Essex Heritage will evaluate those applications that are submitted in phase ll of the process and the ten projects that are selected will then be offered funding.

The On-LINE application web site is expected to be available shortly after the first business day of the New Year, and the ON-LINE application process will close on February 12, 2010. The ON-LINE site will also contain additional detailed information regarding other criteria relative to the application process. In early March 2010 the invited applicants will learn if they can submit full applications, and in early May the final grant awards will be announced. In this program, Essex Heritage will entertain projects which:

  • Create or further develop educational opportunities for youth
  • Increase awareness and understanding of the region’s heritage
  • Preserve and enhance historic structures, landscapes, and cultural resources

We look forward to implementing this program once again, and understand how important it can be to the region. If there any that have questions about any phase of this program contact Essex Heritage’s Director of Development, Bill Steelman at 978 740 0444 or contact him at


Essex Heritage has maintained a relationship with the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill for many years. That location has served as one of the regional group of Visitor Centers connected with our organization. On Thursday, December 17, 2009 that location acted as a host facility for an Essex LINCS teacher workshop. The theme of the workshop was “Working in Essex County and the United States”. After a series of morning lectures by Salem State staff, a shoemaker from the area provided a demonstration of early American shoemaking using 19th century tools and skills .In addition to the lectures, Historical Society staff from the Museum provided a tour of the museum that included a visit to a “ten footer’ shoe shop on the site. Attendance at the seminar was excellent, and of the twenty-five teachers at the seminar, six were from Haverhill and the rest were from the northern end of Essex County. There is a main lesson plan offered to the attending teachers and those plans along with exhibits are then used to convey this part of the heritage of this region to their students. The LINCS program has been a wonderful addition to the work of Essex Heritage and we certainly appreciate the work done in the region by all connected with this initiative. We particularly want to thank, Rebecca Zimmerman who coordinates this effort for Essex Heritage.


Almost from the first days of Essex Heritage there has been a strong connection to the preservation and care of historic records. We became involved in those issues after a volunteer at the Gloucester Public Library brought to our attention some substantial damage that had been done to dated historic records from a flood that occurred in the basement of Gloucester City Hall. From that experience, Essex Heritage established the all-volunteer Historic Records Council. That organization acted as an arm of Essex Heritage until it was “spun off” to become a “stand alone” group that still meets now to discuss needs in that area. That group established a strong connection to the National Archives and Records facility locally. We were very pleased to see that David Ferriero a former resident of Beverly and a graduate of Beverly High School has been named the Archivist of the United States, This is a wonderful appointment, and Essex Heritage is pleased to see a gentleman with local ties to this region playing a leadership role in a Government organization that has such a strong link to Essex Heritage.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Esssex Heritage Announces Heritage Hero's for 2019, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem Holds Annual Meeting


Essex Heritage Announces Heritage Hero Nominees

Two years ago, Essex Heritage in conjunction with the National Park Service initiated the Heritage Hero Award program. The first two winners of this now prestigious regional award were James McAlister, a Salem based historian and author and Thomas Costin, a former City of Lynn Mayor and noted community activist. Both of the events were held in Salem at the historic Hawthorne Hotel, and were social and financial successes. It is certainly important for us to note the wonderful participation and generosity of the Hawthorne Hotel management. We fully expect that in the future, the Heritage Hero event will once again return to the Hawthorne Hotel, as they have been such wonderful supporters of the Essex Heritage mission. Now to begin a new decade the event scheduled for May 20, 2010 will be held at the new Tupelo Music Hall in Salisbury. The choice of this location in the heart of the northeast corner of the region Essex heritage serves is due in part to the residency of the honorees, but this new facility in Salisbury is reason enough to hold the event at that location.

In 2010, Essex Heritage and the National Park Service have decided to honor three most deserving individuals from the communities of Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury. The very worthy nominees who will be honored are the former long time Chairman of the North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau and Salisbury promoter extraordinaire, Maria Miles and former Mayors and past and present Community Leaders of Amesbury and Newburyport Nick Costello and Byron Matthews. There is little chance that Essex Heritage could have a found a more deserving trio to honor than these three individuals. All three honorees have done extraordinary things for their “hometowns” and in addition all of them have been wonderful contributors to the success of the mission of the Essex National Heritage Commission.

