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 Kingston Public Library

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               6 Green Street, Kingston Massachusetts 02364          781-585-0517
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Local History

House Histories





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In March 1973, the Town of Kingston established the Kingston Historical Commission (KHC). Through the 1970s, the Commission with the help of interested volunteers inventoried historic properties and submitted information to the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC). The project of surveying and documenting the numerous historic properties in Kingston proved daunting, however, and the effort slowed after the celebration of the Town’s 250th Anniversary and the United States Bicentennial in 1976.

In 1995, the Commission revived the project, conducting a preliminary survey that identified approximately 250 properties for further study, and in 1996, hiring Public Archaeology Laboratory Inc. to formally survey, research, photograph and document significant historical structures and places in town. In this first phase, 62 inventory forms were completed by mid-1997. At that point, Deirdre Brotherson, an architectural historian, took over and by mid-1998 had completed an additional 247 forms in the second phase of the project.

The project created a comprehensive architectural survey of historic properties in Kingston that have retained their architectural integrity, or, as Brotherson stated, “the building’s ability to tell its own story” and to add to the larger story of the entire town. Additional factors for selection included age, historical associations, visual access and relationships to other buildings.

The Kingston Comprehensive Historical Survey contains 309 forms documenting 318 properties in four volumes. The original forms were deposited with the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC), and a bound copy provided to the Kingston Public Library. Each form includes a photograph of the property, a sketch map which shows the immediate surrounding area, facts about the property (address, neighborhood, assessor’s number, style, architect, etc.), an architectural description, a historical narrative, a bibliography and, if appropriate, a National Register of Historic Places Criteria Statement Form. For most of the properties surveyed, the KHC used the MHC’s “Form B – Building,” but for additional property types -- cemeteries, historical markers and memorials, for example -- different MHC forms were used. For more information about the MHC forms, see their publication "Know How #6."

The Comprehensive Study is the basis of one of the most heavily used collections in the Kingston Public Library’s Local History Room (LHR), the House History Collection, so the forms stood out as one of the first resources to be digitized. These web pages contain 282 of the 309 forms completed by the KHC, with the remainder to follow along with supporting materials and related images. Each paper form was scanned, then optimized and processed to make it searchable online.


The old Town House decorated for the celebration for returning veterans, 1919


The Comprehensive Survey was completed with appropriations voted at Town Meeting in 1996 and 1997, along with grants from the Town’s Sampson Fund and the Massachusetts Historical Commission (with funds provided by the National Parks Service). KHC members, from 1996 to 1998 included Gordon L. Massingham (Chair 1996-97), Robert A. Moura Jr. (Chair 1998), Craig N. Dalton, Duane B. Frey, William E. Frey, Walter W. Hoeg, Doris M. Johnson, David C. McKee, Norman P. Tucker, and Robert A. Walker.

The LHR’s House Histories Collection was first organized by former Archivist Carrie Elliott Mathias as a way to provide easier public access to the Comprehensive Survey forms. The forms were sorted by street address and filed in notebooks. This mini-repository of additional information and links to other materials in the LHR is available whenever the Library is open.

Finally, several volunteers contributed to getting the forms online: thanks to Ruth Ryan for photocopying, scanning and filing; to Gregg Bouley for scanning and pdf processing; and to Jan Guidoboni for research and annotation. Archivist Susan Aprill oversaw the project, did a little of everything and created the webpages.



These House History pages are dedicated to Ruth Ryan, a long-time volunteer in the LHR. At the age of 96, Ruth learned to scan documents and created many of the pdfs included in the House History project. Her constant smile, her warm and no-nonsense demeanor, her dedication and most of all, her willingness to keep busy, keep productive and keep learning made her one of our LHR favorites. Thank you Ruth, for everything.

© All rights reserved. Town of Kingston, Kingston Public Library. For more information please write to Kingston Public Library, 6 Green Street, Kingston Massachusetts 02364 or email the Library Director at For suggestions on how we can improve our services, please email The Kingston Public Library is a member of the Old Colony Library Network.