Here in Cambridge, we don’t do history for history’s sake. It isn’t enough to present history as events that happened. We need to dig deeper, and answer “so what?” and “who cares?” Our humanities-focused approach to tackling contemporary issues through conversation and perspective-taking is one we’re proud of.
Join us in making better citizens and a better city.
Catch up on the Cambridge Historical Society “In the News.”
The Cambridge Historical Society’s Brinkler Library is open for researchers by appointment. Please email or call to schedule your visit at least one week in advance. The Hooper-Lee-Nichols House is not accessible.
Office hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
For information regarding event space rentals, see below.
Parking on Brattle and neighboring streets is Cambridge Resident Permit only. There are three two-hour parallel parking spaces directly in front of the house for visitors to use.
Since 1957, the Cambridge Historical Society has been headquartered at the historic Hooper-Lee-Nichols House.
About our Headquarters: the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House
The Cambridge Historical Society is headquartered in the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House, the second oldest house in Cambridge and one of the oldest houses in New England.
Like any historic home, it has been changed by its residents over the years and modified repeatedly to meet the style of the day. While it primarily reflects the Georgian Style of the 18th century, parts of the original First Period construction remain and one can see Victorian and Colonial Revival alterations from later generations.
Marieke Van Damme, Executive Director
Maggie Hoffman, Archivist
Perri Meldon, Program Manager
The Cambridge Historical Society
159 Brattle Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
- Tod Beaty, PresidentPresident of IRB Real Estate, Tod Beaty is a 35-year resident of Cambridge and a graduate of Beloit College and of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. In 1981, Tod founded Ingram, Rettig & Beaty Real Estate, where he built the firm’s residential division before becoming President in 1990. In 1993, he joined forces with Hammond Residential’s Saul Cohen and Joe Hare to extend the firm’s reach in Greater Boston. Tod’s company has grown through a number of acquisitions that include the purchase of Ellis & Andrews, Cambridge’s oldest real estate firm, and the acquisition of Breed & Associates and Natoli Real Estate in Belmont. In 2016, Tod relaunched his business as IRB Real Estate, specializing in commercial real estate and property management in Cambridge and the surrounding areas. Tod is active in a range of community organizations including the Harvard Square Business Association, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, and the Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School. He is currently the president of the Cambridge Historical Society.
- Elizabeth Adams, Vice President
Liz was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Her love of all things historical began with exceptional teachers at the National Cathedral School for Girls. Her love of Cambridge began when she moved here in 1978 to attend Harvard College where she majored in American History and studied with Patricia Nelson Limerick, a noted historian of the American West. Liz received an MBA from the JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. She moved to Boston and worked as a Marketing Director for BayBanks, Boston Company and Fidelity Investments. “I love being a member of the Cambridge Historical Society which provides innovative programming on the history of Cambridge.”
- Doug Hanna, Vice President
Doug Hanna grew up in West Medford and Cambridge. He attended the Cambridge High and Latin School and U Mass Boston. For 38 years, he and his partner Alex Slive were the owners of the Cambridge-based company S + H Construction. They sold the company to one of their project managers in 2016. Doug has managed the restoration and renovation of many historic structures in Cambridge. Doug will continue working at S + H until June 2019, after which he will explore new ventures, as well as pursuing his other interests, which include guitar playing, biking and hanging out with his grandchildren. Doug’s love of history and his family’s deep roots in Cambridge, were instrumental in his involvement with the Cambridge Historical Society.
- Doug Brown, Secretary
Doug Brown was born and raised in Mystic, Connecticut, home of Mystic Seaport Museum. An American History major at Princeton, Doug arrived in Cambridge twenty years ago following stops in Maine, New Orleans, Colorado, Gloucester, and Hong Kong. Doug is active in local affairs, serving as an officer of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance, the recognized neighborhood association for West Cambridge. In addition, he also serves as co-chair of the City’s Climate Resiliency Zoning Task Force, as a member of the Envision Cambridge Alewife Working Group, as the organizer of the annual Standish Street Halloween Block Party, and is the founder of Friends of the Greenway, Inc., a non-profit focused on supporting the new Watertown-Cambridge Greenway path. Doug enjoys skiing, cycling, collecting old tools, and genealogical research. He lives in Huron Village with his wife Dee Elms and their three small children.
- Heli Meltsner, Curator
Heli Meltsner, has been a preservation consultant in Cambridge since 1980, except for a nine-year stint as a Planner for the Town of Framingham. Her book, The Poorhouses of Massachusetts: A Cultural and Architectural History, was published in 2012. She was one of the editors of Saving Cambridge: Historic Preservation in America’s Innovation City, published by the Cambridge Historical Society in 2013. Her new book, The Arts and Crafts Houses of Massachusetts: A Style Rediscovered, will be published in May 2019. She serves on the Avon Hill Neighborhood Conservation District Commission.
- Bruce Irving, Editor
Bruce Irving is one half of the Bigelow/Irving realtor team at Compass in Harvard Square, representing both buyers and sellers in and around Cambridge. He also runs his own consulting business, helping homeowners through the complex process of home renovation. He produced This Old House and its sister shows for 17 years; is the author of the book New England Icons, about the region’s built environment; writes about architecture for several publications, including Yankee and Design New England; and serves as vice-chairman of the Cambridge Historical Commission. He’s been in Cambridge since 1988 and lives with his wife in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood.
- Gus Alexander
Constantine (Gus) Alexander is Senior Counsel to the Boston law firm of Nutter, McClennen & Fish, having retired from that firm as a senior partner for more than 25 years. He serves on the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeals and currently is the Board’s Chairman. He also serves on the Board of Trustees and as the Secretary of Nichols College in Dudley, MA, and on the Board of Trustees and as the Treasurer of the Boston Chamber Music Society.