All three honorees have been associated with Essex Heritage from the inception of this regional initiative, In fact their activities can be traced back to the time when the Commission was just being organized, and the support that they offered then was instrumental in both the short and long term success of this movement. It is certainly clear that as one looks at the three town region that makes up this section of the region that it would be impossible to find any more deserving candidates then we have identified. The event that will be held in Salisbury will be offered in one of the newest and most exciting venues in the entire region and the Tupelo Music Hall facility is almost reason enough to attend the function, but the work and the commitment of these three individuals supersedes all else.

The support offered Essex Heritage already is testament to the esteem that the three honorees are held in, as even at this early date we have already received a commitment as the Presenting Sponsor of the event from Provident Bank, headquartered in Amesbury an we also expect commitments before the end of the year from several other financial institutions and businesses in the tri town area. In addition to the sponsorship commitments, Essex Heritage is most pleased at the wonderful list being developed that has agreed to serve on the Honorary Committee for this event. The list of participants will certainly include a wide range of individuals that will truly represent the region where our honorees reside. Plans are already being developed to make the event a truly memorable one for the honorees, their families and the participants who will certainly enjoy the presentations that will both highlight the honorees but will also shine a spotlight on Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury. In the near term, more and more information about this event will be released to the public, and additional sponsorship opportunities will be offered. Information on ticket purchases and how tables for the event can be reserved will also be made available.

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem Holds Annual Meeting

On Tuesday morning, December 15th, I attended the annual meeting of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem held at the clubs facility on Hawthorne Boulevard in Salem. At this meeting of the club that currently serves 1100 youth between to ages of 5 and 18, Sumner Jones of Eastern Bank finished his term as club president and was succeeded by Frederick “Trip” Mason of F.D. Mason Company Both Sumner and “Trip” also serve in leadership roles at Essex Heritage, so their influence goes beyond the borders of Salem, I am pleased that I have also served the club for a number of years, and have agreed to rejoin the active board in 2010 after serving on the Advisory Board for the last several years. The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, led by Executive Director Joanne Scott, plays an important role in the life of youth in this region and also serves constituents at a school in the City of Peabody. In addition to the daily recreational programs, day care and vacation time camps are provided to assist the parents of club members who in most cases are both working. The Salem club has always received wonderful community support and this year is no different with toys and financial support for the club members coming from collections made by the students at St John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, and from a local running club, the Salem Wicked Running Club and from a Salem dentist, Dr. Kevin Kalaher. The club members were also provided a Thanksgiving meal through the generosity of the leadership of North Shore International Insurance Co. In the near future the club will also benefit from relationships with Salem State College at both the Bertolon School of Business and from the Athletic Department of the school. The work of the club is certainly most worthwhile and support of this organization is encouraged.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please offer you comments in the section at the end of this posting or contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Monday, December 14, 2009

Essex Heritage Easement Committee, Vocational Technical Funding Assured, Salem Award Funding Provided, Essex Heritage Regional City Hall Grants

MONDAY, December 14, 2009

Essex Heritage Organizes a Preservation Restriction Easement Committee

Over the last several months a group a committed Trustees and Commissioners of the Essex National Heritage Commission have been meeting to consider the terms under which, Essex Heritage would accept a Preservation Restriction Easement to protect and preserve the facade of a series of rehabilitated apartment buildings in Lynn. With the final acceptance of the preservation easement, Essex Heritage will take on certain responsibilities to insure that the building’s façade remains without changes that would affect its present status. The Commission will be compensated for this action and the funding received will assist the Commission in its efforts to support its other preservation, education and trail programs that have become so important to the entire region. Plans have been made to insure that the façade of the Lynn buildings stays intact and annual inspections of the property will be undertaken by a professional employed by the Commission. The legal work to prepare the easement that will be offered and ultimately accepted by the Commission must be completed before the end of this calendar year, and the documents supporting the action must also be approved by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the City of Lynn. We certainly appreciate the work being done by the members of the Essex Heritage Committee, as there has been a substantial amount of work already accomplished by this group with several more steps to be accomplished before the deeds are finalized and recorded. This is the first such deed accepted by Essex Heritage and there is a strong possibility the in the future similar actions may be undertaken by Essex Heritage to insure that historic building facades in the region are preserved.

