Consider the Barn Tax Incentive for You or A Friend: April 15 Deadline

Barn Tax Incentive Use Continues to Grow With Over 556 Structures Enrolled

Madbury has joined a growing number of towns and cities using the state's tax incentive program to encourage historic barn preservation. RSA 79-D authorizes towns and cities to grant property tax relief to barn owners who can demonstrate the public benefit of preserving their barn or other older farm buildings, and agree to maintain them throughout a minimum 10-year preservation easement.According to data collected by the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration, by the close of 2017, 90 communities have enrolled over 556 historic structures in the program -- a 6.5 % increase over last year.

Cornish, Freedom, Deerfield, Sandwich and Plainfield lead the state with the number of structures protected; Cornish and Freedom with 20, Deerfield and Sandwich with 19 and Plainfield with 18.  Alton, Concord, Fitzwilliam, Henniker, Hopkinton, Kensington, Kingston, Lancaster, Lee, Loudon, Lyme, Marlborough, Moultonborough, New Boston, North Hampton, Orford, Stratham, and Weare all have between 10 and 17 structures protected under the program.

“We are encouraged that 2017's percent increase in use of the barn tax incentive program is the highest since 2013,” said Beverly Thomas, Program Director, New Hampshire Preservation Alliance. “People across the state and their municipal leaders understand the significance of these historic structures, the opportunities to continue to use them in creative ways, and the value these barns bring to the scenic landscape of their communities,” she said.

Promoting use of this tool was part of the Preservation Alliance’s 52 Barns in 52 Weeks initiative in 2017 that helped save more than 52 barns and increase public awareness with educational forums, planning grants and promotion of this barn tax relief program. 

More about RSA 79-D: Modeled after the state's open space discretionary easement program, the barn tax incentive allows municipalities to grant property tax relief to barn owners who can demonstrate the public benefit of preserving their barns or other old farm buildings while agreeing to maintain their structures through a minimum of a 10-year renewable easement. In return, the municipality provides tax relief of 25% to 75% of the full assessed value of the building and the land underneath it. And, importantly, the assessment will not increase as a result of maintenance or repair work that is performed while the easement is in effect.                       

Carl Schmidt, chair of the N.H. Historic Agricultural Structures Advisory Committee, is encouraged by the continued growth of the program but also noted that "this important tool is still under-utilized and I hope that more barn owners and municipalities embrace this opportunity to help save an essential part of our state’s character."  He commented that municipalities with strong barn preservation advocates or an active Heritage Commission or other group that helps guide Selectboards or City Councils can make a big difference in the use of this valuable tool.

Barn owners interested in applying for the incentive to become effective in the coming tax year need to apply by April 15, 2018. Also of note is that easements that went into effect in the sixth year of the program (2008) for a ten-year term expire on March 31, 2018 unless a renewal application is received by the April 15 deadline. Property taxes on the relevant structures may then increase unless the easements are renewed.  Applications for renewal, like new applications, must be submitted to your municipality on N.H. DRA form PA-36-A no later than April 15, 2018. Applications can be obtained from your town office or download an information packet with application from the Alliance’s web-site www.nhpreservation.org or call 603-224-2281. Applications are also available at www.revenue.nh.gov/forms/2010/documents/pa-36a.pdf.

The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources and the N.H. Historic Agricultural Structures Advisory Committee work with the Preservation Alliance to provide barn assessment grants, publications, tours and workshops, an information network, and a voluntary survey program. The N.H. Historic Agricultural Structures Advisory Committee was established by state legislation in 1999 to support the preservation of N.H.’s historic barns and agricultural structures. The committee is comprised of representatives from state agencies, non-profit organizations and agricultural leaders.

 

Learn more about the preservation saga of this barn that is enrolled in the RSA-79D program here.

Learn more about the preservation saga of this barn that is enrolled in the RSA-79D program here.

New properties added to National Register of Historic Places

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Concord's iconic gasholder house off of South Main Street (Seven to Save, 2013) and Farmington's First Congregational Church were listed to the National Register of Historic Places this week. 

Built in 1888 when coal gas was a major source of light and heat, the round Italianate Concord Gas Light Company Gasholder House is very likely the last gasholder house in the country that retains its interior equipment. 

Here's how it worked (photos and drawings were done by the Historic American Engineering Record, HAER, available at the Library of Congress):

An interior tank contains a sheet metal "bell" designed to raise and lower into a below-grade water tank on eight iron rails. (That below-grade tank can hold 800,000 gallons.) As gas entered and left the building, this bell would rise accordingly. Any gas escaping the bell would vent through the cupola. Currently, the bell is empty and resting below grade in the water tank, forming a floor.

