At Long Last … The Gallivan House Historic Preservation Restriction Agreement Is Complete

As we indicated in the Society’s June Newsletter, the Gallivan House, the brick NeoGeorgian home directly across the street from the Town Green, was purchased by Braintree Historical Society in 2005 to join the General Sylvanus Thayer Birthplace, the Asa French House and the Barn and Resource Center at 31 Tenney Road, as one historic campus. The home has remained unused for a majority of time since its purchase.

In 2013, the Society was granted Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to replace the Gallivan House roof, which had failed and was causing escalating water damage to the interior of the home. The Society agreed, in 2013, to complete a Preservation Restriction Agreement with the Massachusetts Historical Commission, as a condition of receiving CPA funds, in order to preserve the property and restore the Doctor’s Office as a small museum example of an in-home physician’s office typical of the 1930s.

Working with the Massachusetts Historical Commission, current Society President Bob Harris, completed a draft of the Agreement which met Commission’s requirements for final notarized 6 signatures. At the request of the Braintree Historical Commission, Town Solicitor, Nicole Taub, reviewed and approved the final draft and, on August 12, 2019, Mayor Sullivan signed the Agreement, followed by Ruth Powell, representing the Braintree Historical Society and Jane Barney, Thayer Birthplace Endowment Trustee. On September 3, 2019, Town Councilmembers signed the agreement followed by the Braintree Historical Commission on September 8, 2019, and Brona Simon, Executive Director and Clerk of the Massachusetts Historical Commission on September 11, 2019 on behalf of Massachusetts Secretary of State, William Francis Galvin.

On September 17, 2019, Bob Harris and former Vice President, now Corresponding Secretary, Cheryl Edgar, retrieved the signed and notarized original copies of the Agreement and registered it with the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds in Book 37158, page 384. After distributing registered copies to all stakeholders, this process was at long last complete.

With the completion of this long-awaited process, the Massachusetts Historical Commission has “… irrevocably grant(ed) … (the Gallivan House) … Preservation Restriction Agreement … in perpetuity”.

The remaining $1,900 balance of the Community Preservation Act Gallivan roof replacement funds, justifiably withheld since 2013 until the Agreement was in place, has been released to the Society. Historically, the CPC has been an invaluable resource to the Society to fund critical restoration work on the Society’s Thayer House, French House and Gallivan House. The reopening of the potential funding resource is a huge step forward for the Society and for the long-term preservation of the important historical Braintree properties. 

The Society’s Website and Social Media Initiative Moves Ahead

Over the past two months, the Society has moved forward in leaps and bounds with the organization’s website and new ways of communicating with the public.

Volunteers, Kari Mofford & Yvonne Dhimitri, have joined Aziz Karsan as Society website administrators significantly lightening the responsibility of our Webmaster and Treasurer. Yvonne has redesigned, updated and streamlined the website at Older information is archived and the information on the home page is fresh and up to date.

The website still under development now includes the ability to purchase some of the Society’s books online, a feature that is very convenient for purchasers who are not nearby. We hope to have other items from our Gift Shop available through online purchasing before the holidays.

Both Kari and Yvonne are actively updating the Society’s facebook page with new and interesting information, photos and videos. Viewers can find it by simply searching in for Braintree Historical Society.

The Society now has an Instagram page under Yvonne’s oversight in which she posts new photos and information at least once weekly. Viewers can find it by searching for

Both Yvonne and Kari have also activated the Society’s dormant twitter account and continue to work on this new feature at

Please check out these exciting new and updated communication efforts. The Society continues to seek volunteers to help with print media. If you’re interested in either print media or social media, please email us at

What is the Blue Tarp on the Roof of the Historical Resource Center?

The Gilbert L Bean Barn & Mary Bean Cunningham Historical Resource Center & the bright blue tarp have raised many questions. Passer’s by may have noticed that a large portion of the Resource Center’s roof is covered by a bright blue tarp.

The roof of this building and the siding have been failing for some time, as there are dried signs of water intrusion in several places throughout the building. During this past winter, after a snowstorm, water was again leaking into the attic section of the building, causing damage to stored items and to the building’s structure.

Private donors, Carl Kilmer and Mary Ellen Zanghi Kilmer, offered to have a contractor place a temporary tarp over the roof to minimize water coming into the building. As the Society looks for ways to bring its buildings back up to optimal conditions, the Kilmers have offered to work with the Society to develop the fundraising strategies necessary to bring in funds to make the necessary repairs.

We anticipate the roof being the next priority after the completion of the replacement of the Thayer Birthplace roof

Update: A New Roof for the Thayer Birthplace

As reported in the September 2019 newsletter, in June of this year, the Massachusetts Historical Commission awarded the Braintree Historical Society half of the projected construction cost of replacing the failing Thayer House roof. The Society contracted with Wendall Kalsow of McGinley, Kalsow & Associates, Inc, architects with considerable experience in historic restoration, to complete the State-required blueprints and specifications for the roof replacement project. The plans, submitted to the Massachusetts Historical Commission in late August were approved, as was the final draft of the construction contract, also prepared by architect Kalsow as required. Construction bids, submitted by the September 20 deadline, were reviewed the following week. David J Campbell of CVC Installations in Beverly, MA was chosen as the lowest qualified bidder for the project and subsequently approved by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Commission contracts were subsequently signed, followed by CVC Installations and the Society signing the construction contract. Contractor, David J Campbell, has 20 years of experience in historical preservation construction and was recommended by McGinley, Kalsow & Associates, Inc. The roof replacement project requires the replacement of 10 matching bricks and matching mortar in the center chimney which may be complete as this newsletter is going to press. Alaskan cedar roofing shingles have been approved and ordered and are on their way from Washington state. The roof replacement is anticipated to start once the new shingles have arrived. Derek Manning, Board member and Historic Preservation Specialist, Bob Harris, Board President, Wendall Kalsow, architect and Paul Holtz, Massachusetts Historic Commission architect, will work together with contractor, David J (Jeremy) Campbell, to oversee this project. The Birthplace, a property on the National Register of Historic Places, will be 300 years old in 2020. The replacement of the roof is a huge kickoff for this important milestone for the Thayer Birthplace and the Society. The Society and private donors, Carl and Mary Ellen Zanghi Kilmer, who are funding the balance of the project costs, are excited to see this project get underway. We all look forward to this important step in preserving the Thayer House for future generations to come. 

A New Roof for the Thayer Birthplace!

In the late 1950s, the Thayer Birthplace was painstakingly dismantled in its original location in the Highlands, moved to its current location at 786 Washington Street, Braintree, and carefully restored with more than 60% of the original wood still intact.

In 1987, the roof was replaced with red cedar shingles for the first time with funds from the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC). Having lasted 32 years, the roof has been showing signs of failure. Missing shingles and a leak around the chimney above the Cobbler’s Shop on the south end of the building have moved this repairreplacement item up to the top of the Society’s priority list. The photo above tells it all.

In March of this year, Board Member Bob Harris, prepared and submitted a grant to the Massachusetts Historical Commission for matching funds to replace the existing roof, with support from Mayor Sullivan, the Braintree Historical Commission and private donors, Carl and Mary Ellen Zanghi Kilmer. In June, the Massachusetts Historical Commission awarded the Society 50% of the funds to replace the roof. The Kilmers have agreed to fund the balance of the roof replacement.

The Society has contracted with Wendall Kalsow of McGinley, Kalsow and Associates, Inc, architects with considerable experience in historic restoration, to complete the State-required design and specifications for the roof replacement project. Plans are anticipated to be ready to submit to the State for approval by the end of August.

In keeping with the historic nature of the building, the roof will be replaced with either Western red cedar shingles or Alaskan yellow cedar shingles, a product more closely resembling the Eastern white cedar that was likely used in 1720 when the home was built.

Bob Harris was voted by the Society’s Board to be the Local Project Coordinator, a (volunteer) position required by MHC. Derek Manning, a Society volunteer and new Board member with a Masters in Historic Preservation, is serving as a Consultant on the project. The Society will work closely with the Braintree Historical Commission, the Braintree Department of Planning and Community Development and the Massachusetts Historical Commission to complete the roof replacement before June 30, 2020, in the most optimal way possible.

The birthplace, a property on the National Register of Historic Places at the National level of significance, will be 300 years old in 2020. The replacement of the new roof is a huge kickoff for this important milestone for the Thayer Birthplace and the Society.

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