Governor Confirms Support of Vocational School

Last Friday, Governor Deval Patrick and Lt. Governor Murray made an appearance at the North Shore Vocational Technical School in Middleton to confirm the Commonwealth’s financial support for the new North Shore Regional Vocational and Technical School planned to be built in Danvers. The financial support that will be offered by the State is a critical component of the new school’s financing package and without that support that project would nit be possible. During the last several weeks a number of communities in the region have voted their support of the new school and those local votes put the support needed locally “over the top”. Votes of support in Peabody, Gloucester, Salem and Beverly when added to support previously offered by the Town of Danvers confirmed that enough local communities have agreed to join the new school district to insure that construction of the new facility can begin to be planned. Essex Heritage was one of the first regional organizations to offer its support to this effort and is pleased to see that the program can now move forward. There are still a number of smaller communities that still need to vote to participate, but the support in hand now insures that the project can move to a successful conclusion. There is still some concern that the City of Gloucester may move to change its vote, but even with that issue the next steps in the planning process for the school can still begin. This new facility when built will certainly be a boon to the region and Essex Heritage looks forward to the time when it can structure an ongoing program with the new school to offer participating students from all over the region, opportunities in the preservation process in this region.

City of Salem Initiative to Support Salem Award

In 2001, the City, Salem and State College, working in conjunction with the National Park Service, local museums and the business community established a foundation to help perpetuate the Salem award. I am pleased to be a part of the Committee that has helped to promote this event for many years. The award was first provided in 1992 to commemorate the work of the Salem Witch Trail Tercentenary Committee to promote understanding of the lessons of the Salem Witch Trials. From that initial effort, the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice Foundation was founded in 2001 to continue the work started in 1992. This award is provided annually to recognize and honor present day champions of human rights and social justice.

This year the City of Salem has raised close to $5000 to support the Salem award, and that work is still ongoing. Earlier this year, Mayor Driscoll requested that the Salem City Council establish a revolving fund to collect a 25 cent surcharge on tickets sold at the City owned Witch House. All of the monies collected for this surcharge has been dedicated to help defray costs associated with the granting of the annual award, and to also provide support to the upkeep of the Salem Witch Trial Memorial. This has been a wonderful effort launched with the cooperation of the City of Salem Recreation Department and the work goes on and more money will be collected in the future to help support this important regional project.

Two Local Community Municipal Buildings Supported by Essex Heritage Grants

At this mornings Essex Heritage staff meeting, it was pointed out that a recent municipal improvement project supported by a grant from Essex Heritage is now complete. Pictures of the recently installed well crafted wooden windows installed at the Peabody City Hall were provided, and that installation is certainly a wonderful addition to a historic old municipal building. Just a couple of miles away, the oldest municipally owned building in the Town of Danvers is also undergoing a spectacular overhaul, and that building also benefited from a grant that has been provided by Essex Heritage. That work, although suffering a small setback by a fire in the attic space of the building will be complete and the building ready for re-occupancy in the spring of 2010. Essex Heritage is most proud of the support that they have been able to provide to these two communities, and recalls several other grants over the years that provided resources to the rehabilitation of other primary community municipal buildings in Salem, Salisbury and Saugus.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please offer you comments in the section at the end of this posting or contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Friday, December 11, 2009

Value of Planning for Essex Heritage, Bike Path Activity in Danvers, Community Financial Planning, Friendship to Sail in 2010


Value of organizational Planning

As I have noted in the recent past, Essex Heritage is currently performing a self-evaluation of all aspects of our operation in order to complete a strategic plan for the organization for the years ahead. Those discussions have been very valuable, and many members of our Board of Trustees have offered valuable advice, and have helped us to accomplish this task. During a recent session, we came to the conclusion that in the last decade or so, Essex Heritage has identified many wonderful assets that exist in this region and then created or designed programs that effectively shines a new light on those assets. One of the most noticeable assets that we have identified in the region, are the old rail lines that are now no longer in use, and that in the future can be put to new, and in today’s world better uses. Certainly in the future these former transportation assets can once again become as important as they once were, as bike and pedestrian trails and many of these are showing up all over the county on those old rights of way.

One of the programs that Essex Heritage has supported almost from the start of this initiative is how these rights of way could be better used to support active bike trails that can be used for both recreation and in many ways as alternative methods of transportation. We certainly do not or will not take credit as the only resource in the region who identified bike programs as important to the future, but it was one of those assets that we helped shine a light on, and pointed out their value to the region.

We are comfortable in knowing that our advocacy, and our effort to act as a convener of other resources has helped develop this reuse of a wonderful asset as a exciting new regional program. In dozens of communities within the region we serve planning for implementation and in many cases actual construction of bike and pedestrian trails have occurred. We expect that as the Border to Boston Trail moves forward, and Bike path planning in communities like Haverhill, Danvers and Peabody continues to advance, we will see even more successes. We are willing to take credit for at least helping to plant the seed of this idea, whose time we believe has arrived.

