A Letter from the Friends of Maudslay President

August 28, 2020
Dear Friends of Maudslay,

In a year that has called upon us all to dig deep and evaluate our own priorities and our concern for others, when we face the challenges of a novel virus and inequities worldwide, we learn that nature is still working hard, filling our days with joy, especially in Maudslay State Park. 

As most of you have learned, there are no planned programs being offered in the park this year because of the virus and we miss the MAC programs, the interpretive classes, and TITO performances. If there is to be a sculpture show in September, it will be reduced in size while the Haunted Trails event in October is most likely cancelled.   But people are finding ways to spend their free time after either returning from a job deemed essential thus risking exposure to the virus or from the luxury of working/staying at home.  In my recent strolls, I’ve encountered people on bikes, horses or on foot, all donning masks and taking in the quietude of the 18 miles of trails.  Others are picnicking on one of the open fields or along the river.  Still others find solitude working at an easel or with a camera to commemorate their experience. 

There are a number of articles in this newsletter that should pique the interest of the readers.  Kevin Allen from DCR writes about the Curatorship Program at Maudslay, one of the largest in the state, that maintains these historic buildings at a savings to the tax payer.  Rob Kovacs, Park Supervisor, explains the park’s field maintenance practices that preserve spaces for birds, pollinators and people.  A local photographer has submitted a photo of the Comet Neowise taken in the park and we are featuring Diane, a volunteer in Maudslay who is a Massachusetts Master Gardener and since 2016 has worked around the pond and other areas in the park clearing invasive plantings as well as pruning rhododendrons, azaleas and the espalier apple tree in the court yard.
To update you on the progress we are making through our efforts with DCR, the dam reconstruction is now tentatively slated to begin in December and plans are being finalized for the rebuilding of the collapsing wall in the Italian/Rose Garden.  If you find you are able to support one of these projects through the Friends of Maudslay, you can become a member or donate either on line or by writing a check to MSPA and mailing to Maudslay State Park Association, 74 Curzon Mill Road, Newburyport, MA 01950. 
Thank you for all of the positive feedback we have received both for the newsletter and the volunteer work that we organize in the park/gardens.  Enjoy the park and stay safe.
Marlys Edwards
President, Friends of Maudslay

Neowise Comet at Maudslay
After a couple of less than successful attempts at photographing the Neowise comet locally, I decided to try a spot I had found at Maudslay State Park. I set up in the big field across the street from the parking lot about an hour after sunset, aiming my camera to the northwest where I knew the comet would be.  It was a bit tricky because the comet was not visible to the naked eye, and clouds kept moving through, so I had to take a shot, try to locate the comet on my camera’s display, and then move until I had the comet in an interesting location and then hope for a break in the clouds. It was tricky moving around that field in the pitch dark, but I was happy with the image I ended up with!

Chris Lutton

Master Gardener Volunteer At Maudslay

Diane is a lifetime master gardener with the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association (MMGA).  She is part of a group of master gardeners who have been volunteering in the park for the past several years.  Educated as a medical laboratory scientist, the majority of her prior work experience beyond her hospital work was as a senior instructor, program manager, and consultant in the medical instrumentation and computer industries.  Though a native of Massachusetts, Diane was certified as a master gardener in North Carolina, where she was living at the time.  She also earned a certificate in landscape gardening before she became a master gardener.  Now she volunteers in a number of spectacular gardens in the state where she can often be found with either pruners or a pruning saw in hand.

Diane has spent many hours with other master gardeners at Maudslay pruning the flowering azaleas and rhododendrons at various spots the park.  These beautiful specimens can be found around the reflecting pond and along a number of roads and paths.  They were planted decades ago and pruning encourages new growth and flowering.  A few times a year this also includes the apple espalier in the formal garden.  It can be found against a stone wall in this garden.  This work is so rewarding!  A few hours of work makes such a difference.  And being outside in this beautiful place is a great way to spend a day!


