DCR Announces Unique Opportunity to Reuse Four Historic Properties Located across Massachusetts


The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for four historic properties located across the Commonwealth that have been made available as part of the agency’s Historic Curatorship Program. The program offers the unique opportunity for private entities seeking to partner with the state to rehabilitate, reuse and maintain a historic property in exchange of a permit or long term lease. The properties include the 1847 Gatehouse at Lake Cochituate State Park in Wayland, the c. 1800 Farmhouse and Barn at Lake Wyola State Park in Shutesbury, the 1903 Superintendent’s House at Mt. Wachusett State Reservation in Princeton*, and the 1903 Officer’s Quarters at Ft. Revere in Hull.

“The Historic Curatorship Program demonstrates an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to preserving the history and culture of our park system,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “These four properties are significant to the agency, their local communities, and the Commonwealth.  Lack of an active use and damage caused by vandalism and the elements threaten these important resources, and through the Historic Curatorship Program, DCR hopes to find partners with the right combination of expertise, resources and passion to bring these landmarks back to life.”

DCR is not calling for formal proposals at this time, but is issuing a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) to present the four properties and the program to the general public, gauge general interest in the potential opportunity, and collect information to guide the development of formal Requests for Proposals. DCR looks to use this solicitation to identify creative reuses that will provide, first and foremost, for the preservation of the historic resource, but also encourages creative ideas that balance practical concerns with historic preservation standards.  While the program requires public access to the property twice a year, DCR encourages reuse ideas that include other public benefits beyond the twice annual requirement.

Responses to the RFEI are due on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 by 3:00PM.

The properties represent a broad range of architecture, significance, and settings: The Greek Revival Cochituate Gatehouse is a small granite structure that marked the starting point of Boston’s pioneering regional water system;  the Shingle-style Wachusett Superintendent’s House was one of the first buildings built by the State for park use and sits in the shadow of one of Massachusetts’ iconic peaks;  the Queen Anne Officer’s Quarters at Ft. Revere was part of a nationwide military construction program designed to fortify America’s coasts; and the Federal-inspired Farmhouse and Barn at Lake Wyola served travelers and guests as a nineteenth century inn, and later as a vacation resort.

The RFEI describes the submission requirements and provides information on the properties and the program, including an estimate of rehabilitation costs that would fall under the responsibility of a future user. Responses to the RFEI should briefly describe the respondent’s proposed reuse concept, experience, and feasibility plan. Respondents will be added to the mailing list in anticipation of the release of a formal Request for Proposals.

Established in 1994, the Historic Curatorship Program matches some of the Commonwealth’s significant historic resources with outside partners interested in providing rehabilitating and maintenance services in exchange for a long-term lease. Since the program’s inception, over $16 million in private funds has been leveraged toward the preservation of some of the state’s unused but significant historic properties. This total represents $7 of private funding for every $1 of state funds invested.  The program has become a national model, inspiring other government entities to add this innovative public-private partnership to their preservation toolbox.

To date, nineteen properties have been preserved under the program, from the mountains of Berkshire County to the urban streets of Dorchester, from the banks of the Merrimack River to the shores of Cape Cod. Current uses for the properties include single-family homes, artist lofts, nonprofit groups, and events and lodging facilities.  Successful curators are able to leverage their own ‘sweat equity’ towards the preservation and management work.

For electronic copies of the RFEI, as well as more details on the Historic Curatorship Program, visit DCR’s website. For hard copies of the documents or more information on the program, send an e-mail to HCP.Requests@state.ma.us, call 617-626-1361, or write to Historic Curatorship Program, Department of Conservation and Recreation, 7th floor, 251 Causeway St., Boston, MA 02114.

*Estimated baseline project costs for the 1903 Superintendent’s House at Mt. Wachusett State Reservation are $400-500K with a 30-40 year building lease. The cost of the historic renovations will replace payments for the lease.