Related Bike Path Program in Danvers

In the Town of Danvers that is anticipated to be the southern gateway to the Border to Boston trail that will travel north to Salisbury two organizations are actively involved in trail planning in that community. The recently appointed, Town managed Rail Trail Advisory Committee has been formed and is organized and is holding regular meetings that like all town committee meetings, they are open to the public. The next meeting of that group if one wanted to attend is scheduled for December 16, 2009 at the Danvers Senior Center on Stone Street at 6:00 pm. The advisory committee at its last meeting elected a chairperson, Charles Lincicum and is supported by the Town of Danvers Senior Planner Kate Day, who can be reached at 978 777-0001 Ext 3029.

In addition to the town managed group, the Danvers Bi-Peds a group of Danvers residents interested in the progress of bicycling in Danvers continue to meet and plan for the future. This group of Danvers residents has organized a Holiday Hike along part of the proposed rail trail that will take place (weather permitting) on December 12, 2009 at 1:30 pm. The hike will start in the Hobart Street parking lot in Danvers and will travel down the rail bed to Tapley Playground. Footwear for snowy and rough conditions is recommended. For more information about this activity contact the Bi-Peds at 978 777-4661

Finance Committees All Over the Regions Coping with Changes.

On Wednesday evening in preparation for yet another Town Meeting in Danvers the Finance committee, that I serve on met to approve a number of transfers and re-allocations to bring the Town budget into balance. I suspect that this is an activity that is happening at other Town Meetings and City Council meetings in communities all over the region as political bodies are coping with decreasing revenues brought on by worsening economic conditions and state revenue sharing cuts to local governments. Danvers and other communities in this region for the most part are finding ways to make ends meet, but there are exceptions. The recent news relative the financial crisis in the City of Lawrence was bleak with revenues far short of what is needed to continue to effectively manage that community. It appears that the management of that city may have to fall to the State of Massachusetts, as they may have to step in to help Lawrence. This situation could become most serous as such a large portion of this community is made up of new immigrant families and in many cases those families require a level of continuing support that can be most costly.

News on the Friendship

As reported in this space not long ago, it is a wonderful to see the National Park Service’s replica sailing ship back in her homeport in Salem. The work that was done in Maine this past summer a fall put her in wonderful shape again and there was a big task accomplished while she was being repaired. Sometime in 2010 the Friendship will complete a series of sea trials that will allow her to receive certification to sail and take on passengers. Up to this point the only folks allowed to participate in sailing experiences on the Friendship were crewmembers. Starting sometime in 2010 passengers will be allowed to travel and enjoy the pleasures of a sea trip under full sail on the regions waters. Essex heritage is working with the National Pak Service to plan at least one such trip in the summer of 2010. If that kind of adventure is appealing to you, stay tuned for more information early in 2010.

New Football Coach With Local Ties Named at Notre Dame

This morning’s news that the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana has named a new football coach has some a local tie. The new coach, Brian Kelly who ran a successful program at the University of Cincinnati for the last few years grew up in Chelsea Massachusetts and is a graduate of St. John’s Prep in Danvers. We wish him well in this daunting task to restore Notre Dame football to its former glory.

As always we welcome your comments and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact us at with your thoughts. Tom Leonard

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Essex Heritage Trustee Named, NBCVB Visitor Center Update, New State BLOG Site, Bishop Fenwick HS Clebrates an Anniversary


New Essex Heritage Trustee Elected at Recent Trustee Meeting

On Tuesday, December 8, 2009, the Board of Trustees of Essex Heritage elected a new Trustee to fill an unexpired term of a Trustee who due to personal reasons had to move from this region. Essex Heritage was only able to receive support for a short time from Jeff Korzinik formally of Marblehead who has since relocated to Chicago. We appreciate the short but superior service provided by Jeff to Essex Heritage and wish him well in his new endeavor.