Theater in the Open
Every year, for thirty-three years, Theater in the Open has performed in Maudslay State Park.  It is deeply painful for us not to do so this year.  We miss our audience and our process and the magic that derives from being in the same place at the same time with a community in Nature.  But we know that this will pass in time.  Someday this threat will diminish and DCR will be able to issue permits again, and we will appreciate this park, and this tradition, all the more when we can finally return.
In the meantime we are very busily adapting all of our traditions to this new reality, from performing online to developing and executing Zoom-based arts education for 9 weeks this summer.  We are not quite ready to announce what Maudslay is Haunted will look like this year, as there will be no permits for any kind of performance in the park, but we promise to keep the tradition alive this year, and look forward to announcing our plans soon.
While we are not able to perform in the park, we have all been taking solace in personal trips into these beloved acres, spending time with the ghosts of past shows and pausing under a tree or by the water to dream of future productions.  We are, as always, deeply grateful to DCR for their mission, to the park staff for their dedication and exemplary work, and to you, all of the friends of Maudslay, for your passion and support.  
Please be well, and we'll see you in the Open someday soon.
Edward F. Speck
Artistic Director
Theater in the Open
Maudslay Fields: Past and Present
During the Moseley Estate era, the fields were used for pastures, hay, corn, and wildflowers. When the Commonwealth of Massachusetts purchased the property in 1985, and made it a state park, the fields began to be maintained as open space and no longer for agricultural use. However, a small pasture was set aside for grazing cows which to this day is enjoyed by park visitors.
The fields in Maudslay comprise nearly 20% of the park’s acreage. They are maintained to preserve the pastoral character and aesthetic appeal along with providing recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat. To provide the best conditions for pollinators, birds, and other wildlife, the majority of the fields are not mowed until the late summer or autumn.

Recently, a pollinator habitat initiative, which has been implemented statewide, was introduced here at the park. It is a formal program aimed at conserving habitats in selected fields. The program is done in partnership with various state agencies and non-profit organizations. Signage will be placed at designated locations. This is a new and exciting conservation feature for visitors to observe and enjoy. 
Robert A. Kovacs
Park Supervisor
Maudslay State Park

An Explanation of the Curatorship Program

DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program is an innovative preservation initiative that aims to preserve some of the Commonwealth’s most significant and threatened historic structures. Since 1994, the program has leveraged over $30 million of outside investment into endangered properties from the Berkshires to the Cape.  In total 25 properties are under lease for uses that range from nonprofits and single family residences to cafes, mountaintop lodges and event venues.  Around 60 properties have been added to the program’s legislation since its founding in the mid 1990s.  New properties must be added through a legislative amendment, approved by both houses of the Legislature and signed by the Governor.  A typical property is one with a high level of historic significance to the park, community, state or nation, and are deemed to be surplus to DCR use.  In many cases, these underused buildings are dangerous liabilities threatened by vandalism, animals and the elements.  Curators are selected through an open and competitive process, and because of the enormous burdens and risks assumed by taking on these projects, Curators with the right skills, resources and determination are not easy to find. 

 Gatekeeper's House
We are lucky to have found Curators for four of Maudslay’s important historic resources: the c.1890s Bell House, the c. 1800 Farmhouse, the c. 1901 Coachman’s House and the 1901 Gatekeeper’s House, representing over a million dollars of investment to date into interior and exterior improvements and site security.  Because of its former role as an estate, Maudslay has more historic structures than most DCR parks, and the program looks to balance public recreational access with the crucial task of fulfilling the cultural resource conservation element of DCR’s mission.  These partners have committed over 125 years of commitment to help save the unique built history that contributes to Maudslay’s unique historic landscape and help DCR fulfill its many faceted conservation and recreational mission.  Find out more about the Curatorship Program at 
Kevin Allen
Historic Curatorship Program Manager
Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
Maudslay Arts Center Facing Financial Crunch

It was a difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Maudslay Arts Center Summer Concert Series. For most of us, it wasn’t summer without music at MAC with family and friends.
“While we were just as upset as you were,” MAC Music Director Nicholas C. Costello said, “we knew deep down this was the right decision to make for the safety of our patrons, musicians, and volunteers. We thank our artists and regret we could not support them during this difficult time. We felt it was necessary to err on the side of safety.”
Now we are faced with a financial crisis.
“We cancelled the season, but our expenses still exist,” Costello said. “We will continue to make upgrades and improvements and as a result there is not a bad place to sit at Maudslay. On the lawn, patio or inside the concert venue, the acoustics are wonderful and will be again when we can safely resume our series.”
MAC is best known for its outstanding summer concert series, but it is a popular setting for special events such as weddings, corporate functions, educational activities, reunions, and more. This year those had to be cancelled, too, and all deposits were returned. As a result all our income from ticket sales and events vanished.
“We thank our volunteers and our donors for their endless support over the years and during this difficult time,” he said. “We are grateful to our community especially The Newburyport Bank, but we are now faced with just maintaining Maudslay Arts Center. We are making whatever cuts possible, but it may not be enough to keep us going until next season.”
If you are able to support Maudslay Arts Center in this time of crisis, please visit to make a gift or write a letter of support. All 2020 gift certificates will be honored during the 2021 season.
“You have stepped up time and again over the years,” Costello said, “and we look forward to a time when we can all gather together again at Maudslay Arts Center. Until then, be safe. We miss you.”

Copyright © 2020 Maudslay State Park Association, All rights reserved.

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