50 years of preserving the woods in Manchester, and then Essex

Albert Creighton Jr. (right) and Helen Bethell at last week’s celebration.
Albert Creighton Jr. (right) and Helen Bethell at last week’s celebration.

1963 Albert Creighton Jr., George Loring, and Frances Burnett create the privately funded Manchester Conservation Trust to “preserve the natural beauty, resources, and wildlife of Manchester and vicinity,” according to their mission statement.

1982 The group hires Helen Bethell of Manchester as its first executive director. When Burnett retires in 1995, Bethell takes over the researching of deeds.

1999 The trust becomes The Manchester-Essex Conservation Trust, and its mission is restated to emphasize its commitment to protect wildlife habitat and other natural resources in both towns, primarily though preservation of the woodlands they share.


2006-07 The trust embarks on the Save Our Woods capital campaign, needing to raise $1.4 million to prevent 100 acres from being developed. It raises more than $3 million.

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2012 Bethell retires as executive director, taking on the volunteer post of director of land acquisition and protection. Kathy Leahy succeeds Bethell, and moves the trust offices to Essex County Greenbelt headquarters in Essex. It is the first time the trust is not based in a private home, though many of the records remain in Bethell’s basement.

2013 In its 50th year, the trust owns and protects approximately 1,700 acres in Manchester-by-the-Sea and Essex.

SOURCES: Helen Bethell, Manchester-Essex Conservation Trust