Essex Heritage is most fortunate to be able to fill the vacant seat on the Board of Trustees with a wonderful replacement. The Board of Trustees yesterday unanimously elected Mr. Charles Cullen, the President and CEO of Provident Bank with headquarters in Amesbury, and the choice is an excellent one. Mr. Cullen has a long history with Essex Heritage as he has been a supporter of virtually all of the Commission’s efforts to promote this region. In 2007 when the National Park Service’s replica sailing ship, Friendship made a celebratory visit to the historic port of Newburyport, Provident Bank and Charlie Cullen were among the leadership of that region who financially supported the visit that benefited the many bank customers he served in that community. Provident Bank is a Mutual Savings Bank with 6 offices including the main office in Amesbury and serves the northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire area. The bank is one of the oldest community banks in the region having been incorporated in 1828, and is very active in community affairs in the region that it serves. Mr. Cullen has served on many community boards in the region and he is currently a member of the Board of Trustees and Past President of the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and also serves on the Board of Trustees of Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport. Essex Heritage is truly fortunate to be able to add Charlie Cullen to its Board of Trustees,

North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau Welcoming Center

Several days ago, we reported that due to State budget cuts, the North of Boston Convention and Visitor bureau Maria Miles Visitor Center located on Route 95 in Salisbury was closing. I am pleased to report today that after speaking to Essex Heritage Trustee and Visitor Center manager, Bill Pickles at a recent meeting that plans to open the visitor center at least on weekends seems imminent. The center that is connected to the regional network of Essex Heritage visitor centers is a critical one in the regional chain as its location in Salisbury on US Route 95 south makes it the first stop as visitors to this part of the State enter from the north. The Visitor Center is critical as it has long provided information, brochures and a rest stop for visitors to Massachusetts and the Essex Heritage region as tourists arrive from New Hampshire, Maine and from our neighbor the north, Canada. It is anticipated that the center will open more and more as the tourist season swings into spring and beyond as the North Shore Convention and Visitor Bureau that manages the facility is working diligently to find additional resources to provide more and more services in the future. Essex Heritage certainly recognizes the importance of this visitor center to the tourist industry in this region and encourages anyone with any ideas of how “to open any doors to additional resources” should contact the Convention and Visitor Bureau at their main office in Peabody.

New BLOG Site Offered by MDAR

We recently received information from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts about a BLOG site that they are now offering. The site is called ‘The Great Outdoors” and it can be accessed at www.mass, The site will contain posts from staff representing the Department of Agricultural Resources, Conservation and Recreation, and Fish and Game who are all experts in Massachusetts grown food, wildlife biology, wetland restoration and outdoor sports and activities. This will be wonderful site to visit from time to time where you can learn from the experts and get information on all things that are “outdoors” as far as the Commonwealth is concerned, Bookmark the site as noted in this report and look in from time to time on this informative site.

Bishop Fenwick High School celebrating its Golden Anniversary

I spent the last four years as a member of the Board of Trustees of one of the finest independent, private secondary catholic school in the area, and am pleased to note that in 2009-2010 they are celebrating their 50th anniversary. During my tenure on the board, I learned just what a capable institution Bishop Fenwick is, and what a wonderful resource they are to many in this region. The school was opened in 1959 and has graduated thousands of young men and woman who have gone on to gain additional education at local and regional Colleges and Universities and then have assumed a leadership role in many of the businesses and communities in this region. The school has organized a series of events over the present school year to help bring attention to their celebration, and I encourage past graduates, and residents of the region who sent their children to the school to visit the school web site at to look over the list of celebratory events to see how you might be able to participate this year. Most of the events are being held on the Peabody campus, but there will be a gala dinner dance at the Danversport Yacht Club and a golf tournament at Turner Hill in Ipswich both scheduled for spring 2010.

One Holiday Event to Report

On December 19th the Town of Nahant will hold its fourteenth annual Santa Parade. The parade will form up in the head of the Nahant Causeway and will proceed from there into the Town. There will be a pre-parade fundraiser at the Tides Restaurant to help defray some of the expenses connected with organizing this celebration. At this late date, this may be one of the last times to see Santa before he starts his trek from the North Pole on December 24th.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please use the comment section at the end of this report or contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Monday, December 7, 2009

Regional Meeting Set, Community Parkland Grants Provided, NS Vocational Technical project Advances, Gloucester HS win Super Bowk Title

MONDAY, December 7, 2009

Regional Breakfast Meeting Set for January 25, 2010

We recently provided information in this space about a regional meeting we were planning with the area municipal leadership, the Massachusetts legislative body that represents this region and the members of the board of Trustees of Essex Heritage. We have now finalized the details of that meeting and are pleased to announce that Salem Five Bank has agreed to be the Presenting Sponsor of the breakfast. We are gratified that the bank that was one of the original supporters of the mission of Essex Heritage over a decade ago, has agreed to play a leadership role in this important regional meeting. Notices of the meeting have now been sent to the invitees and Essex Heritage is looking forward to the opportunity to offer a forum for continuing regional dialog and problem solving. It is very clear that these are difficult times for many communities in the region served by the Essex National Heritage Commission and anything that we can do to offer opportunities for regional leadership to gather together to learn of our ongoing projects and to join together to explore solutions to regional challenges is time well spent.

