News & Features
In the News
Week of 20 November 1998
Vol. II, No. 15
Menino Fellowship to support students of historic
by Eric McHenry
A newly created preservation studies fellowship, Richard
Candee says, will help build savings for those who help save
The Thomas M. Menino Legacy Fellowship is meant
simultaneously to honor a mayor with a strong record of
support for historic preservation and to help finance the
education of promising young preservationists.
"We had three wonderful incoming students who were
forced to defer because they simply didn't have the cash,
and because I didn't have the resources to make sure they
got here," says Candee, director of the preservation studies
program in the GRS department of American studies. "Limited
financial aid to master's students is the most serious
deficiency the preservation studies program has."
At an October 29 reception
announcing the creation of the Thomas M. Menino
Legacy Fellowship for the GRS preservation studies
program, Mayor Menino (left) greets Alan Schwartz,
former chairman of the Boston Landmarks Commission
and an alumnus of the program. Looking on (from
left) are BU Chancellor John Silber, in whose
office the reception was held, BU President Jon
Westling, and Richard Candee, director of the
preservation studies program. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky
The fellowship was announced at an October 29 ceremony in
BU Chancellor John Silber's office. Conceived by Candee and
three program graduates who have gone on to careers in the
field of historic preservation, it will provide tuition
remission to students in exchange for their work as interns
for regional preservation agencies. Initially, Candee says,
it will support one student on a year-by-year basis. He
hopes, however, that several annual fellowships will
ultimately be funded in perpetuity.
"We announced the fellowship in hopes of people being
generous," Candee says, "and our prospects appear to be
pretty good. But we're still very much in the fundraising
The fellowship has been created in cooperation with
the Boston Landmarks Commission, the Boston Main Streets
program, the Boston Preservation Alliance, the Society for
the Preservation of New England Antiquities, and the
Northeast Regional Office of the National Trust for Historic
Preservation. These organizations, whether publicly funded
or private and nonprofit, typically aren't budgeted to pay
graduate student interns. But the BU preservation studies
program requires a paid internship for all master's
candidates. Candee says the fellowship is one way of helping
students fulfill that requirement, and of ensuring that the
work they do is germane to their discipline.
From biochemistry to maritime history
Colleen Oates (GRS'99) is the administrative
director for Cushing House, a 19th-century federal
mansion in Newburyport. It's a job that nicely
complements her graduate-level study of historic
preservation. But Oates' true enthusiasms are paint
analysis and structural survey.
"I'm primarily interested in preservation
consulting," she says.
Preservation studies is among the most
interdisciplinary of disciplines. It can demand a
working knowledge of subjects as varied as
engineering, Colonial American history, and
Oates, as it happens, majored in biochemistry as
an undergraduate. "I found preservation appealing
for its tactile component," she says. "I had done
summer construction work during high school and
college. I saw preservation studies as a way of
combining my tactile knowledge and my chemical
knowledge in some sort of framework.
"Preservation theory is something that very much
appeals to me because of the recycling ethic," she
adds. "It entails maintaining historical resources
as well as physical resources."
Preservation studies has only come into its own
as a discipline within the past two decades, Oates
says. BU's is one of about 20 master's programs
nationwide. According to Albert Rex (GRS'94),
director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, the
program is uniquely well situated because Boston is
a uniquely historic city.
"BU is such a great place for a preservation
program," he says. "There's so much hands-on
experience to be had right here, in and around the
city. It's a training center."
Oates agrees. She hopes to remain in the area
after completing her degree, pursuing a newfound
passion within the field.
"I'm really starting to get seduced by the North
Shore and maritime history," she says. "I'm
interested in old seaside towns and how they
operate now, the compromises they have to make as
tourism becomes their principal industry."
"So many students have had to take jobs unrelated to
preservation just in order to afford their education," says
Candee. "We're setting up the fellowship in order to place
very good students in those Boston agencies and nonprofit
organizations, giving them a terrific experience in urban
Many of the most prominent local preservationists, Candee
notes, are products of BU's program. These alumni are
valuable resources, returning to give guest lectures,
mentoring current students, and providing them with points
of entry to local agencies.
The fellowship, therefore, helps codify an existing
synergism between the program, organizations devoted to
historic preservation, and the city of Boston. Students
profit from the work experience and financial assistance.
The program, in turn, is able to draw the best-qualified
students and to provide them with a top-notch experience.
Preservation agencies get excellent interns and potential
full-time employees. All of this has obvious and myriad
benefits for a city full of historic sites.
Preservation has been a principal concern of Menino's
since he first entered public office. As a city councilor
for Roslindale, he brought the Boston area its first Main
Street program -- a town center revitalization initiative
that had enjoyed considerable success in the Midwest. Since
becoming mayor in 1995, he's expanded the program to
encompass some 20 other districts in the Boston area.
"Boston's Main Streets program is a model for the
country," says Albert Rex (GRS'94), director of the Boston
Preservation Alliance and one of the Menino Fellowship's
architects. "It's the first truly urban Main Streets
program. It had been implemented successfully in towns
across the country, but it had never been tested at this
"Mayor Menino essentially said, 'What's a big city but a
collection of small towns?' " says Candee, adding that
Menino also served as an advisor to the National Trust for
Historic Preservation for nearly a decade. "We're not naming
a fellowship for him just because he's the mayor. Thomas
Menino has had an ongoing, absolutely influential role in
historic preservation in Boston. It's among his strongest
reasons for being in public service. He and the fellowship
are a wonderful match."