Historical Society launches fundraising campaign for tea house

By November 15, 2018 May 7th, 2019 News

By Ethan Forman, Staff Writer, Salem News
Feb 13, 2017

DANVERS — The Historical Society is launching a major fundraising campaign to pay for repairs to the historic Derby Summer House at Glen Magna Farms, as it moves ahead with the nearly $200,000 project.

With $30,000 in donations already in the bank, the nonprofit is sending out fundraising appeals to raise the remaining $20,000 it needs for its share of a state matching grant. The Historical Society has three years to come up with the match, but the money from the state grant has to be spent by the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30, 2017.

The society has hired Gienapp Design Associates in Danvers to be the restoration architect and do the assessment work.

The project is meant to repair damage caused by squirrels to the 2 1/2 story national historic landmark. The building, which dates to 1794, also needs repairs to restore it, due to wear and tear over time.

This first phase of work consists of emergency repairs to stabilize the building from further damage, including replacing the cedar roof, damaged flashing, rotten roof sheathing boards, a corner post and sill, and other work. This phase is estimated to cost $95,500.

The second phase of less urgent repairs will cost just under $93,000, bringing the total project cost to $188,500.

The project received a boost in August 2016, when the Historical Society received a $50,000 matching grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission to save the summer house. The society is now raising money to match this grant.

It’s expected the emergency repairs will be finished by June 30. The second phase of less urgent repairs will take place over time and be funded through private donations. The project has been put out to bid to find a contractor to do the work.

The ornate structure, also known as the McIntire Tea House, was designed and built by famed Salem woodcarver and architect Samuel McIntire. It features carved figures of a milkmaid and a reaper on top, and four Grecian urns at the roof corners. The Federal-style garden tea house was built for Salem merchant Elias Hasket Derby and moved from his farm in what is now Peabody in 1901. It was willed to the Historical Society in 1958.

The structure was badly damaged during the winter of 2015 when a family of squirrels moved in, chewing through boards under the gutter and on the side of the house. This allowed water to penetrate the house. A Topsfield pest control company trapped the squirrels, and the the Historical Society raised money to have the holes in the structure patched.

An interesting side note to the restoration work involves David McIntire of Southborough, the licensed electrician on the project. He has taken a keen interest in the building as the fourth great-grandson of Angier McIntire, the brother Samuel McIntire, who designed the tea house.

More information about the summer house restoration project is available at www.danvershistory.org/buildings/derby.