Visitors come from near and far to visit Lexington and walk in the footsteps of the militiamen and patriots who brought Lexington to the world’s attention in April of 1775. For some time now, Lexington Historical Society has used volunteers through our historic house greeter program to welcome visitors to two of our three historic house museums open to public: the Hancock-Clarke House (36 Hancock Street) and Munroe Tavern (1332 Massachusetts Avenue). Simply put, greeters welcome visitors to the houses, take and sell admission tickets, and orient visitors with the tour-style of that particular house museum. However, this does not fully convey the importance of these volunteers.
For a number of visitors to Lexington, a greeter is the first representative of Lexington Historical Society they will interact with. Being volunteers, greeters have chosen to be there, and visitors can tell that they are genuinely excited to share their significant local history with others. While we wish that every visitor to Lexington had the time to tour one or more of the historic houses, even if they don’t, greeters are still providing way-finding information and local restaurant recommendations, adding to that visitor’s experience of Lexington as a whole. So, for these visitors, greeters are not only the face of the historical society, but also of the community.
Given that the houses are open seven days a week for five months out of the year, it is a significant task to keep the welcome desks staffed. At any given time, the greeter program has 50-60 current volunteers. Starting in April, greeters begin welcoming visitors to the houses on the weekends, and after Memorial Day the greeters fill over 100 shifts each month, June through October. As of July 15, 2019 greeters have volunteered for over 550 hours since April, and we are not even half-way through the season!
Part of what makes this program so successful is how different styles of volunteering come together to build a strong, yet flexible, volunteer program. At the core, there are a handful of greeters who have made the commitment to fill the same shift (or two) each week for most weeks of the season. Others seek to volunteer at least once a week but have a more variable schedule that adapts to our needs from month-to-month. Finally, some greeters may find their availability better lends to volunteering twice a month, filling in where they see the greatest need. The volunteers themselves are equally diverse. They include high school and college students, working professionals, parents and grandparents, and retirees. They are lifelong Lexingtonians, 50+ year residents, new arrivals, and exchange students here for just a year. What they share though is a passion for Lexington’s history and a desire to welcome all those visitors who open the door to the Hancock-Clarke House or Munroe Tavern seeking to experience that history for themselves.
Are you interested in learning how to become a historic house greeter? Contact Melissa Drake at email@example.com.
-Melissa Drake, Weekend Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.