Please Help Save One of the Earliest Brick Houses in America

I received an email from Ryan Hayward of The Preservation Collaborative. He is seeking help getting word out to help save the Peter Tufts house in Medford, Massachusetts. This is one of the earliest brick houses in America (1677-1680). Please volunteer to help in any way if you can.

The Peter Tufts House
The Peter Tufts House, Medford, Massachusetts

Here’s the information from Ryan:

“Dear Friends,

The Peter Tufts House needs your help! For many of you who don’t know me personally, my name is Ryan Hayward, a historic preservation consultant (from The Preservation Collaborative, Inc.) who lives and works in Medford, Massachusetts. I have a number of preservation projects underway, but nearest to my heart is my volunteer effort to help the Medford Historical Society, a non-profit organization, raise awareness for one of the oldest brick houses in America (1677-1680). They have allowed me to spread the word that they are looking for volunteers to form a committee which will take charge of preserving this National Historic Landmark for future generations. This is where you come in!

I am asking you to review the enclosed press release (below) from the Society and distribute anyone you think would be interested in assisting this organization. They are seeking a number of professional skills and I know there are individuals out there with these expertise’s. We need your years of experience! The preservation community has been challenged; united, lets show that we have strength and can provide the support the Society needs towards realization of their goal.

For those unfamiliar with the Peter Tufts House, it was constructed in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. It is well known architecturally for a number of features: one of the earliest gambrel roofs, the circular port windows and its beautiful colonial revival interior. It has been saved in the past by a number of caring individuals including Medford’s first mayor, Samuel Crocker Lawrence, and later by William Sumner Appleton. For many years, the house was known as the Old Fort or the Cradock House, for its supposed association with Massachusetts’s Bay’s first Governor and original grantor of Medford settlement.

Since acquisition in 1982 (from SPNEA, now Historic New England), the building has been occasionally open for tours and was home to a full time caretaker. Deferred maintenance has finally caught up with the building, and it is in need of significant amounts of work. The committee will be charged with drawing up a work plan, then seeking out grants and funding to make rehabilitation possible within the next few years. The Society, to the best of its ability, is trying to keep the building in public hands. It honors the intent of the many donors who provided the original money to purchase the building. Although appearing daunting, the work before this board is managable and can be done! A number of organizations have faced (and conquered this very same issue); now it’s our turn.

I look forward to hearing positive response from this and, of course, if you have questions/comments and suggestions, please feel free to send them along to either myself, or to the Society’s President below!

Thank you for ALL your support and everything you do to help ensure New England’s rich heritage stays alive for the next generation!

Ryan D. Hayward
The Preservation Collaborative, Inc.
40 Sheridan Avenue Medford, MA 02155
781 241 7253 Ryan@preservation-collaborative.com

Begin Press Release:


From: The Board of Directors of the Medford Historical Society, John Anderson, President

Date: 6/5/2013

The Peter Tufts House at 350 Riverside Avenue, Medford was built around 1678. It is one of the oldest brick houses in America. Peter Tufts, Sr., the first owner, emigrated from England around 1640. A descendant, Charles Tufts, provided 200 acres and a large sum of money to found Tufts University in 1852.

The house was purchased by William Sumner Appleton, the founder of SPNEA, in 1929 and subsequently gifted to SPNEA. Eventually, faced with the cost of maintaining so many historic houses, SPNEA decided to dispose of some of their properties. In 1982, the Medford Historical Society purchased the house from SPNEA (now known as Historic New England), with the purpose of keeping the house in the hands of a non-profit organization that would operate it for the benefit of the community.

During the last 30 years, the house has been open for tours from time to time and also used on occasion for academic research. A long term tenant is in the process of moving out.

Now, the Medford Historical Society finds itself in the same predicament that SPNEA faced 30 years ago. We do not have sufficient resources to maintain the house and are considering putting the property on the market for sale to a private party. Fortunately, SPNEA placed a number of conservation restrictions on the property 30 years ago so that regardless of who owns the property, it cannot be torn down, built onto, or have its historic features altered by any owner.

We believe that grant money could be secured to improve the property. Then we could rent to new tenants and generate the income necessary to sustain the house for a number of years. But the Society does not have the volunteer resources to manage this effort.

We will keep the house if a committee of five to seven qualified volunteers comes forward and is willing to take responsibility for managing the house. “Qualified” means:

Expertise: The committee must include people with the following skills:

  • Property Management (relations with tenants, routine maintenance)
  • Historic Preservation (knowledge of available resources, best practices, etc.)
  • Construction Management (how to administer and oversee relatively complicated projects)
  • Fund Raising (Grants, donations, etc.)

Personal Commitment:

  • The committee members commit to staying on the committee for at least three years.
  • They will be unpaid volunteers.
  • The committee chairperson attends the regular monthly board meetings of the Historical Society.

Results Oriented:

  • The committee will be responsible for drawing up and executing a plan for stabilizing and maintaining the property. The plan will be subject to approval by the Society board.
  • The committee will commit to a timeline for fund raising and repair projects. While the dollar amount is not yet determined, it will be in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, not counting funds from the Society treasury.


  • The Board needs to be up and running by July 31, 2013 and work with the Society Board to establish a timeline for subsequent activities.

This message is being sent to:

  • Medford Historical Society Members
  • Medford public at large through Medfordmass Listserv
    -The Medford Historical Commission and Historical District Commission
  • Historic New England
  • Tufts Kinsmen Association
  • Mass Historic Preservation email list

If you are interested in this exciting opportunity to conserve this important property and maintain public access, please contact John Anderson, President, for more information. Please include a summary of your relevant experience. John can be reached at jwa02155@yahoo.com or 781-395-5138.

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