Congressman John Tierney, who has continued to offered his valuable support to the work of Essex heritage has also agreed to offer a presentation at the breakfast, that will focus specifically on how Essex Heritage’s strategic initiatives can help drive regional collaboration and economic opportunity for the entire region. We are pleased that the Congressman will be taking time from his busy schedule in Washington in these tumultuous times in our capitol city to be with us. His schedule is always in flux and never more so then right now, but baring an early morning congressional vote on January 25th he will be attending our meeting that morning.

Essex Heritage and our senior partner the National Park Service is pleased to be able to offer this regional forum on January 25, 2010 at the Marriot Hotel in Centennial Park in Peabody from 7:30 am until 9:00 am and encourage all of the invitees to respond to our invitation as soon as possible. Please contact Emily Levin at 978 740 0444 or at to confirm your attendance which is most important to us...

Local Communities Receive State Park Grants

Several Essex Heritage Community partners recently were advised of wonderful news by the Commonwealth. The Cities of Haverhill, Lawrence, Lynn, and Peabody were among twenty-two Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations Grants recently announced by the Commonwealth. One of the biggest winners was the City of Lynn that received a grant for almost one million dollars for two projects. The city received $500,000 to rebuild stairs and walkways to the wonderful High Rock Observation Tower. The observation Tower is located on one the highest spot in the region and the views offered from the site are astounding. The work that will be accomplished with this grant will help open the site to so many more residents. The city also received a second grant in the amount of $490,000 for the makeover of Flax Pond Park. These grants are great news for the City of Lynn and the recreational area affected will provide new opportunities for the residents of Lynn and neighboring communities to view this region from a different perspective,

The City of Peabody received $329,417 in grant money for the construction of an entry plaza, paths, benches and picnic tables at Walnut Street Park, a reclaimed brownfields industrial site. The City of Lawrence received funding in the amount of $424,920 for two projects including a neighborhood Community garden project which calls for the use of formally vacant lots to be used as community gardens and also received funds to install lights at a youth baseball park and to make improvements at Howard Playstead, one of the city’s oldest parks. The City of Haverhill received $282,064 in a parkland grant to support its “Return to Relevance” initiative adding boat landings, gangplanks from the downtown board walk to the boat docks on the Merrimack River and several waterless handicap accessible bathrooms

North Shore Vocational Technical School District Close to Approval

In the last week or so several communities took or will take votes that put the creation of a new Regional North Shore Vocational Technical school closer to reality. This project that has been established as a major priority of this region was established as a primary priority of several regional organizations, including Essex Heritage that became an early supporter of the project. In Gloucester the city Council in an important vote agreed to join the new district. This is a change from some of the thinking that Gloucester might not act positively at this time. The Mayor of Gloucester is still contemplating a veto of the vote by the council so the final tale on that community’s decision is not yet told. One can easily understand the Mayor’s reluctance to commit to a new financial obligation with all of the financial obligations that community is facing in the near term. The Cities of Salem and Beverly both have votes scheduled this week before the December 15th deadline imposed on the region by the funding commitment from the Commonwealth. These two votes will be important milestones in the process of approval. It certainly appears that this project so important to this region is becoming closer to attaining critical mass and final approval.

Congratulations to the Gloucester “Fishermen” on Their Super Bowl Win
Late last Saturday night in the middle of an early season snow storm the team from Gloucester High School was the only team from Essex County to emerge victorious in the MIAA final Super Bowl contests. They became the Division 1A champion with a convincing victory. We also extend our congratulations to both Marblehead and Masconomet High Schools for their runner up status and their wonderful effort last Saturday in less than ideal conditions at Gillette Stadium. All three Essex County community schools certainly did this region proud this past weekend.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. At the end of the posting there are options for comments and we encourage your thoughts, or you can always contact me with your comments, or suggestions at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Friday, December 4, 2009

