Five Ways to Celebrate Preservation Month in Boston

Take architecture tours, learn about the city’s time capsules, board the Nantucket, and more.

Image courtesy of the Boston Landmarks Commission

Image courtesy of the Boston Landmarks Commission

With graduation ceremonies, proms, and Mother’s Day brunches, there are quite a few festivities to pencil in during the month of May. But the city is asking that you consider one more reason to celebrate—and that reason is historic preservation.

During Historic Preservation Month, cities across the country set out to promote heritage tourism and to raise awareness about the power of historic preservation. In Boston, there’s plenty of preservation to be seen and heard.

The Boston Landmarks Commission has planned events for every day this month so you can become one with Boston’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, and architecture. The BLC oversees more than 8,000 properties within the city’s nine historic districts, and has deemed this year’s Preservation Month theme as “Keep the Change.”

In a nutshell, “Keep the Change” is a testament that development and preservation can coexist. Rosanne Foley, executive director of the BLC, says the theme tries to promote preservation as a tool to manage changes to the city while still protecting its character.

To us, it embodies what we’re all about,” she says.

Foley adds Mayor Walsh’s announcement of support of the Community Preservation Act is perfect timing in introducing Preservation Month.

From a keynote about blending the old and the new in the BPL’s McKim Building to a history of Boston in objects, Preservation Month presents opportunities for learning about history, architecture, and more.

Here are some highlights from the event calendar:

Photo courtesy of the Boston Landmarks Commission

Photo courtesy of the Boston Landmarks Commission

A Lion, A Unicorn, and a Time Capsule: Preservation Surprises at the Old State House

See for yourself the contents of the time capsule that was unearthed from the Old State House in 2014. After a restoration of the building’s lion and unicorn statues, the box was discovered in plain sight after 100 years. Visitors can view a documentary about the discovery, as well as see the historic photographs, newspaper articles, and other items from the capsule.

Cost included with Old State House admission, Saturday, May 7, 1 p.m., Old State House, 206 Washington St.,

Uncovering Cherubs: New Discoveries at Old North Church

If you’ve ever wondered how the Old North Church was decorated when Paul Revere lit his lanterns, there’s now a an answer. Over the winter, the church conducted a historic paint analysis to find out. In the process, an image of a cherub circa 1727 was discovered under layers of paint. See the paint, hear about the cherub-finding process, and talk about church preservation at this event.

Free and open to the public, reservations required, Wednesday, May 11, 6:30-9 p.m., Old North Church, 193 Salem St.,

Photo courtesy of the Boston Landmarks Commission

Photo courtesy of the Boston Landmarks Commission

Nantucket Lightship/LV-112

A living museum of U.S. Lightship service, the Nantucket/LV-112 honors another ship, the Nantucket/LV-117, which sank after years of guiding ships around the treacherous Nantucket Shoals. Board the LV-112 for tours on the anniversary of its twin ship’s unfortunate sinking, and learn why it was known as “The Statue of Liberty of the Sea.”

Suggested $5 donations, Saturday, May 15, 10-4 p.m., 256 Marginal St., East Boston,

Fundamentals of Researching Buildings in Boston

Old buildings in Boston are a dime a dozen, but have you ever wondered about the building that you live in? Tonya Loveday, assistant survey director at the BLC, is conducting a free introductory workshop at City Hall on how to uncover the history behind a Boston building of your choosing.

Free and open to the public, registration required, contact before May 12 to reserve a place, Monday, May 16, 5:30 p.m.,

Researching Irish Domestic Servants

Built for businessman and art collector Frederick Ayer, the Ayer Mansion is the only surviving house designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. In the early 1900s, most of the servants working in the mansion were Irish. At this event, Marie E. Daly, a senior genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, will explore the lives of Irish servants in her lecture.

Tickets are $10, $5 for students, registration required, Tuesday, May 17, 6:30 p.m., the Ayer Mansion, 395 Commonwealth Ave.,


Preservation Month also offers numerous recurring events, including walking tours of almost every neighborhood of Boston. More information is available at