Keeping step with those who fought for American independence on April 19, 1775 are the Friends of Minute Man National Park.
Running along Battle Road in the towns of Concord, Lincoln, and Lexington, the Minute Man Historical National Park spans more than 1,000 acres and welcomes nearly a million visitors annually from around the world. Exploring the trails year-round that connect the historical sites through fields and woods, one can imagine the very different scene where the first shots of the Revolutionary War took place.
Formed more than 30 years ago and led today by Executive Director Kathleen Fahey and the board of directors with members from the surrounding communities, the non-profit Friends of Minute Man meet regularly with the Superintendent of the Minute Man Historical National Park, Simone Monteleone.
“We are proud to support our park and supplement its historical programs with bird walks, garden tours, and park clean-up days,” said Fahey.
Fahey, who works part-time and is the only employee of the Friends, has an office at the headquarters in the North Bridge Visitor Center. In addition to leading projects in accordance with the park’s needs, she writes grants and organizes appeals to the funds to support the annual Patriot’s Day commemorative activities and battlefield restoration projects at the park.
The Friends of Minute Man work with the park regarding logistical details for events, organizing the hundreds of reenactors and workshops they need for fine-tuning skills such as how to use the period firearms.
Donations through fundraisers and grants help sponsor important projects such as the recent restoration of the Parker’s Revenge Battlefield. As detailed on the Friends of Minute Man website, they “raised over $300,000…for the “comprehensive archaeological research rehabilitation of the battlefield, trail design and the creation of an interpretive exhibit for Park visitors…”
A recent grant was used to buy a “fowling piece” (a long-barreled type of musket) and the gunpowder used in it, which the staff uses for live demonstrations at the annual reenactments. As Fahey stated, the authentic smell and gunpowder is “historically appropriate” and gives people a sense of “what the colonists used.”
With donations from the Meriam family and others, the Friends of Minute Man support the preservation of the Meriam House, located at “Meriam’s Corner” where the retreating British were attacked by local militiamen on their way back to Boston. There are other ongoing preservation efforts and upkeep of the other dwellings that bore witness to the bloodshed in the farms and fields located in the Minute Man Historical National Park.
Another recently completed project includes the restoration of the historic Buttrick Gardens which beginning in late May are in their full glory with iris, peonies and award-winning daylilies. This was funded in large part thanks to a grant request fulfilled by the Community Preservation Committee.
On the Friends of Minute Man website is a Minute Man Soldier Search, a fascinating research tool where one can search through the database of “militiamen, companies, and towns that participated in the opening battles of the Revolution…”
Grants, four major annual appeals, sponsorships and memberships are the major source of financing to help create this authentic representation of the scene from the 1770s – right down to such details as the wooly sheep who contentedly graze at various locations throughout the park.
The sheep have their own fundraiser with their wool made into fedora hats by sheep volunteer, Martine Gorlier, whose custom hats “reflect the color of the sheep it was made from…” As Fahey wrote in a blog article on the Friends of Minute Man website, Gorlier “donates one hundred per cent of the sales to the Friends of Minute Man….with the donated funds restricted for the care and maintenance of these Ouessant sheep.”
In addition to financial support, Park Days provides an opportunity for volunteers to help clean and prepare the park and its trails for Patriot’s Day and the upcoming season.
More information about what the Friends of Minute Man National Park do and how one can help through membership, donations or volunteering are found on www.friendsofminuteman.org. Signing up for the newsletter with current information and dates of events can also be found on this website