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Historic Newton raises $5.9 million

Posted by Laura Gomez  January 28, 2013 02:56 PM

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Historic Newton─ a partnership of the Newton Historical Society and City of Newton─ has completed its first capital campaign ever, raising $5.9 million to transform the historic 1734 Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds on Waverley Avenue to a vibrant education center and to begin improvements to the Jackson Homestead and Museum, according to a press release.

The project includes restoration of the colonial Durant-Kenrick home, construction of an educational center/classroom, development of innovative hands-on exhibits and audio installations, and an endowment to support on-going operations.

One of the oldest houses in Newton, the Durant-Kenrick House, located at 286 Waverley Avenue at Kenrick Street, was the long-time residence of the Durant family whose members served on the Committee of Correspondence, marched against the British at Lexington and Concord, owned slaves, and worked a huge farm on what is now called Farlow Hill.

Throughout much of the 1800s, it was the home of the Kenrick family, who created one of the earliest and largest commercial nursery operations in New England, and introduced the Bosc pear to the nation. In the 20th century, the Dewing family helped to launch the historic preservation movement by preserving the historic house inside and out.

Historic Newton took ownership of the home from the Durant Homestead Foundation, a family foundation that offered the home and surrounding land to Historic Newton in 2005.

Since that time, Historic Newton has worked to plan, organize, and develop a capital campaign to raise money to transform the home into an exciting education center. In supporting the Durant-Kenrick project, the City of Newton provided $2.71 million in Community Preservation Funds, with over $3.19 million in additional funds provided by residents, foundations, granting agencies, and corporate sponsors.

Historic Newton Board President Carl M. Cohen said, “Newton residents, area businesses, foundations, state agencies, and the City of Newton Community Preservation were all very generous in their support, coming together during tough economic times to fund this exciting project that will bring history to life and allow us to learn from the past. This support is a tribute to what people can do when they work together to build their community.”

The Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds is expected to be open and fully operational in the Fall of 2013.

Visit www.historicnewton.org for more information about Historic Newton and the broad range of walking tours and other educational programs it offers.

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