When a Topsfield, Massachusetts resident wanted to restore his historic barn, a structure he felt "represented the character and spirit" of his town, he turned to North Bennet Street School for help. Preservation Carpentry students disassembled the barn, refurbished as many pieces as they could, replaced what they couldn't, and reassembled the barn on the owner's property. The job not only offered a learning opportunity to students, but helped a homeowner preserve a local historic structure at a cost that he could afford.
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, and class hours.
- 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.
- Admissions Info: How to get your application started and what you need to apply.
- Financial Aid: Your education is an investment. Learn about our financial aid options.
- Preservation Carpentry program brochure: Download at-a-glance details.
"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
Students from the Preservation Carpentry program were commissioned to build a full-scale reproduction of the decorative entryway of the long-gone Hancock Mansion as part of an exhibit that ran through December 2018 at the Old State House. The star of the exhibit was the opulent home's original front door, which recently emerged from storage. Recreating the fine details of the structure around the door—using just old photographs and illustrations—was a feat. The team of students spent months working on hand-carved brackets, ten-foot-tall wood columns, and heavy timber frames.
In October 2014, Hollis Webb PC '18 came back to his home town on Nantucket, Massachusetts, after serving in the U.S. Army. An admiration for the historic buildings on Nantucket and for his father, a carpenter, led him to study Preservation Carpentry at NBSS. Hollis and his classmates (including several other military veterans) formed a tight-knit group over two years, building a similar sense of teamwork and camaraderie that he'd valued in the military. His story was recently featured in the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror.
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 hand-crafted sheds – there are two available for purchase! Find out more details here.
The Fowler Clark Epstein Farm in Mattapan culminates a $3.7 million investment in historic preservation and many hard years of work by NBSS Preservation Carpentry students and project partners. Read more about the dedication ceremony here.
Students from our Preservation Carpentry program have been commissioned to build a full-scale reproduction of the surrounding entryway to the long-gone Hancock Mansion, which will go on exhibit in the Old State House in June 2018. Read an excerpt about the detailed research process of the project, written by the Collections Manager of The Bostonian Society.