Concord's Heritage Commission sponsored the nomination of the landmark structure amid public concerns for its preservation after a tree fell on its north roof slope during a storm. That tree damaged some structural members and the wall cornice. The building has been temporarily stabilized but not repaired.

"The Heritage Commission is pleased that the gasholder has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places," said Phil Donovan, who served as Concord Heritage Commission chairman during the project. The Commission used survey funds available to Certified Local Governments to hire preservation consultant Lisa Mausolf to write the nomination. "The gasholder is an extremely important and iconic landmark in the city. We hope that the listing will bring additional attention and resources to the building and aid its current or future owners in its preservation. We are grateful to Liberty Utilities for their cooperation and permission to undertake the listing."

Current chairman and long-time commission member J. Richard Jaques, Sr. concurred with Donovan and noted that the listing and increased public awareness of the building’s significance will be helpful as stakeholders continue to try to find a “win-win” solution for the building.

The gasholder house is currently for sale, with restoration costs expected to cost upwards of $1 million. 

Also listed to the National Register this week was Farmington's First Congregational Church. The Gothic Revival brick church on Main Street was designed by Frederick N. Footman and includes stained glass windows painted with the Grisaille technique. Even more impressive: the nomination was written by Lorraine Doe, a member of the church. 

Farmington received a grant from us to perform a conditions assessment on their historic building. That document will guide the congregation as they make repairs and plan for maintenance. 

You can read more about the church's listing here and here

In New Hampshire, listing to the National Register makes applicable property owners eligible for grants such as the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program or LCHIP (lchip.org) and the Conservation License Plate Program, "Moose Plate."(nh.gov/nhdhr/grants/moose).

For more information on the National Register program in New Hampshire, please visit nh.gov/nhdhr or contact Peter Michaud at the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources at 603-271-3583.

To the SEC about Northern Pass: Vote FOR Our Irreplaceable Assets

 

Breaking news on February 1, 2018: SEC denies permit!

January 30 piece: It’s decision-making time for the state’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) as they begin deliberations on January 30, 2018 to decide whether to approve or reject the Northern Pass project.  The SEC is tasked with considering the proposed energy project’s impact on New Hampshire’s historic, aesthetic, economic and other resources.

Citizens from Pittsburg to Deerfield have expressed concerns to the SEC about the proposed project’s negative effects on historic and cultural landscapes of New Hampshire. They’ve provided powerful, in-depth evidence for places that make New Hampshire unique like our town centers, agricultural areas, and historic hiking trails. The Preservation Alliance, National Trust for Historic Preservation and other conservation, preservation and municipal groups have detailed impacts much greater than the applicant contends, impacts that meet the SEC’s threshold to say “no.”

The National Trust named New Hampshire’s cultural and scenic landscapes a “National Treasure” in the face of the threat of this nearly 200-mile project with approximately 1,500 transmission towers. The Treasures are a small portfolio of threatened properties and places that are essential to save or revive; the current group includes Music Row in Nashville, Theodore Roosevelt’s ranch in North Dakota and Virginia’s James River, the site America’s first permanent English colony.

Thank you to all who have spoken up on behalf of our special places. In this state, we benefit from a history and culture that embraces civic responsibility and environmental stewardship. We hope that the Site Evaluation Committee has heard these voices, absorbed this evidence, and votes FOR our irreplaceable assets.

Jennifer Goodman, executive director, N.H. Preservation Alliance

The historic and scenic view from the Weeks Estate, Lancaster will be impacted by the project.

Opinion piece by National Trust president Stephanie Meeks here.

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Preservation's Next Generation

Congratulations to our field service representative, Andrew Cushing, for being named to the Union Leader’s 40 under Forty list. The annual list "recognizes some of the state’s brightest young achievers who have a record of professional and volunteer accomplishments in New Hampshire."

At the Preservation Alliance, Cushing, 28, travels the state connecting communities to the resources they need to preserve historic landmarks. He provides technical assistance, practical advice on preservation tools and strategies, and guidance in grant-writing and fundraising. 

In addition to working at the Alliance, Cushing serves as board secretary for the Grafton Historical Society, which is currently restoring several buildings, and as a board member for the Friends of Mascoma, which raises funds for scholarships, teacher grants, and three food pantries. He is also working on fixing up two old houses in Grafton.

