Preservation Funds Distributed By Internet Vote

Facebook | Photos from Friends of St. Peter's Church, Dorchester, MA

“Help … give away $1 million in preservation grants to Greater Boston historic places” boast advertisements I’ve seen recently in Boston about a grant program sponsored by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The ads invite the public to visit the program website to vote for which of 25 historic sites should receive funds for historic preservation work.

Although the amount of funds guaranteed the winner is limited, the Partners in Preservation program is an interesting example of private example of online participatory budgeting, the growing practice of allowing the general public to determine funding priorities. Until May 17th, the general public can register online and vote once per day for which site deserve money for preservation. The winner is guaranteed funding for their preservation project (up to $100,000), and an Advisory Committee will determine how to distribute the rest of the $1 million, taking into consideration the voting results, “along with each historic place’s preservation and monetary needs.”

The top three leaders so far are Nantasket Beach’s Paragon Carousel, Old Salem Town Hall, and the Crane Estate. Other sites in consideration include a historic schooner in Gloucester, Paul Revere’s House, the New England Aquarium, and St. Peter’s Church in Dorchester (seen above). Although the website only contains a ranking, the Paragon Carousel seems to have drawn the most attention since Julian Koster, enigmatic head of the band Neutral Milk Hotel, has been campaigning for the funds to go to what he describes as a “beautiful machine that has been my dear neighbor for many moons.”

> For more information or to vote see: Partners In Preservation Boston

Photo of St. Peter’s Church in Dorchester uploaded to Facebook by Jillian Adams

Author: Rob Goodspeed