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Winchester Historical Society Inc.

 15 High Street
 Winchester, MA 01890
[P] (781) 721-0135
[F] --
Rita Wong
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 23-7383040

LAST UPDATED: 01/04/2019
Organization DBA Winchester Historical Society
Former Names Winchester Historical and Genealogical Society (1898)
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No



Mission StatementMORE »

The mission of the Winchester Historical Society is to promote an awareness of Winchester’s history and share it with the community. The Society achieves its mission by collecting and preserving Winchester's historic records and artifacts; by its educational programs, exhibitions, and publications; and through its stewardship of the Sanborn Historical and Cultural Center, home for the Society and open to the community for exhibits, meetings, and events.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Winchester Historical Society is to promote an awareness of Winchester’s history and share it with the community. The Society achieves its mission by collecting and preserving Winchester's historic records and artifacts; by its educational programs, exhibitions, and publications; and through its stewardship of the Sanborn Historical and Cultural Center, home for the Society and open to the community for exhibits, meetings, and events.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2016 to Dec 31, 2016
Projected Income $81,000.00
Projected Expense $81,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Curation of Historical Collections
  • Public Programs
  • Publications on Winchester History
  • Sanborn House Historical and Cultural Center
  • Youth Programs

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

The mission of the Winchester Historical Society is to promote an awareness of Winchester’s history and share it with the community. The Society achieves its mission by collecting and preserving Winchester's historic records and artifacts; by its educational programs, exhibitions, and publications; and through its stewardship of the Sanborn Historical and Cultural Center, home for the Society and open to the community for exhibits, meetings, and events.

Background Statement

The people of Winchester have a long tradition of valuing and preserving their history. For many years, the Winchester Historical Society (the Society) has led these efforts as a membership group of volunteers whose mission is to promote an awareness of Winchester’s rich history and share it with the community. The roots of the Society extend back to 1884, when the Winchester Historical and Genealogical Society was established. It published The Winchester Record until 1898 and collected unique artifacts, maps, documents, and photographs, which now form the collections of the Winchester Archival Center and the Society. The Historical Society re-formed in 1933, incorporated in 1972, and, in 1975, when the Town funded an Archival Center, the Society became an active partner in the endeavor. A partnership continues today through the Collaborative for Documenting Winchester’s History. The Society offers public programs on the history of Winchester and the surrounding area and produces educational publications that range from its Black Horse Bulletin to its scholarly series on Architects of Winchester. Other publications include A Children’s History of Winchester, for use in Winchester’s local history curriculum for third graders; Winchester, Massachusetts: The Architectural Heritage of a Victorian Town; and Artists of Winchester. Additionally, the Society offers joint programs with the Friends of Winchester Public Library, Winchester Reads, Winchester Multicultural Network, Sustainable Winchester, and the Jenks Center. The Society uses its website and social media to reach out to the public with notices about programming and information about Winchester history; restoration progress and rental opportunities at the Sanborn House. In 2006, the Society signed a lease with the Town of Winchester to assume stewardship of the Sanborn House (House), located on the campus of Ambrose School. The lease commits the Society to restore the House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and to make it accessible to the community for meetings, lectures, exhibits, functions, and events. The Society funds the salary of a part-time site manager. Since the Town had not maintained the building, this is a financial challenge for the Society.

Impact Statement

Top Accomplishments of the past year:
  • Replaced an aging oil heating system with an energy-efficient gas system funded by a grant from the Cummings Foundation
  • Restored the stained glass window in the front entrance, one of the Town's greatest works of art, with a grant from the Arthur Griffin Foundation and private donations
  • Implemented the master historic landscaping plan with new plantings, trees, and a walkway that makes the verandah handicapped-accessible
  • Hired a Site Manager who has focused on increasing rentals to the building as part of the business plan 
  • Raised funds through membership dues, grants, and private donations to maintain membership services while upgrading the historic Sanborn House for public use. 
Goals for the coming year: 
  • Raise the funds for air conditioning to better attract year-round rental use and provide sound environmental conditions for storage of historical collections
  • Review the original Sanborn House feasibility study (2005) and update its strategic plan. Define a fundraising scenario that reflects sound fiscal management for both the restoration and continuing sustainability of the facility.
  • Expand educational programming for school-age children while continuing to increase membership and attendance at programs and events for adults.
  • Increase the Society’s visibility in the community through an exhibit program, improved website and use of social media, and increased collaboration with other non-profit groups

Needs Statement

The following improvements to the Sanborn House are needed immediately for the building to be operated efficiently and safely for Society and community use.
  1. Install air conditioning in the Sanborn House, enabling its use through the summer. Estimate: $200,000.
  2. Upgrade plumbing on the second floor to include one ADA-compliant bathroom and two additional bathrooms: $75,000.

