Updated 1:27pm 06.27.12
In a recent letter to the Milton Board of Selectmen, Carl Nold, President of Historic New England, recently announced that his organization had, for preservation, conservation and educational purposes, purchased the William Ellery Channing Eustis Estate, located at 1424-1426 Canton Avenue. The Eustis estate is the majestic home that sits behind the stone gate keeper’s cottage just up the road from the Suffolk Resolves house. The acquisition is remarkable news for the town, guaranteeing open space and a rural quality to the south west side of town as well as preserving an architectural jewel — all for public benefit.
The estate includes 80 acres of land that abuts the Blue Hills. The house was designed in 1878 by the architect William Ralph Emerson, a cousin of Ralph Waldo Emerson. The gate house was built in 1892 and modeled on the Ames Gate Lodge. Mr. Nold notes, “The acquisition immediately fills several gaps in our collection of architectural styles and periods, plus our desire for a stronger presence south of Boston, and for an elegant and impressive cultural facility where we can serve the public through tours, scholarly activities and events.”
Historic New England was founded in 1910. Previously known as the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, the organization owns, preserves and interprets 36 historic properties in five states, comprised of 140 buildings from the 17th century to the present, and 1,300 acres of land. They protect another 82 privately owned historic properties through preservation easements we hold. With the help of 7,000 member households, including 145 households in Milton, they collect, preserve and share with the public historic properties, collections, archives and stories.
Mr. Nold expressed his intent to work with local Milton organizations including historic and conservation commissions and Curry College, Brookwood Community Farms, the Historical Society, the Forbes House Museum and Wakefield Estate in their future planning.
The selectmen were informed by Mr. Nold that the family will continue to occupy the estate for a transition period, during which Historic New England will conduct research and planning for opening the estate as a museum and study center. The estate will remain a private residence during that time. Historic New England also acquired two adjacent properties to complement the project. The one to the north will continue as a private residence. The one to the south will be renovated for public use in support of the Eustis Estate and the scholarly programs Historic New England plans to undertake.
However, nothing comes without a price. One of the Board of Selectmen estimates that $112,000 will be taken off the tax rolls as a result of the purchase. Private homes that paid property taxes will now be tax exempt property owned by a non-profit institution.