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$5,000 Historic House Campaign

Campaign to Preserve the Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House

March 27th – April 1st:  All donations matched dollar-for-dollar up to $5,000
by The Wenham Village Improvement Society!

Follow the Wenham Museum on Facebook at Facebook.com/WenhamMuseum to learn more about the historic Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House and the museum’s plans to integrate the house into the visitor experience–for both children and adults.

Click Here to Donate Now

To donate by mail, please download this form:  Donation Form-Matching Gift Campaign
All donations postmarked by April 1, 2019 will be included in the match.


Thank You to our Campaign Sponsor:





About the Campaign

Wenham Museum needs your help in preserving the Wenham Museum’s historic Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House. This First Period Colonial structure has stood in its present location since 1661. It is one of the oldest preserved homes of its kind in Wenham and in Essex County.

While the structure itself is significant for these reasons, the lives of its past residents provide important windows into history and raise thought-provoking questions that remain relevant to our lives today. Notable residents include:

  • Robert Mackclaflin (now “Claflin”), a Scottish prisoner of war who was sent to the Colonies against his will and indentured at the Saugus Iron Works. His story explores important themes regarding citizenship, class, and human trafficking.
  • Reverend Joseph Gerrish, minister of Wenham during the Salem witch hysteria, is an inspiring example of one who pursued justice and defended adherence to judicial process despite the popular sentiments of his day.
  • Elizabeth Richards Horton, the last child to grow up within the house, dedicated her retired life to community service. She used her passions and interests to fundraise for child-centric philanthropies.

Preserving the historic house and keeping it accessible to visitors is central to preserving and sharing the stories of those who lived there. The museum runs many popular school field trips about Colonial America that extensively use the house. We hope to expand our house-related offerings in the coming months and years to create engaging opportunities for older students and adults that delve deeper into the house’s under-utilized stories.

As you may know, stewarding a 360-year old historic home requires ongoing maintenance and costly preservation work. Over the last several years, the museum has raised $100,000 to meet the historic house’s deferred preservation needs. One of the last remaining urgent projects is re-painting the home’s exterior.

Re-painting the historic house is estimated to cost $17,000 in labor and materials. We are happy to share that the Wenham Village Improvement Society (WVIS) has generously granted the museum $5,000 towards this urgent need. WVIS is also willing to award an additional $5,000 if the museum is able to raise matching funds in the amount of $5,000.

Today, we need your help to raise $5,000 “as match” to WVIS’ generous offer. Every dollar you give will have double the impact, as your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar (up to $5,000) by WVIS. Would you make a generous contribution to help the museum reach this goal?

The house’s exterior is beginning to look—in a word—shabby. Although minor painting took place on the house’s north façade in 2017, significant exterior painting is needed to provide basic waterproofing for the clapboards and to improve the “curb appeal” of the house. We plan to re-paint the house during the 2019 painting season.

The Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House is a landmark of our downtown and it is one of the most significant historic structures those passing through Wenham will see. It also is the first part of the museum that greets visitors entering the Wenham Museum. We believe properly maintaining the Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House communicates our values about the importance of Wenham’s heritage—both as a museum and a community—to the wider world.

Time is of the essence in making your donation! WVIS will match all donations made from Wednesday, March 27, 2019 through Monday, April 1, 2019 up to $5,000.00. Please make your gift today either online or by mail.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request. The generous support of donors like you makes all the museum does possible. Wenham Museum is a vibrant, visible community and cultural resource and we are proud of the programming, events and exhibits that we are able to bring to the public with your help.

Your gift will ensure that the historic Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House remains a treasure of our community and a valued keeper of its stories. Please help us by making your gift today—and double your donation thanks to WVIS–and be assured that your contribution is greatly needed and much appreciated.

Thank You!


About The Wenham Village Improvement Society

The Wenham Village Improvement Society (WVIS) was founded by a dedicated group of women in 1893 to beautify the Town of Wenham and make it a better place to live. These traditions continue in WVIS’ present-day service to Wenham. Today, its mission is “To serve the changing needs of the Wenham community, while honoring the history and traditions of the Wenham Village Improvement Society.”

A special relationship has long existed between WVIS and the Wenham Museum, as WVIS founded the museum in 1922. Wenham Museum is honored to receive WVIS’ continued support and partnership in its mission. This historic house project in particular fosters a strong alignment between the museum’s mission to preserve local history and to educate the community and WVIS’ goals to preserve Wenham’s heritage, support education, and beautify our historic downtown.

To learn more about WVIS’ long legacy of service to our community, to become a member of WVIS, or to explore their scholarship and summer camp programs, please visit: www.wenhamvillageimprovementsociety.org.