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William Sumner Appleton and the history of historic preservation in America

August 11, 2016 @ 6:00 pm

Seven Lectures at Seven Gables

America’s preservationist movement, unlike its staid and storied historic architecture, has changed significantly from its early days.

More than 100 years ago William Sumner Appleton founded the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now Historic New England. He is also credited with founding the preservationist movement in the United States and developing essential preservation protocols. The movement he started has evolved in some interesting ways.

“A lot has changed,” says Ken Turino, exhibitions manager at Historic New England. “Now we’re not just looking at a single house, we’re looking at whole neighborhoods. The preservation movement today is about landscape, about diners, about ways of life.”

Turino, a trustee at The House of the Seven Gables, begins his “Seven Lectures at Seven Gables” discussion with Appleton, preservationist pioneer in America, and expands his examination of the field to include the growth and changes over the last century.

This lecture is part of the Seven Lectures at Seven Gables series, and is scheduled for Thursday, August 11, at 6 p.m. The Gables is located at 115 Derby St., Salem, Massachusetts. Admission is free for members and $7 for nonmembers. After the lecture, Turino will sign copies of his book, “Images of America: Salem, Massachusetts.” Refreshments and free parking are available. Those interested in attending may email groups@7gables.org, or call 978-744-0991, ext. 104.

One hundred years ago, “there were no standard practices” when dealing with historic architecture, says Turino. “Appleton created and pioneered a lot of the methodology we use today. For example, he took the photographs himself for the work being done at The Gables. Today, that’s standard practice. He documented houses using measured drawings. And while he knew that not every building could be saved, an historic record could be made. There is an amazing collection of photos that Appleton took, beginning in the 1930s.”

Appleton, says Turino, was very interested in architecture for architecture’s sake, and that, in itself, was a deviation from the past.

Turino’s official title is Manger of Community Engagement and Exhibitions at Historic New England, the oldest, largest and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the country. Before this post he was executive director of the Lynn Museum, in Lynn, Massachusetts. He has worked at a number of historic houses including the Paul Revere House in Boston. He is an adjunct professor in the Tufts University Museum Studies Program where he teaches a course on the future of historic houses.

About The House of the Seven Gable Settlement Association
The mission of the House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association is to preserve its National Historic Landmark and leverage its power as an icon of American culture to engage diverse audiences and provide education opportunities for our local immigrant community. For more information visit www.7gables.org.

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August 11, 2016
6:00 pm
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