Help us preserve and share Hingham’s history by joining the effort to restore the 1818 Old Derby Academy building and launch the Hingham Heritage Museum.
Since opening Old Derby to the public in 2008, the Historical Society has brought new life to a structure that had stood virtually empty and unused since the 1960s. Thousands now visit Old Derby annually to attend meetings and events, volunteer, shop, or explore their heritage. With growth and change, however, have come new challenges. Limited climate control and storage space and lack of handicapped facilities are preventing us from making the most of Old Derby and our noteworthy archival and artifact collections.
F A Qs
What is Old Derby and where is it?
Located at 34 Main Street, Old Derby was built in 1818 as one of the first co-educational day schools in the nation. Students attended school there for 148 years before it was sold in 1966. Today, Old Derby is the headquarters facility for the Hingham Historical Society.
How will it work?
Essentially, Old Derby’s 2nd floor ballroom will become a full time exhibit hall for artifact displays and programs about Hingham’s long and rich history. Portable exhibits will be able to move into new storage areas to make room for events and private rentals. Additions to the back of the building will enhance the Visitor Center, and add handicapped facilities, storage and work space for volunteers.
What kind of improvements need to be made?
A fire suppression system, climate control, upgraded security and handicapped accessibility will make Old Derby user-friendly and available to all Hingham’s residents. At the same time the Society will strengthen parts of the building that have worn out while restoring certain parts that were remodeled in the 20th century.
Is the Society ready for this type of undertaking?
The Hingham Historical Society has doubled its membership since 2007 from just under 400 members to over 900 today. Financial support has kept pace with this growth, while volunteers number nearly 150 today.
Why build a museum at Old Derby and not somewhere else?
Old Derby has been open year-round since 2008. Since then, thousands of tourists, residents and shoppers have visited us to learn about local history, explore their family history, or purchase unique gift items for friends and family. Its location and historic beauty make it an attractive downtown anchor. What better future for Old Derby than to continue to educate Hingham’s children as it did for its first 150 years?
Who will benefit from this project?
The Hingham Heritage Museum will host year-round educational and cultural programs for everyone from pre-schoolers to senior citizens, while also hosting the growing number of tourists who visit Hingham. It will become a much-needed venue for learning about Hingham’s fascinating and unique place in the story of America. The Society will be better equipped to preserve and curate the many artifacts and documents in our collection. Finally, Hingham’s downtown area will benefit economically from the increased tourism and leisure time dollars that will be spent there.