Moak in New Job, Essex Heritage Explorers, holiday Events, Celebrity Server



It was announced in the local newspapers this morning that outgoing Newburyport Mayor John Moak has been named the Board of Selectman’s choice to become the next Town Administrator of the Town of Pepperell. Negotiations will begin immediately and the Town hopes to have their new Administrator in place by early next year. Moak decided not to stand for re-election in Newburyport and former City Councilor Donna Holaday will fill that position in January. I report this information, as during Mayor Moak’s time in office as the Mayor of Newburyport, he was a good friend of Essex Heritage. In the summer of 2007, Essex Heritage and the National Park Service organized a visit by the replica sailing ship. Friendship to that historic port city, and the trip would not have been possible without the support and commitment of Mayor Moak. That visit made in conjunction with the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and with the support of several local banking institutions was a wonderful success and the visit was going to be replicated in the summer of 2009, until a substantial repair project had to be undertaken on Friendship. Essex Heritage truly enjoyed working with John Moak during his tenure in office, and we certainly wish him well in his new position in Pepperell. We are certain that he will provide the same level of commitment to his new position that he provided to the City of Newburyport during his time leading that community.


One of the most participatory and highly valued programs offered by Essex Heritage is the Explorers Program. This is an initiative that truly reached out to the residents of this region. Each quarter a new theme is established and then three events are structured that allows participants the opportunity to “go behind the scenes” and gain access to a site or a home or an exhibit not generally available to the general public. The program has been in place now for several years and many of the 300 members of the group are charter members, who faithfully renew their commitment to membership. That annual renewal helps support he program, but more importantly provides broad financial support to enhance the work of Essex Heritage.

This quarter’s theme is the material culture of this region, and visits are planned to the Leather Workers Museum in Peabody, the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, and the Lynn Museum and Historical Society. Each of the three visits is unique and different from one another. The visits are usually limited to about 30 Explorers and meaningful commentary about the site and the event is always one of the highlights of the visits. Planning for the next quarter is already underway, and as the weather gets a little more temperate the visits can include some outdoor experiences and the theme will be the rivers of Essex County. Elizabeth Rankin is the manager of this program, and I say without any question, Elizabeth treats every one of “Her Explorers” like there were her best friends or neighbors, Come and enjoy one of these events, and you will become a regular and look forward from event to event to learn a little bit more about the region we all call home.

If you need more information about this program or want to sign up as an Explorer visit www.essexheritage,org. The time that you commit to research on this program will be well spent, and if you join the Essex Heritage Explorers you will find the time spent enjoying the program even more satisfying.


As we get closer to the Holiday Season there are more and more events that are worth noting and pointing them out here might help the organizers insure that their efforts are fruitful.

  • This weekend, Historic Salem will be holding their annual historic house tour. This year this popular event will focus on homes in the historic Salem Common area. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at several downtown Salem businesses, or they can be purchased on line at This is spectacular event that I have attended in past years, and all of the proceeds from the event are used to pursue the preservation initiatives of Historic Salem.
  • On Saturday, December 5, 2009 the hard-working women of the Danvers Garden Club will hold a greens sale at the Barn at Endicott Park in Danvers. The sale that will include wreaths, boxwood trees, kissing balls, and holiday arrangements will be held from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm. Refreshments and baked goods will also be available and all of the profits from the sale will be used to advance the many programs of the Danvers Garden Club that includes visits to local nursing homes, seasonal decorations across the town and the maintenance of a garden at Hospice House in Danvers.


Today, after an earlier cancelled date, I took my place behind the counter at Brother’s Restaurant and Deli as a celebrity server. It was a great experience and I enjoyed meeting many of the most faithful customers of the popular downtown eatery. I was also pleased to see many of my friends and staff associates from Essex Heritage who came to see if I preformed without dropping or spilling the wonderful food I was expected to deliver. If that was their expectation, I managed to deliver all of the food without mishap. We passed out material highlighting the work of Essex Heritage and hopefully made some new friends for Essex Heritage. All in all, everything went well, and all of the staff at Brother’s made me feel right at home. They even offered to add me to their emergency staff list that they call at 4:00 am when a regular calls in ill. I thanked them for their confidence, but said I would pass on being added to their sub list.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Regional Meeting, Whittier Bridge, Brother's, High School Super Bowl, Essex Heritage Annual Fund


Essex Heritage Announces January Meeting with Mayors, Managers and Area Legislators

