Anyone who has driven past the Lowell Mason House at Hinkley Pond on Green Street in Medfield this past year would have seen quite a lot of construction activity.
The House, birthplace of our nation’s first music educator, Lowell Mason, was put on permanent structural supports, got a new basement floor, a new roof and gutters, and new windows on the ground floor. All this was done with the goal of making the Lowell Mason House a space for active music-making and music education, arts advocacy and the preservation of Mason’s legacy.
The next phase of construction includes new windows for the rest of the house, the replacement of entry doors, and new siding.
One of the challenges of working with an antique house is preserving what is historically significant while also making it usable in the present day. The thoughtful re-use of the Lowell Mason House has required a willingness to adjust the plans during the construction process when better options have bubbled up.
For instance, the original plans for the ground floor required the installation of three lally columns to adequately support the house structure. The placement of those columns, however, significantly reduced the usable space in the modern ground floor. Hurley-Testa Construction, acting as the general contractor, worked closely with the Medfield Building Inspector and a structural engineer to rework the plans, resulting in only one column being necessary. While these changes added to the cost by requiring the use of a larger steel beam and other changes, they also resulted in a 15% increase in the usable space on the ground floor. While this increase may not sound major, it is huge in the context of making the Lowell Mason House an active space. Additionally, the one column will be buried in a stairwell wall, so it will not be seen.
The Lowell Mason House project has been, and will continue to be, a work in stages. The first goal is to get the ground floor available for use. This is the modern part of the structure, and will require additional fundraising of approximately $90,000. The ground floor will house music practice space and office space for arts advocacy organizations.
Later, as funds and time allow, the restoration of the first and second floors will provide additional music practice rooms and a Lowell Mason Museum highlighting Mason’s legacy as America’s first music educator. The Museum will contain a number of artifacts, such as his personal Bible, hand-written music, and a number of portraits and other items donated by the Mason family. While the items are currently in storage, many of them are available to view online through Digital Commonwealth, a service provided through the Boston Public Library.
The 2nd Lowell Mason House Gala, “Windows, Doors & More,” will take place on Friday evening, June 3, at The Center at Medfield, One Ice House Road, at 7:00 p.m. There will be gourmet, wood fired pizza, wine and beer from a cash bar, and a great selection of silent auction items. There will also be live music from The Nolan Melia Jazz/Funk/Blues Experience, a local band made up of young Medfield musicians. Tickets are available through the Lowell Mason House website, www.lowellmasonhouse.org. Sponsorships are still available and any inquiries or questions about the Gala should be directed to Karen Scotti at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All proceeds from the event will go towards making the Lowell Mason House an active space in the community and help fulfill Lowell Mason’s wish that all children should have the opportunity to make music. This thoughtful re-use of a historic home in Medfield provides an example of how to both preserve our past but also deal with the needs of today.