The Newton Historical Society will use a grant provided by the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency and the Massachusetts Cultural Council to continue its preservation and restoration project at the Durant-Kenrick House.
The $218,000 Cultural Facilities Fund grant will also allow the organization, which operates as Historic Newton , to add an educational wing to the Waverly Avenue property, one of the few pre-Revolutionary War houses remaining in the city.
The restoration project is expected to cost about $2.3 million. The additional money will come from other grants and private donations.
Along with structural repairs, including replacing the roof, Historic Newton is providing an interpretive exhibit on the house’s history, furnishing it with period furniture, developing interactive and audio programming, and setting up gardens and orchards on the grounds, said Cynthia Stone, Historic Newton’s director.
“The house has a wonderful history over three periods of time,” Stone said, and the new programming will be centered on Newton’s history, horticulture, and civil rights — themes based on the experiences of the Durant, Kenrick, and Dewing families, respectively. Each family lived on the property during significant periods of history.
Edward Durant, an acquaintance of Samuel Adams, was Newton’s main participant in the activities leading up to the American Revolution, according to Stone. Local schoolchildren study the Durants as part of their third-grade history curriculum. Stone said Historic Newton will be developing programs that complement the classroom lessons.
The Kenrick family built a nationally significant commercial nursery in the early 19th century, introducing plants from various British colonies to New England. William Kenrick, one of the country’s first horticulturists, planted specimen trees on the property. Stone said Historic Newton plans to connect this story with programs about gardening and where food comes from.
Arthur S. Dewing studied and taught at Harvard, where he helped found the Harvard Business School and developed the case-study method still used there. His wife, Frances R. Dewing, was one of the first women to receive a doctorate from Radcliffe College. Some of the Durant-Kenrick programs will be focused on Americans’ and women’s rights, and how “we become active participants in shaping what our rights are,” Stone said.
To receive the grant, Historic Newton had to apply to the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Its expert panels and Cultural Facilities Fund Advisory Committee review applications and recommend organizations to MassDevelopment, which makes the final decision. The Massachusetts Cultural Council’s communications director, Greg Liakos, said that the process usually takes about six months from the time the application is submitted to when organizations are notified about the grants.
According to the Cultural Facilities Fund panel rating, the Durant-Kenrick project received 4.12 points out of a possible 5, making it a strong candidate for the grant. An organization’s project planning, financial planning, implementation, and the grant’s potential effect on the community are all factors in the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s recommendation.
Historic Newton, which had already begun restoring the house before it received the grant earlier this summer, scored highest in the financial planning category.
One of the qualifications for the grant is being able to raise funds matching the total amount of the grant, which Stone said Historic Newton was able to do through additional grants and private donations, some from Newton residents.