In the next week or so, Essex Heritage along with its senior partner, the National Park Service, will be sending invitations to all of the area Mayors, Town Administrators and State elected officials to come together to continue dialog on issues affecting this region. The breakfast meeting scheduled at the Marriott Hotel in Peabody in late January 2010 will feature a presentation from Congressman John F. Tierney, who will provide an overview from Washington, and will also comment on the continuing work of Essex Heritage as a convener, collaborator and an organizer of projects in this region. At the meeting, plans for 2010 and beyond for the Commission will be unveiled, and input from area legislative and municipal leadership will be sought. Members of the Essex Heritage Board of Trustees and Trustee Emeritus will also be in attendance at the breakfast meeting, so in that way a continuing discussion of matters of importance to the entire region can be continued. Salem Five Bank has agreed to offer sponsorship of this important regional event, and their participation is welcomed.

Essex Heritage Supports the Whittier Bridge Replacement Project on Route 95

On December 7, 2009, a public hearing has been scheduled at the Salisbury Town Hall to allow public comment on a significant public works project that will certainly impact the residents of Amesbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury. As with all public projects we encourage interested residents from the region to attend the meeting and voice your thoughts on this project. The Whittier Bridge /I95 improvement project and the planning and progress on that project will be open for discussion at that time. The work that will be accomplished to complete this project and the potential and the opportunities for the region will all be a matter of public interest. Essex Heritage is certainly interested in the project and the impact on the region as planning and construction proceeds, but the Commission has an even greater interest in seeing that the projects current lack of bicycle and pedestrian accommodations is addressed. Essex Heritage through its longtime support and leadership of the Coastal Trails Coalition and the Border to Boston Rail Trail project has and will continue to play an important role in the development of alternative transportation programs in this region. Essex Heritage, Director of Heritage Development, Bill Steelman, serves as the President of the Coastal Trails Coalition, and manages the regional coalition that is helping to develop the Border to Boston effort for this region.

This is a wonderful project for this region, and the commitment of $285 million and the job opportunities that will be created as the bridge replacement and attendant road upgrades takes place in the region will be a boon to the local economy and we are most supportive of the project. We encourage the planning organizations that are managing this project to consider the bicycle and pedestrian needs that can be associated with this project, as they also can be a boon to the local economy.

Guest Server Tomorrow at Noon at Brother’s in Danvers

At noon tomorrow, I am going to be at Brother’s Restaurant and Deli in downtown Danvers as the lunchtime Guest Server. Brother’s is a wonderful place to enjoy a lunch, and I look forward to meeting and greeting new and old friends alike from noon until 1:30 p.m. Others from the Essex Heritage staff will also be with me to answer any questions you might have about the work of Essex Heritage. Come and visit with us and at the same time, enjoy a wonderful lunch.

Congratulations to Local High School Football Programs

Last night at several locations around the region, three area high schools won contests that will send them to the State Football Super Bowl games on Saturday, December 5, 2009. Gloucester High School, Marblehead High School, and Masconomet Regional High School will all represent the region this weekend. We congratulate them on their success to date and wish all of the participants and their followers well this weekend.

Essex Heritage Annual Fund Continues

If you believe that the partnerships that Essex Heritage has developed over the years that have helped bring the region together and the programs that have been created that helps focus attention on all that the region has to offer are positive events, then you might want to offer your financial support. The Essex Heritage Commission began life over a decade ago, and was originally funded almost totally by a congressional allotment offered through the National Park Service. Over the years, the federal funding commitment has been steadily reduced as more and more Heritage Areas have been created across the country. That is a positive sign that more and more regions of this country are now experiencing what the residents of this region have been enjoying for the last decade. The reduced federal funding commitment has allowed Essex Heritage to “reach out” to more and more resources for continuing support. For a time until the current fiscal crisis hit the Commonwealth of Massachusetts hard we were making up for some of the lost federal funding with financial support from the State, but at least for now, that funding has disappeared. Many wonderful corporations and small businesses in the region have offered continuing support to this effort, and we annually receive meaningful financial support from residents from nearly every one of the thirty-four communities that we swerve. If you want to be among the residents that support this effort with financial support we would welcome those contributions. Right now as 2009 comes to an end, Essex Heritage is currently conducting its Annual Appeal for funding. If you wanted to offer your support so that our efforts can continue uninterrupted please consider a financial gift today. On the Essex Heritage web site at it is easy to offer support, and we thank you in advance for even considering supporting this program.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard