Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


May 16, 2013

Springboard to the future

Historical Society breakfast celebrates the past with new vision

In a first-ever event of its kind, the Andover Historical Society held a “Spring for History” breakfast at Andover Country Club Tuesday morning in an effort to boost the organization’s fund-raising efforts while increasing its connection with town leaders and residents

As about 200 people dined on Danishes, fruit and yogurt, Historical Society leaders touted the work being done by three paid staffers and a small army of volunteers to “gather, share and preserve” the stories of past generations for the benefit of future ones.

“We are now visited by 24,000 people a year,” Historic Society Executive Director Elaine Clements said. “Over the next 10 years, we’d like to triple that to 75,000 people a year. That is an audacious mission we are working hard to accomplish.”

With more than 50,000 objects in its collection, society staff and volunteers have documented just 20 percent of those items, ranging from historic documents to photographs to artifacts like a snare drum used by Civil War drummer-boy George Smart of Andover, who was killed in action and whose family donated the drum to the society for safekeeping.

Clements said among the society’s goals is to install a handicapped-accessible entry and hire a full-time, professional curator.

Yesterday, following a video about the society’s work over the years, incoming president Jane Cairns announced the creation of the Legacy Circle, a fund-raising arm of the society that is seeking donors to be stewards for $1,000 a year, historians for $5,000 a year or founders for an annual $10,000 contribution, all over a five-year commitment. Other lesser contributions were welcomed as well.

The money raised at yesterday’s event and going forward will be directed at sustaining the society’s annual $230,000 budget.

Cairns told the Townsman that as the Society just celebrated its 100th anniversary, it is looking to modernize its approach to historic preservation and outreach in the community.

The organization has a five-year strategic plan with a relatively new set of hopes and dreams, she said.

“Our mission is to collect stories, not just things,” Cairns said.

According to the mission statement, the society “tells the unique stories of Andover to foster a strong community that knows its history, values what it inherits and takes pride in what it passes on to future generations.”

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