"I'm very appreciative of this recognition. I'm so fortunate to be living in the place I love and working for such a wonderful organization," said Cushing. "Every day I meet people who are passionate about saving our historic built environment...it's sometimes very difficult work, but it's rewarding and improves community and economic health."

Cushing is just one of several young preservationists in New Hampshire, said Preservation Alliance executive director Jennifer Goodman. "It's inspiring to see the next generation of preservation advocates, including Mae Williams, Oliver Fifield, Drew Bedard and others, surveying our state's historic buildings and fixing its barns and landmarks," she said.  "Fostering and retaining preservation-minded youth is good for New Hampshire, especially as the state's demographics turn grayer."

Email Andrew at ac@nhpreservation.org with some words of wisdom, request his help with your community preservation project, or share some news of other young preservationists.

According to a recent national study of millennials, nearly all (97%) of the nation’s largest and most diverse generation appreciate the value of historic preservation. Commissioned by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the survey reveals the salient role that preservation plays in the millennial narrative and the development of communities courting this generation.  One-in-two millennials view historic preservation as important through the lens of engaging in authentic experiences (52%), preserving a sense of community (52%) and creatively re-using structures (51%).

The Preservation Alliance is committed to engaging with audiences of all ages because we believe historic preservation benefits all. Do you have ideas about programs or wish to highlight your community's great efforts? Send us a note at projects@nhpreservation.org and tell us about it. 

You can learn about the rest of this year’s 40 Under Forty group in the Union Leader here.

Andrew at the historic Hope Engine Co. No. 1, Hinsdale on day of its move to safety, with local leader Donna Suskawicz, below.

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Family Heirloom Barn Gets Boost

Ongoing Commitment to a Family Heirloom: A Raymond Couple is Working to Rehabilitate a Local Landmark Barn

Since becoming stewards of their family barn in 2016, Therren and Alissa Welch have heard countless fond memories from people in Raymond about the c. 1880 barn, from playing basketball on the second floor to line dancing and more.  Known as the former AI S. Welch & Sons Oil Company building, as reflected by the signage above the door, the barn has been in the Welch family for the better part of a century. Originally a livery stable and later the home to the oil company, the building has sat empty without a use for well over two decades. We’re highlighting this barn as one of 52 Barns in 52 Weeks because of its past significance to the community and the new owners’ commitment to its history and preservation.

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“Some people identify family heirlooms with a watch, jewelry, or fine china.  Whatever the piece is, we appreciate the craftsmanship and ingenuity of past generations.  My heirloom happens to be an 1880 balloon framed, wood barn with its majestic cupola and weathered brass weathervane.

As it stands, my barn is a little rough and in need of some love and care; but what I see is a glorious and prominent structure with its bright brass patina of the weathervane shinning in the sun that will stand for another 5 generations.  Now is my turn to embark on a new segment for this great structure and continue my family’s pride,” said Therren of his newly acquired barn.

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The Welches began work on the 35’ x 50’ Yankee barn in March of 2017, cleaning out the building and assessing the needs both structurally and aesthetically.  Repairs have included work on the windows, adding support beams to the main floor, and removing false ceilings, walls and the furry inhabitants that were within them.

After reading about the 52 Barns in 52 Weeks initiative, the Welches applied for and received a mini-grant from the Preservation Alliance to have a professional assessment done by contractor Ed Pape, to help direct them with their rehabilitation work.  The remaining work includes installing electricity, replacing deteriorated structural members in the basement and second floor, repairs to the cupola which is original to the structure, as well as replacing the roof and repairing the siding. The goal is to keep the building’s appearance as close to original as possible.  Upon completion of this work, the Welches plan to open the first floor of the barn as a small coffee and wine shop. There has been much excitement within the community as repairs are made to the barn.

Our goal of 52 Barns in 52 Weeks has been to help at least 52 barn owners across the state with assessment grants, assistance in securing tax relief, and educational opportunities to help save their historic barns, and we’ve exceeded our target. Throughout 2017, barns and their owners have been showcased by the Preservation Alliance to celebrate good work and offer practical information and inspiration to others. 

We are grateful to all of our donors to date, and encourage others to add their support with an investment in the 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign so we can do more!

2017: Some Numbers

With 2018 right around the corner, we thought it would be useful to share examples of the activities at the Preservation Alliance that donors like you help support. This output from our small staff and networks of fabulous preservation practioners, organizational partners and civic leaders leads to investment in irreplaceable buildings, stronger communities, jobs and tax revenue and a growing preservation movement.