- Greg BoweGreg grew up in the Boston area. He has a keen interest in history and, while in high school, served the president of the local Historical Society. Greg has worked in banking for more than thirty years, and has worked for the last fifteen years with Cambridge’s 180-year-old Cambridge Savings Bank. He joined the Council in 2014, and looks forward to helping his fellow council members guide this organization as it moves forward.
- Amy Devin
A commitment to learning and a desire to share information have been the common threads in Amy’s education and career. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature, as well as an M.S. in Library and Information Science with a concentration in archives management. Amy moved to Cambridge in 2003 and became an active member of her neighborhood community. She has served on the Executive Committee of the Cambridgeport Children’s Center and volunteers at the Morse School. A love of old houses, especially the two she and her husband have owned, has led to many hours of research and many months of renovations. Amy lives with her husband and two young daughters in an old Victorian in Cambridgeport.
- Christina DeYoung
Christina DeYoung is Director of Sales and Marketing at the Harvard Education Publishing Group and will graduate with a degree in Museum Studies from Harvard Extension School in May 2017. She also received a Nonprofit Management Certificate from Duke University in 2015. In 2016, her love of public history led to an internship at the Cambridge Historical Society, and she has served on the communications committee ever since. Prior to studying at Harvard, she combined her love of education and history through roles at WGBH as marketing manager for PBSLearningMedia.org and the American History and Civics Initiative. Christina’s favorite Society events are the History Cafés because they “bring together a wide variety of ages and experiences in a relaxed setting (bar) to learn and talk about how history impacts our present and future.”
- Frank KramerFrank was born in Cambridge in 1941. In 1962 he took over the leadership of the Harvard Book Store an independent bookstore founded by his father in 1932. During the next 46 years the bookstore became a Harvard Square landmark and one of the leading independent bookstores in the United States. The bookstore was sold in October 2008. Since retirement, Frank has become active in community affairs. In 2006 Frank, along with Simon Shapiro, of Tag’s Hardware and several other local business owners co-founded Cambridge Local First, an alliance of locally owned independent businesses that actively champions the benefits brought to the community by locally owned businesses.
- Andy Leighton
- Ed Rodley
Ed Rodley is a lifelong resident of Cambridge. He received a BA in Anthropology from UMass Amherst and his MA in Historical Archaeology from UMass Boston. He is currently Associate Director of Integrated Media at the Peabody Essex Museum, where he manages a wide range of digital media projects, with an emphasis on temporary exhibitions and the reinterpretation and reinstallation of PEM’s collections. He has over 20 years’ experience developing engaging and educational museum experiences and is a recognized authority on the use of digital technologies in the gallery and beyond. His current interests involve incorporating emerging digital technologies into museum practice while building digital literacy and capacity among staff members. His museum career began in seventh grade, when he took part in a Museum of Science volunteer program for Cambridge Public Schools students. He and his wife live in Inman Square in the house he grew up in.
- Kyle Sheffield
Kyle is a native New Englander, Mid-Cambridge resident, and is a Principal at LDa Architecture & Interiors in East Cambridge. He focuses on designs that mediate between traditional New England architecture and the need for more diverse contemporary spatial relationships. Kyle received his undergraduate degree in Architectural Studies from Connecticut College, and his Masters degree in Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design. He serves on the Cambridge Historical Commission, and is a member of the Harvard Square Conservation District Study Committee. Kyle has great interest in the sociological component that the Cambridge Historical Society provides to the City’s architecture and environment.
- M. Wyllis Bibbins
- Kathleen Leahy Born
- Carol M. Cerf
- Robert G. Crocker
- Luise M. Erdmann
- Ted Hansen
- Chandra Harrington
- Swanee Hunt
- Jinny Nathans
- Larry Nathanson
- Alyssa Pacy
- Paula Paris
- Susan S. Poverman
- Maxwell D. Solet
If you are interesting in volunteering or interning with the Society, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and answer the following questions:
- What area are you interested in working in? (Archives, administration, programming, marketing, website & social media, or fundraising?)
- How many hours a week are you available?
- When do you want your project to begin and end?
- Do you have a resume you can send, or a LinkedIn page?
- Cambridge Historical Society Press Release: 2018 Fall Symposium, “Where is Cambridge From?” (Sept 2018)
- Cambridge Historical Society Press Release: Publication Award for The Cambridge Historian (July 2018)
- Cambridge Historical Society Press Release: History Café Series to Focus on “Where is Cambridge From?” (May 15, 2018)
- Cambridge Historical Society Press Release: The Cambridge Historical Society Wins AASLH Leadership in History Award for Program Excellence (September 14, 2017)
- Cambridge Historical Society Press Release: Upcoming “Common Goods” art workshop and History Cafe in Harvard Square June 15 (May 30, 2017)
- Cambridge Historical Society Press Release: The Cambridge Historical Society Annual Fundraiser a Success (May 11, 2017)
- Cambridge Historical Society Press Release: New Brand Identity (May 2, 2017)
- Cambridge Historical Society Press Release: New Council Members (April 24, 2017)
Rent the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House
The Hooper-Lee-Nichols House is one of the oldest houses in Cambridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1685 and transformed into a Georgian mansion in the 1730s, the house is an architectural and social history treasure.
Depending on the type of event, capacity ranges from 40-100 people. Please contact us to discuss your rental needs at 617-547-4252 or email@example.com.