Cogswell School, Methuen Rail Trail Receive Essex Heritage Grants

Annie Harris, Essex Heritage CEO; Jaime DeSimone, Haverhill Community Arts & Education Foundation; and Jack Good, Essex Heritage president.

Plans to convert Cogswell School into a community art center and improvements at the entrance of the Methuen Rail Trail received boosts yesterday as the Essex National Heritage Commission awarded small grants to the projects.

Essex National Heritage Commission presented its 2015 Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program awards at its spring meeting in Lawrence. Over the next year, a total of 15 grant recipients will be working to implement a diverse range of educational, interpretive and preservation projects throughout Boston’s North Shore. The groups receive $1,500 each.

“We recognize the importance of supporting local organizations,” said Annie Harris, Essex Heritage CEO, “and we are proud that we are able to award 15 partnership grants again this year—we know that this seed money greatly impacts the region by leveraging more investments in Essex County.”

Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce Community Arts and Education Foundation plans to reuse the vacant 1891 Cogswell School as a community art center. Recently the group received a 3-year lease-to-purchase agreement with the city, and will use the Essex Heritage grant to plan and execute a community awareness campaign. Activities include creation of a brand identity, on-site signage, enhanced web presence and a fundraising prospectus.

Built downtown in 1907, the brick Methuen railroad depot is the starting point for many of the organized community activities taking place on the 2.4 mile Methuen Rail Trail. To enhance the user experience, the Methuen Rail Trail Alliance will use Essex Heritage funding to create a gateway setting around the depot. The project includes landscaping and the installation of wayfinding and interpretative signage describing the trail’s historical and present day links to mill buildings, the Spicket River Greenway, Nevins Bird Sanctuary and marshlands leading to the New Hampshire border.