13.  Building assessment matching grants, of up to $4,500, pay for a professional to assess the condition of a historic building, provide cost estimates, and outline phases for preservation. These reports are useful for groups that desire a "road map" for moving forward with a preservation project, for complicated buildings that need an objective eye, for groups seeking LCHIP funding in excess of $25,000, or some combination thereof. Made possible by the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) and Rick and Duffy Monahon Fund.

2017's pool included 5 churches/chapels - a marked increase from previous years.

2. Mini Grants of $500 for smaller projects. These matching grants ($100 is provided by the applicant) are ideal for preliminary condition assessments, getting second opinions from professionals who specialize in older construction, or for formulating a re-use or fundraising plan. 

This year, one mini grant went to examine the timber condition at the Vilas Pool carillon in Alstead. A second one was awarded to St. Matthew's Chapel in Sugar Hill, which needed a structural engineer to propose solutions for their failing foundation. 

204. Attendees from all over the state at our biennial conference, this year in Concord. The day included tours of Main Street; presentations on disaster management, capital projects, and preserving rural landscapes; and a thought-provoking welcoming address by Max Page.

Developer Jon Chorlian leads tours through the Sacred Heart Church on Pleasant Street, which was being converted into condo units.  Photo: Steve Booth

Developer Jon Chorlian leads tours through the Sacred Heart Church on Pleasant Street, which was being converted into condo units.  Photo: Steve Booth

106. Instagram posts, from every corner of our beautiful state. Check us out, even if you don't have a smart phone: https://www.instagram.com/nhpreservation/ 

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75. Towns visited by Preservation Alliance staff, mostly through our field service program. We help civic leaders and other investors save, re-use and steward historic places and bring preservation tools to all types of communities.

13. Awards given at our annual Preservation Achievement Awards in May. 

7. New additions to the Seven to Save family, announced in October in Wolfeboro. We're excited that some of these 2017 projects are already seeing progress. Hinsdale's engine house was relocated to a temporary location to avoid demolition; Bartlett Historical Society and Moultonborough's French-Taylor House both received condition assessments (see above); and the Shaker Regional School District and Save Our Gale School committee continue to move forward with a plan to save the Gale School. 

The Seven to Save announcement took place in Wolfeboro's Brewster Memorial Hall - itself a Seven to Save property from 2009.

The Seven to Save announcement took place in Wolfeboro's Brewster Memorial Hall - itself a Seven to Save property from 2009.

More than 52 barns making preservation progress thanks to donors to our successful 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign.  We wanted to help stem the tide of barn loss, and we were overwhelmed and impressed by the outpouring of both need and support. 

Twombley Barn, Wakefield received a barn assessment grant as part of our 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign.

Twombley Barn, Wakefield received a barn assessment grant as part of our 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign.

And here's one last important number: 224-2281. That's our office number. Call us with ideas and concerns about an old building or community issue that matters to you...because it will also matter to us.

Baby It's Cold Inside! Weatherization Tips from a New Old Home Buyer

The icicles are pretty telling: my house is hemorrhaging heat. Sure, those translucent stalactites dangling from my eaves are part of that quintessential winter scene, but I can’t afford that quintessential winter scene. My oil bill has already shocked me twice, and I know the icicles can damage my roof.

A tell-tale sign of heat loss outside my bedroom window.

A tell-tale sign of heat loss outside my bedroom window.

I first should admit that, having purchased my new old house in late August, it’s been a whirlwind of home improvement. I just didn't have time to think about rigid foam board for my house when I was busy helping leaders of community preservation projects during my day job as field service representative at the N.H. Preservation Alliance, and after-hours at home -- tree cutting, brush clearing, exterior painting, window re-glazing, and plaster patching (or as I often tongue-twist it, paster platching). And then winter arrived.

Like many of our members that are new owners of old places, I’ve been playing catch up and trying to make sense of different weatherization strategies for my vernacular Victorian. Here is an overview of recommendations that I considered.  To date, I managed to insulate my pipes and wrap duct joints with aluminum tape. I even discovered that my dining room duct was missing during this process – so that was a worthwhile exercise. I also re-glazed the windows that had glass ready to fall out. 

Everyone else who works at the Preservation Alliance lives in an old house, and this winter ain’t their first rodeo, so I asked for their advice too.

Beverly Thomas runs our old house and barn programs and has lots of tips about old house weatherization. She also restored her 1870s farmhouse in Bedford with her husband. She, and my other colleagues, had lots of advice for me. Here are a few examples:

Make sure that your windows and storms are really closed, and that your top sashes haven’t slipped down, especially windows that you don’t pay attention to.  

