For Michael Maler, old homes can offer a window to our past. A former site interpreter at the Paul Revere Memorial Association, Maler was recently tapped as Historic New England’s regional site manager for metro Boston to oversee three 18th-century estates. Maler chatted about those, as well the Bauhaus-style Gropius House in Lincoln.
The properties you handle—the Otis House, the Lyman Estate in Waltham and Winslow Crocker House in Yarmouth Port—were all built during Paul Revere’s lifetime. That’s a very good point. It’s not so much the history, specifically, of any one house, but it’s the history of Boston over time.
Do you have a favorite? There are different things about each that I love. The Otis House has a great Federal history and it’s a great segue into the history of Boston. … The Lyman Estate in Waltham was a country estate. It has gardens and a greenhouse. … And Winslow Crocker is really a collections house—the original owner was an antiques collector.
How much are the neglected, but critical, servants’ quarters discussed during tours? The challenge is that the servants’ quarters are difficult to get to. But the kitchens, for example, are a great opportunity, with the back stairs, to tell those stories.
The Gropius House is having a moment alongside Bauhaus. What makes it so interesting? It is different architecturally. Walter Gropius was the founder of the Bauhaus movement in Germany, and when things got politically uncomfortable in Europe he came here. … It’s definitely that Bauhaus aesthetic, but he’s woven in so many of the traditional New England architectural elements. … The curved staircases are Bauhaus in design, but not unlike a lot of the stairs in our Federal mansions.