Next phase

    1. Restore and re-install balustrades on the second floor roofs (these were removed when a new roof was installed): $90,000
    2. Restore or replace remaining windows and doors to match originals while improving energy efficiency: $200,000
    3. Long term: endowment for building maintenance and to subsidize use by local non-profit organizations

CEO Statement

While most towns in Massachusetts have historical societies, the Winchester Historical Society is distinctive for its age, its public/private partnership with the Town of Winchester, and its collaborative approach toward developing a community-wide strategy for the preservation of Town history. These are reflected in the Society's strong record of state, federal, and local foundation grants and the recognition of its efforts in publications and by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Until recently, Winchester was one of the few local historical societies in Massachusetts not to have its own building as a home for its collections and its activities. With the Sanborn House lease in 2006, the Society achieved this goal and has applied the same innovative and collaborative approach that marked its success with Town collections. Instead of creating a static interpretive museum that people visit only once, the Society is developing the Sanborn House as a center open to individuals for celebrations, by businesses for conferences, and non-profits for meetings and events. The goal is to develop this mix of uses and rental income stream to make the House sustainable for the Society and the town.

Board Chair Statement

The Society faces challenges as it develops the Sanborn House and expands its programming. I am proud of the way the board of directors has taken on responsibility for this expansion and how the Society itself, once a quiet group that held a couple of meetings a year for 20-30 people, has become a community leader with which other groups seek to partner.
The challenges are great as we balance use with historic preservation, but the potential for this grand building is even greater. Located on the Ambrose School campus, the building still maintains the boundaries of the original estate. Initial tasks included significant repair to a flat roof and costs to make the building handicapped-accessible. Volunteers have put countless hours into painting and repair and we’ve raised funds to solve the problems so that we can use the building for functions and events. The exterior has been restored through a Preservation Project Grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission. But the next stage - an efficient HVAC system - requires even more money and is not eligible for state grants.
I have been on the board of the Winchester Historical Society for many years and became president last year because I believe we have the potential to meet these challenges.

Geographic Area Served

In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.

Winchester, Massachusetts, 01890, and neighboring towns of Arlington, Lexington, Woburn, Medford, and Stoneham

Organization Categories

  1. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Historical Societies & Historic Preservation
  2. -
  3. -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Curation of Historical Collections

The Society has collected and preserved documents, photographs, and artifacts related to town history since the nineteenth century. Today the documents and photographs are housed in the Archival Center in Town Hall and the artifacts are in the Sanborn House. Following the lead of the Archives, the Society has begun to enter its collection into online catalog which will provide access to all Winchester historical collections, regardless of format or location, and stimulate increased donations.
Budget  $2,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Curatorial Work & Exhibitions
Population Served Adults Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Heightened awareness of the House and its programs has increased the number of donations. We will take a more active role in soliciting donations in the coming year. Redesign of the Society website has increased internet inquiries.
Program Long-Term Success  Long-term success will be increased access to collections by cataloging objects to modern standards, scanning photos, and tracking on PastPerfect, the database created by the American Association for State and Local History and widely used by smaller organizations. Access will be provided by Past Perfect On-line so that researchers can use our collections 24/7. The Society shares funding for the site and technical support with the Town Archives; the online catalog will merge the two collections.
Program Success Monitored By  The online catalog is currently available through the Town of Winchester website. We receive monthly reports of number of hits. The site has already received 1090 hits in 2013.
Examples of Program Success 
Highlights from this year’s donations include:
  • Two portraits of the Sanborn family, which are now on display in the House Library where they help interpret Winchester history
  • Hand-made sweaters worn by Maribel Vinson-Owen and her daughters in their skating competitions prior to their fatal flight to the Olympic trials in Lake Placid. The costumes are part of our textile collection and complement holdings of Vinson-Owen scrapbooks and memorabilia in the Archival Center.
  • The Society's Native American artifacts were included in the program, Digging up Winchester's Past, and on display for several months in Town Hall.
  • Thanks to a private donation, a charcoal drawing of Colonel Winchester, after whom the town was named, was conserved and reframed. It is now on display in the Oak Room in the Sanborn House.

