When you think of Boston, you may think of modern traditions like the Marathon, Swan Boats at Public Garden, or the Green Monster at Fenway Park. But Boston is of course a region steeped in remarkable history of our country's founding: Plymouth Rock, our famous Tea Party, and the Shot Heard 'Round the World are just a few.
However, you may not know of a lesser-known event of the American Revolution—one which is officially recognized as a holiday in New England states only. Each year in mid-April, Boston and the surrounding communities gear up to celebrate Patriots Day, which commemorates the first Revolutionary War battles at Lexington and Concord.
The famous midnight rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes are re-enacted on this day, while everyday life in the late 1700's is depicted in historic buildings throughout the region. The Hartwell Tavern in Lincoln, and the Paul Revere House in our very own North End neighborhood are two of the many sites included.
The re-enactors who recreate these battles in colonial-era clothing take their jobs very seriously, with many staying in character between performances. A particular feature of their work is their clothing, which is deftly made by hand using traditional methods. One re-enactor interviewed by Boston Discovery Guide gives us a sense of the commitment involved:
"These are 'real' Colonial clothes, not 'costumes.' If you want your clothes to look right and fit right, you have to make them yourself . . . I made my own, by hand. I finally even learned how to do buttonholes - must have made 100 or more before I got it right. The trick is to use silk thread."
We at NBSS can appreciate the crafting of these garments, perhaps because of our shared dedication to authenticity, traditional trades, fine craftsmanship, and preservation of historical sites. It may come as no surprise that many of our students, faculty, and alumni at NBSS will be viewing—and participating in—many of the Patriot's Day festivities.
The story of how our country was born—the Colonies fighting for their independence and the subsequent waves of immigrants who helped to make America what it is today—is one worth preserving. The city, and NBSS, are deeply committed to preserving that history, along with the traditional trades and fine craftsmanship that helped build our country from the ground up.
Intrigued by the rich cultural heritage of Boston and beyond and love working with your hands?
At North Bennet Street School, our mission is to preserve time-honored crafts through education in programs such as Preservation Carpentry, Bookbinding, and Cabinet & Furniture Making, traditional furniture construction, and bookbinding.
At NBSS, everything we do is hands-on—not only in the classroom, but out in the field as well.
NBSS partners up with local non-profit museums and historical sites to provide our students with hands-on experience in keeping history alive. For example, New England's many pre 20th century buildings are the perfect field projects for our Preservation Carpentry program. Students learn traditional methods of construction using hand tools, from stabilizing and protecting historic structures to preserving or recreating architectural details. Students in our Cabinet & Furniture Making and Bookbinding programs similarly learn about respecting and preserving historic objects within their own fields of study. (As an example, check out this recent story on NBSS furniture makers partnering with the Trustees of Reservations.)
At NBSS, you'll learn the skills you need to become a preservation carpenter, bookbinder, or furniture maker in your own community.
Preserving historic landmarks, books, or furnishings takes a unique skill set. At NBSS, we provide you with the knowledge and hands-on experience you'll need to keep historic traditions alive and accessible for future generations.
If you're interested in exploring a career in fine craftsmanship, using time-honored skills alongside today's cutting edge technology, then check out our nine Full-Time Programs in the traditional trades and learn how they're still in demand today.
Images courtesy SFC Richard Ruddle, boston-140 on Flickr.