Obvious, right? I can honestly say that when I inspected some of my windows, the sash locks were not engaged. Unfortunately, some of my (original!) window sashes no longer meet at the meeting rail…and some top sashes in my upstairs bedrooms have indeed slipped down.

I also noticed that two of my (original!) storms with interchangeable inserts still have their screens in them. Oops.

My fix? I screwed in spacer blocks in the exterior tracks under my top sashes to keep them tight for now. Then I dug through the garage to find glass panels to swap with the screens in the storms.

My storm windows have interchangeable inserts...that I hadn't bothered checking.

My storm windows have interchangeable inserts...that I hadn't bothered checking.

Close blinds/drapes/curtains at night (and on north side of house on very cold days) and open during the day for solar gain.

I should purchase curtains. Thick ones.

Make sure you have door sweeps on all exterior doors, and basement and walk-in attic doors too. And add a layer of rigid foam insulation to your attic access hatch.

My basement and attic doors are currently stuffed with my summer socks. And my basement bulkhead and attic hatch both have rigid foam now. Check.

It's not pretty, but the rigid foam was free.

It's not pretty, but the rigid foam was free.

There's lots more to do, but I feel like I'm making progress. Here are other suggestions from some of our members. Check our directory for firms that do energy audits. NH Saves is a good place to start, too. The NH Division of Historical Resources has also compiled resources on their website. From those findings, you'll know where to put your money first. Otherwise, you could be tempted to do foolish things to your house in the name of energy efficiency.

Have you had luck reducing the size of your icicles? Let us know your winter tips by contacting us

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Edith Celley (1927-2017) Leaves Preservation Legacy in Haverhill, NH and Statewide

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Edith Celley has left quite a legacy in Haverhill, NH and for our preservation community – in revived buildings, as a model of effective leadership, and with good plans still in progress.

She was born in Haverhill, and was valedictorian of her high school class in 1945.  After an early career with the US Army, she returned to Haverhill to care for her mother. She was then employed as a New Hampshire State Probation-Parole Officer, retiring in 1987. After a brief retirement she served for ten years with Grafton County Senior Citizen’s Council, first as Volunteer Coordinator, then as Director of Grafton County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. Under her leadership this program was expanded to serve three nearby Vermont towns and became RSVP of the Upper Valley and White Mountains.

She served as Trustee of Haverhill Congregational Church, Haverhill Library Association, Atkinson House, and Haverhill Historical Society, was a member of the Haverhill Area Senior Services Advisory Council, the board of Grafton County Senior Citizens Council, and the Heritage Commission for the Town of Haverhill.

She devoted her retirement to Haverhill Heritage, Inc. (HHI) a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and reuse of three abandoned school buildings in the Haverhill Corner National Register Historic District and to the preservation of any other threatened property in the Historic District. She served 11 years as president and received awards for her volunteer service from The Laconia Savings Bank, the Woodsville-Wells River Rotary and was named Citizen of the Year for 2012 by the Cohase Chamber of Commerce.

Under her leadership Alumni Hall, a 19th century Grafton County Court House and 20th century Haverhill Academy gymnasium and auditorium, was the first of the buildings to be rehabilitated and now serves the region as Court Street Arts at Alumni Hall. Photo below shows Edith leading discussion at a 2012 Preservation Alliance event there. This preservation and revitalization project won an award from the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance and was also selected in 2011 by that organization as one of New Hampshire’s 25 Milestone Projects of the last quarter-century.  Photo below shows Edith leading discussion at a 2012 Preservation Alliance event there.

During her tenure as president of HHI work was started on the other two 19th century school buildings. Haverhill Academy was sold and became a private residence. Pearson Hall, the original 1816 Haverhill Academy, was given to Haverhill Historical Society to preserve as their history museum.

After another brief period of full retirement in 2011, Edith assumed the Presidency of Haverhill Historical Society as preservation and revitalization work on Pearson Hall was well underway. She successfully nominated Pearson Hall for the NH Preservation Alliance’s list of Seven to Save in 2011 and continued working to complete this effort and fully develop its reuse as a heritage center, reference library and educational facility.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Alumni Hall, 75, Court Street, in Haverhill Corner on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, at 2 p.m., with a social gathering following the service.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Haverhill Heritage, Inc., dba Alumni Hall, PO Box 125, Haverhill, NH 03765.

For more information or to offer an online condolence, please visit www.rickerfh.com.

 

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