Matching fundraiser to restore historic Danvers buildings still seeks donations | News

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DANVERS — Less than a week is left in Ellie’s Challenge, a matching fundraiser that was named in honor of Danvers resident Ellie Ross to repair multiple buildings under the Danvers Historical Society’s care.

Donations and gifts worth up to $45,000 will be matched by the society’s president, and Ross’ son, David McKenna, ahead of the challenge’s April 30 deadline. So far, more than $27,000 has been raised.

Ross was the first woman president of the Massachusetts Cemetery Association and served on Danvers’ zoning board for 15 years. She was also a Town Meeting member for more than two decades.

The funds used to match the donations came from money McKenna inherited from his mother upon her death in 2020.

“She always taught me that if you’re going to do something, do it right. And if you believe in something, go for it,” McKenna said. “I believe that we need to protect these buildings, especially since we’re losing too many as it is.”

The donations raised through Ellie’s Challenge will be put toward much-needed repairs at historical buildings in town, such as the Tapley Memorial Hall and the mansion at Glen Magna Farms.

The mansion was built in 1790, and has hosted both public and private events for more than 70 years. It cannot resume holding functions until it is brought up to code through the installment of new sprinkler systems, alarms and elevators — a cost that comes in around half a million dollars alone, McKenna said.

“It’s a beautiful building that we want people to use again,” McKenna said.

The society’s properties on Page Street in Danvers also need work, including the Jeremiah Page House, which is set to join the National Votes for Women Trail this spring.

The 18th century building was once home to women’s rights advocate and educator Anne L. Page, who opened the first kindergarten in Essex County at the home around 1850. It now needs to be completely overhauled, McKenna said.

Built in 1794, the Derby Summer House, also known as the McIntire Tea House, still needs work after the society was able to restore parts of it two years ago through a state grant. McKenna said historic statues on the building’s roof must still be repaired, along with brick walls lining the property’s rose gardens.

State Rep. Sally Kerans, D-Danvers encouraged society members and the public to donate to the challenge before the deadline.

“David and the late Ellie Ross are giving their personal fortune to the cause of preserving Glen Magna, the Page House, Tapley Hall and scores of artifacts the society maintains without a dime of Town funds,” Kerans said in a statement. “We have lost too many historic treasures already. Let’s all chip in to preserve what’s left.”

Donations can be made to Ellie’s Challenge at

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