Since moving to their Topsfield, Massachusetts property in 2013, Eric Menzer and his wife had fallen in love with the historic timber frame barn included, constructed sometime in the mid-1800s. But by building standards, it was both terminally ill and dangerous. Time after time, quotes from various contractors for a restoration were more than the Menzers could pay. Sending the barn to its grave seemed like the only option until one contractor suggested NBSS. The Preservation Carpentry program took on the project at an affordable price.
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.
- Curriculum: Investigate what students learn over the course of the two-year program.
- Facilities: Virtually walk through the program spaces and bench rooms.
- Faculty: Meet our talented instructors, who are experts in their field.
- Tuition: Check out tuition, costs, class hours, schedule, and program length.
- Careers: Explore the variety of careers available to Preservation Carpentry graduates and the employment outlook.
- Profiles: Read about our alumni, including how an education at NBSS opened doors for them.
- Preservation Carpentry program brochure: Download at-a-glance details.
Admissions, Financial Aid, and Employment Information
Kyle Bernard PC '16 is the West Coast and Southwest Project Manager at HistoriCorps, a historic preservation organization. After college and service in the Navy, Kyle moved back to Boston and prepared for a legal career. But when he heard actor, comedian, woodworker, and NBSS Board member Nick Offerman describe NBSS at one of his shows, Kyle enrolled in the Preservation Carpentry program shortly after—and never looked back.
NBSS Preservation Carpentry students craft hand-built sheds each fall as part of their first-year curriculum, to practice basic construction techniques. You can own one of this year's sheds – there are two available for purchase now! Find out more details here.
In recent years, there has been an uptick in programs encouraging women to change their perception of the trades. These new and expanded strategies are an effort to help women see what was once a male-dominated industry as a viable career option. We explore the changing landscape of the building trades in this series – while also celebrating some of the talented women who began their careers at NBSS and are making an impact in their fields.
After graduating from NBSS, Tracy Chim Rines PC '09 went on to open her own business, TLC Woodworking. For the past ten years, she has specialized in making and restoring custom storm windows and doors. "I couldn't imagine doing something else with my life right now," Tracy says. "I am happy to go to work, and I look forward to spending time with my coworkers and being in my shop where I feel at ease. I remember when I was afraid to pick up the tools, and now it's just second nature." Meet a tradeswoman featured in our Women in the Building Trades series.
When it came time to restore a stone cottage – originally built by a World War I general – on his property in Westwood, a homeowner turned to our Preservation Carpentry faculty. The project's biggest challenge was restoring the building's over-sized door, which was also missing the key. This opened the door to a collaboration with Locksmithing & Security Technology faculty (and many others) to manufacture a one-of-a-kind key.
"Immediately after graduating, I was able to start my own company in Texas. We have grown into a well-respected contractor and historic millwork provider with clients across the country."
Brent Hull PC '93View More Preservation Carpentry Alumni Profiles