Public Programs

The Historical Society offers 6-8 public programs related to the history of Winchester and New England each year. The Society also exhibits selections from its collections in the Sanborn House.
Budget  $1,500.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other History & Historical Programs
Population Served Adults Families
Program Short-Term Success  Short-term success is measured by attendance.
Program Long-Term Success  Winchester residents care about the quality of life in their community, and preservation of its architectural heritage and green space is very much a part of what they value, as seen in the recent town-wide meeting, "Winchester in Transition," sponsored by the Winchester Multi-Cultural Council. We have seen a change since the Society took over the Sanborn House. We are now routinely asked to participate in town-wide forums; are consulted by the Planning Board and Historical Commission, and are increasingly asked to co-sponsor programs.
Program Success Monitored By  Attendance and demographics are logged and return visits and inquiries are noted.
Examples of Program Success  Winchester Reads is a program where the entire Town reads a book, followed by a presentation by the author and a related public program. This year's book was Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. The Society prepared a related program entitled, “Digging Up Winchester's Past: Native Americans along the Mystic,” which included a display of local Native American stone tools and two talks. The audience numbered 100+, and included children as well as adults. The Society co-sponsored a lecture with Winchester Hospital in honor of its 100th year, focusing on the role of women in the foundation of the hospital. A popular program with high attendance.

Publications on Winchester History

The Society‘s publications target different audiences and facets of Winchester's history. These range from a newsletter, Black Horse Bulletin, to a scholarly monograph series, Architects of Winchester. We have published several books: Winchester, Massachusetts, Architectural History of a Victorian Town; Children's History of Winchester; and Artists of Winchester.
Budget  $2,500.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Publishing
Population Served Adults Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Continued use of the Children's History of Winchester in the third grade curriculum, also by sales of publications.
Program Long-Term Success  Greater knowledge of Winchester's history among its citizens.
Program Success Monitored By 
Number of newsletters circulated
Sales figures
Examples of Program Success 
The Black Horse Bulletin has a total distribution of 650 to members and Town officials.
Sales of the publications averages $1000 per year

Sanborn House Historical and Cultural Center

The Society serves as steward of the Sanborn House. This involves restoration and ongoing maintenance of the building, and rentals to individuals, businesses, and organizations.
Budget  $45,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Historic Preservation & Conservation
Population Served Adults Families
Program Short-Term Success  Increased use of the Sanborn House by a broader range of users.
Program Long-Term Success  The long-term success will be an income stream that matches operating costs so that Society can focus on expanded educational programming for the community. Preservation efforts will be measured by income from donations and grants to make significant improvements to the building infrastructure that support its use.
Program Success Monitored By  Feedback from surveys distributed to users and attendees at programs. Statistics analyzing number and types of use.
Examples of Program Success  Rentals for 2012 included fifteen groups from the community (Vinson Owen Parents, Winchester Boat Club, the En Ka Society, Winchester Public Library, League of Women Voters, and the Winchester Foundation for Educational Excellence) and one full-year rental for an artist studio.

Youth Programs

Youth Programs involve the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, neighboring Ambrose Elementary School, and interns from Winchester High School
Budget  $500.00
Category  Education, General/Other Extracurricular Arts & Culture
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Ambrose students, along with a parent who owns several local restaurants, have planted a garden on our grounds, raising vegetables which become their dinner project at the end of the growing season. Additionally, the Girl Scouts have worked with a local arborist to raise Baldwin Apple saplings (indigenous to Winchester) and begin to replant the original orginal on our grounds. An Eagle project involved research for the original carriage path and town spring, and marking a map for a footpath.
Program Long-Term Success  By increasing the number of children’s programs and working closely to enhance the third-grade curriculum for teachers.
Program Success Monitored By  Programs and participant numbers are tracked. We publish descriptions of the projects in our newsletter, The Black Horse Bulletin.
Examples of Program Success  During 2012 Girl Scout Lucy Yang earned her Gold Award (equivalent of Eagle Scout) by researching the history of the Sanborn House and creating an illustrated Sanborn House History - for Kids! She gave tours to students from Ambrose School and prepared a written version, which is now on the Society's website. We will continue to build upon the link with Ambrose School and offer programs at the House in connection with the third grade local history curriculum in spring 2014.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Our greatest challenge is to balance programs related to our educational mission with stewardship of the Sanborn House because our funding and volunteers are limited. We maximize our human resources through our collaboration with other organizations. We seek funds to upgrade the HVAC of the Sanborn House so that we can reduce operating costs and expand rentals, thereby freeing up funds for staff and programming.


CEO/Executive Director Mr. Thomas Sevigny
CEO Term Start May 2012
CEO Email
CEO Experience Boston College, BA, Major in Accounting, University of Wisconsin, MBA, School of Business Administration, Auditor, State Street Boston Corporation for 31 years with certification (Domestic and International) as a Certified Internal Auditor, extensive work for non-profit organizations: Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester: member of the Board of Directors and Governance Chair, Margaret Elizabeth Stephenson Fund, Inc., Association Montessori Internationale, New York: Board of Directors, Vice President and Board Member, Rotary Club of Winchester: Member and President, 2008-2009, Winchester Boat Club: Board Member for 11 years, Clerk/Secretary Jumelage (sister city Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, to Winchester, Massachusetts), Board Member Spirit of State Street Council: Member (volunteer group) of the Corporate Citizen Division of State Street Corporation in Boston, Winchester Historical Society: Board of Directors, President and Chair of the Board, 2012 - present class
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
Rebekah Beaulieu Jan 2010 Feb 2013

