Museum receives National Endowment for the Humanities grant

Circa 1875 photo of the Jeremiah Lee Mansion (left) and brick building (right) before it was raised 5 feet in 1888. Marblehead Museum collection. Photo by Lauren McCormack

The Marblehead Museum has been awarded a $40,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to help fund exhibit planning for a brick building, which the Museum purchased in 2021, adjacent to the Jeremiah Lee Mansion.

The Endowment a federal agency dedicated to supporting research and education activities in history, literature, philosophy, or humanities to identify peer-reviewed proposals from all over the country. The Marblehead Museum is one of 15 museums that were awarded the grant this cycle.

The exhibits will feature, among other things, rarely known stories about enslaved people who lived in Marblehead, including in the brick building that will host the exhibit, and the maritime communities of the North Shore.

“The Museum is excited and honored to receive this grant,” said Lauren McCormack, executive director of the Marblehead Museum. “This funding will allow us the opportunity to engage with the sources, work with the leading scholars and consultants, and ultimately produce engaging and meaningful exhibits and visitor experiences in the Lee Mansion, Brick Kitchen, and the surrounding property.”

According to a press release from the Marblehead Museum, the display will also include a reinterpretation of the Lee Mansion and Estate to incorporate the experiences of all those who lived and worked on the property during the late colonial era, including enslaved people.

The brick building purchased by the Marblehead Museum in 2021 was used by Jeremiah Lee, a colonial merchant, as a detached kitchen, coach house, and slave quarters. The Marblehead Museum’s purchase reconsolidated all of Lee’s original property together.

From 2021 onward, the staff of the Marblehead Museum has studied the brick house and its surrounding history with archeologists, architectural historians, and scholars.

A current view of the brick building constructed for Jeremiah Lee in 1766 to serve as the kitchen, coach house, and slave quarters for his adjacent mansion.

The project incorporates an 11-person advisory panel of scholars from all over the country who have studied the experiences of enslaved people in the Northeast. Community stakeholders and educators, as well as the museum staff, will work alongside Kristin Gallas of MUSE Consulting and Proun Design, a Boston-based design firm, to put together the exhibit.

Since 1909, the Marblehead Museum has been maintaining and operating tours of the Lee Mansion. The mansion is considered one of America’s most renowned examples of Georgian architecture.