Last month, the American Antiquarian Society entered a new era. Since 1981, fellows and visiting scholars have been housed at the Goddard-Daniels House, an elegant turn-of-the-century mansion located across Salisbury Street from the library building. On May 25, with Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray leading the proceedings, the ribbon was cut to officially open the Society’s new fellows’ residence at 9 Regent Street, directly up the hill from Antiquarian Hall.
The Society has owned the 9 Regent Street house since 1982, first renting it out to tenants and then using it as administrative office space when the various digitizing projects underway at AAS began requiring more space. In the summer of 2009, AAS received a matching grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund to support the renovation of the large Craftsman-style house (built in 1909) into a residence for AAS fellows.
Working from period photographs, the house was restored to its original appearance, with the attached garage being replaced by the wraparound porch that is already becoming a favorite haunt of house residents.
Construction started in October 2009, and proceeded throughout the winter. The addition of a new roof, new cedar siding, new heating and air conditioning systems, and a new room at the rear of the house to offer handicapped-accessible lodging were only a few of the milestones that helped mark progress as the house was transformed from a somewhat dowdy house-with-offices to the grande dame of Regent Street. Thanks to the generosity of AAS member David Doret, the walls of the house were decorated with prints, drawings, and paintings that help make what might otherwise feel like a dormitory (a very nice dormitory) into a home.
The new house offers visiting researchers eight guest rooms (each lovingly decorated in individualized style), comfortable common areas, a newly renovated kitchen, and—perhaps most importantly—removes the task of having to dodge traffic on Salisbury Street in order to get to the library every morning. While some longtime AAS friends may miss the challenge of facing down Worcester drivers, we hope that the benefits of life at 9 Regent Street will outweigh any disappointment that might be felt (in fact, several guests who have stayed in the house thus far have threatened not to leave). The same collegial sociability and scholarly interchange that characterized the fellowship experience at the Goddard-Daniels House will only increase at the new house, as more scholars—from a wider variety of disciplines and institutions—will be able to make use of AAS’s collections. So be sure to adjust your vacation plans in the coming year to allow you to see the latest addition to the AAS campus!