New Study Says Longfellow Legacy in "Fair" Condition

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   August 16, 2005
Contact:   Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, P: 202-454-3332


New Study Says Longfellow Legacy in "Fair" Condition

Washington, D.C. - A new report today by the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) says that the historic Longfellow National Historic Site in Cambridge, Mass., is in “fair” condition. A congressional field hearing in Boston next week will review the condition of national parks in the northeast, including Longfellow.

“The Longfellow house has a first-rate cadre of staff and supporters,” said NPCA Vice President for Government Affairs Craig Obey, “but they can’t do it all. Congress and the administration need to do their part to address the funding shortfalls that are crippling America’s heritage.”

According to NPCA’s new State of the Parks assessment, the Longfellow house, grounds, and extensive museum collection are in “fair” condition, scoring a 72 out of 100. An annual shortfall of $400,000 prevents the National Park Service from filling key maintenance and curatorial positions, affecting the condition of the historic site and its many treasures, some of which are stored in attics without proper environmental controls. Insufficient funding has also caused the park to be closed eight months of the year¾restricting access for visitors and school groups¾and only open five days a week during the summer season.

NPCA is concerned that this funding shortfall undermines the significant progress and financial investments made by the park’s successful friends group, dedicated volunteers, local organizations and universities, and the park’s congressional delegation, to preserve the site over the past few years.

In July, Congress passed the fiscal year 2006 budget for the National Park Service with a 3 percent cut.

Next week, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), Chairman of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee, is holding a field hearing at Faneuil Hall in Boston to review the funding needs of national parks in the Northeast, including the Longfellow house.

The Boston hearing is the third in a series of congressional hearings -— the first focused effort by Congress in decades to examine national park funding needs in-depth, and to identify solutions to meet the challenges. Information gathered during the hearings is being used by Congressman Souder to establish a comprehensive record of the needs and challenges facing the nation’s parks -— one that mirrors and expands upon existing data gathered from other sources.

Designated Longfellow National Historic Site in 1972, this historic mansion, built in 1759, was home to one of the world’s foremost poets, scholars, and educators, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who lived here from 1837 until his death in 1882. Other notable occupants included George Washington, who used the home as his headquarters during the early months of the American Revolution 1775-1776, and plotted strategy with his generals here during the Siege of Boston.

NPCA launched the landmark State of the Parks program in 2000 to assess the health of national parks across the country. The product of a year-and-a-half-long analysis, “Longfellow National Historic Site: A Resource Assessment,” is the 25th NPCA State of the Parks report.

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