North Bennett Street School: Using projects to promote trades education

The North Bennett Street School in Boston’s North End has been training students in craftsmanship and traditional trades for over 100 years. Perhaps a few of you are alumni. We love trade schools that focus on restoration, and today we’re looking at a recent project they submitted to our Restoration Trades Directory, as well as featuring it on their own website (using slightly different content in each). Even though they are in the education wing rather than the building business, they use projects to promote their school — which makes sense, since their students are building and restoring all the time.

Their recent project they featured in the directory is the restoration of the steeple lantern in the First Parish Church of Dorchester, the oldest church in Boston. Like many restoration projects, this one utilized skills from all over the map — restoration carpentry, woodcarving, gilding, roofing, and others. In the directory, they added photos demonstrating many of these skills.

Here is the rebuilt lantern  as it is lifted from the ground to be put in place.

Here is the rebuilt lantern as it is lifted from the ground to be put in place.

Then they were able to select several categories for the project: Restoration carpentry, Church restoration, Gilders & gold leafing artisans, wood carving skills training, and preservation skills training. ┬áVisitors to the directory searching for any of these specialties will now see this project from the school. They also put up a fully captioned gallery at their site, which has some duplication, but not full duplication. It’s a good idea not to fully duplicate content at different points on the web, so they were following a cardinal rule here.

Another option for craftspeople to do online promotion via portfolio is to create separate project entries that focus on different skillsets: one project for gilding, one for woodcarving, etc. This takes more time, but is even more effective to improve search engine results.