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Rita Wong Site Manager


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
Massachusetts Nonprofit Network 2013
American Association for State and Local History 2005
New England Museums Association (NEMA) 2005
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


Collaborative for Documenting Winchester History (Winchester Historical Society, Winchester Public Library, Winchester Town Clerk, Winchester Historical Commission, and Wright Locke Farm Conservancy): The Historical Society took a leadership role to establish this group, which coordinated the preservation of Winchester heritage collections. The society received two grants on behalf of the Collaborative: a Preservation Assistance Grant from the NEH to do a preservation needs assessment of combined collections (2005) and a Massachusetts Historic Records Advisory Board grant to survey archival collections and train staff to organization catalogues (2003). The final NEH report was posted on the NEH website as a model for town-wide collaboration. Winchester’s collaborative approach was cited as a model in the chapter on Collection Documentation and Collaboration in Melissa Mannon’s book, Cultural Heritage Collaborators: A Manual for Community Documentation (2010).

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

One of the challenges facing our organization is how best to utilize our limited financial resources to expand the Society's programs and use of the Sanborn House in ways that are sustainable. During the past three years, we had an Executive Director with historic preservation expertise who guided a major grant project that restored the exterior and made the entrance and first floor handicapped accessible. When she left to complete her doctoral dissertation, we examined our options and redefined the position in light of the skills we now need. As a result, we have begun the search for a part-time site Manager who will also handle community outreach and communications. A copy of the job description is included in "Other Documents." The society President, who has had extensive experience leading non-profit organizations, will serve as the Chair. Underlying much of our planning are the obligations of the lease that we signed with the Town for the use of the Sanborn House. In exchange for the use of the building, we made a commitment to restore the structure and make it available to individuals and organizations in Winchester. We are exploring options for cost recovery through rentals that will allow subsidies for non-profits but find ourselves limited by the lack of reliable heating for the winter or air conditioning in the summer. We have a master plan for upgraded HVAC systems that is our priority, now that ADA compliance has been achieved.

Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 0
Number of Part Time Staff 1
Number of Volunteers 21
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % --

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 0
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 1
Male: 0
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration No

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A


Board Chair Mr. Thomas Sevigny
Board Chair Company Affiliation State Street Corporation, retired
Board Chair Term May 2014 - Dec 2020
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Robert Colt Political Consultant Voting
Ms. Electra Govoni BNY Mellon --
Ms. Ann Hibbard Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Erni Ravanis Community Volunteer --
Mr. Thomas Sevigny State Street Corporation, retired Voting
Mr. Robert Tedesco Lawyer in private practice Voting
Ms. Susan Turpin Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Kristen Ward Self-employed Voting
Ms. Courtenay Williams Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Hilda Wong-Doo Fidelity Corporation Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 9
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 7
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 67%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 95%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • --
  • Board Governance
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Executive
  • Facilities
  • Finance

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

In only eight years, the Society has evolved from a small group of volunteers sponsoring 2-3 programs/year to a Board with one part-time staff member offering a range of education and public programs while managing and preserving the Sanborn House for the use of the community. This has required adoption of governance practices as seen by the attached policies. During the past year, we have worked on our business plan, expanding rentals to maker our operational costs self-sustaining. Next steps will involve review of the feasibility study that has guided our development of the Sanborn House, revision of the business plan in light of our experience with rentals, and incorporation of the findings of a recent NEH study of archival storage needs. The end product will be a strategic plan to form the basis for a fund-raising campaign, assuring the long-term sustainability of both programs and the building to house them.

Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $116,782 $63,714 $78,771
Total Expenses $76,229 $76,816 $70,254

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $60,317 $20,152 $34,564
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $43,027 $32,109 $29,312
Investment Income, Net of Losses $1,108 $-542 $-220
Membership Dues $12,330 $11,995 $14,875
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- $240
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $64,936 $73,743 $66,608
Administration Expense $3,690 $3,073 $3,646
Fundraising Expense $7,603 -- --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.53 0.83 1.12
Program Expense/Total Expenses 85% 96% 95%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 13% 0% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $561,052 $520,499 $533,601
Current Assets $93,277 $59,958 $74,217
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 --
Current Liabilities $0 $0 --
Total Net Assets $561,052 $520,499 $533,601

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates Jan - Dec
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities inf inf inf

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in charts and graphs are per the organization's financial reviews. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?


2. What are your strategies for making this happen?


3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?


4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?


5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?