Preservation Carpentry

The comprehensive Preservation Carpentry program teaches the time-honored skills and values of fine craftsmanship. Our students share a love of history, materials, quality workmanship, and working with their hands to build, restore, and preserve beautiful structures that last.

The two-year program combines an introduction to contemporary residential construction with a foundation in pre-20th century New England home construction. You’ll learn a broad range of construction methods, including stabilizing endangered buildings, preserving architectural details, and recreating historical design elements. Through lectures, hands-on projects, and collaborative field work, you’ll gain an understanding of how current technology compares to traditional techniques. You’ll graduate with the skills needed to work with contractors and institutions specializing in preservation work, including historical millwork and interior finish carpentry.

The program space includes first and second year bench rooms, where each student is assigned a bench and work space, and a central machine room. New England’s rich historical legacy of pre-20th century buildings provides exceptional field projects. Such site work is often done in collaboration with non-profit museums and historical sites.

In addition to the Full-Time program, we offer a number of woodworking and carpentry courses through our Continuing Education Department. View all CE courses here.

Preservation Carpentry Faculty

Steven O'Shaughnessy PC ’99

Steven is a graduate of our Preservation Carpentry program, teaches first-year students, and is head of the department. He worked for Historic New England for six years as a carpenter. During this time, he supervised NBSS students as summer interns. He earned a Historic New England President’s Award through his work with second-year NBSS students on the preservation of the Pierce House in Dorchester. He has also served as an instructor for Boston YouthBuild’s preservation carpentry component. Steven has guided first-year students through restoration work on many historic properties in the Boston area, including the 1713 Old State House. In 2010, his class saved an 18th-century two-bay English barn from demolition in Hanover, MA.

Michael Burrey

Michael is the second-year instructor for the Preservation Carpentry Program. He specializes in timber-frame joinery and has researched and re-created 17th century methods of roof thatching, interior walls, and paint finishes. After studying Early American and Colonial Life as an undergraduate, he worked as an Interpretive Artisan at Plimoth Plantation researching and interpreting colonial building techniques. In 1999, Michael established MLB Restorations in order to work on the restoration and preservation of historic buildings and to encourage the design of new structures in harmony with traditional and sustainable building methods. His carpentry skill has been recognized by his selection in 2014 by the Historic Royal Palaces to carry out the hewing and squaring of new timbers to be used in the repair of the Tower of London.

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Our PC program covers the following topics:

  • Basic math for carpenters
  • Identification and measurement of materials
  • Architectural drawings, shop drawings, blueprint reading, and full-size layouts
  • Documentation and research of historic structures
  • Hand tool selection, care, and use
  • Machine tool woodworking; stationary and portable equipment
  • Project management and estimating
  • Geometric layout for shop and construction
  • Principles and procedures in residential construction
  • Building code requirements
  • Traditional architectural components: timber framing, exterior finish, door and window layout and construction, roofing systems including wood and slate, moldings
  • Window sash and frame-and-panel doors
  • Material sources
  • Conceptual overview of American architectural history
  • Pre-20th-century building technology
  • Preservation/conservation practice
  • Traditional masonry: brickwork, mortars, and plasters
  • Mechanical systems for historic buildings

Hours & Tuition

  • Students are admitted in September.
  • The maximum enrollment is 26 students.
  • Classes typically meet 7:30 am - 2:30 pm, Monday - Friday, September - May, although when working on site, 4-day weeks with longer days are common.
  • The program length is two, nine-month academic years (72 weeks or 2340 class hours***).
  • Students who complete the program receive a Diploma of Preservation Carpentry.
  • Tuition is $25,300* per year totaling $50,600**, with the option of making 18 monthly payments of $2,811.
  • The estimated cost of hand tools is $3,700
  • The estimated cost of books is $250.
  • Students are responsible for materials for their own projects.
  • Students are responsible for their own transportation to site work and class trips.
  • Students who complete the program receive a Diploma of Preservation Carpentry.

Visit the Financial Aid page for more details.

*The tuition rate is for students entering North Bennet Street School between September 2017 and June 2018

**North Bennet Street School reserves the right to increase tuition in the second and subsequent years of a course. If the school does increase tuition for a course in subsequent years, that increase will not exceed 7.5% of the previous year’s tuition. Should the school exercise its right to increase tuition, the school must give the student a minimum of ninety (90) days written notice prior to the effective date of the increase and a new enrollment agreement will be executed.

*** Class hours equals clock hours.


We accept qualified applicants throughout the year. PC students start the program in September and the maximum enrollment is 26 students.

The program challenges students at all levels, from novice to advanced. However, previous woodworking or preservation studies experience is always helpful.


We encourage students to hone their skills and explore areas of specialization during their summer break. Typical summer jobs include historic house museums, preservation societies like the Trustees of Reservations, and various private contractors.

Gainful Employment

PC students work with an array of employers, including non-profit museums, preservation publications, educational programs, custom millwork and casework companies, the National Park Service, and private contractors. Many graduates become self-employed and specialize in preservation/restoration work.

Learn more about preservation carpentry careers here.

View the School's gainful employment report for Preservation Carpentry here.

Note: Due to privacy concerns, on-time completion rates are withheld when fewer than ten students in a graduating class received Title IV, or "federal," financial aid during their enrollment at NBSS. Because our programs are small, this information may be withheld or appear low in any given year.

Typical earnings rates are based on the earnings of our graduates as reported to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and therefore may not be an accurate reflection of potential earnings in a given field.
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Contact Rob O'Dwyer, Director of Admissions, at 617-227-0155 x111 or

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