The People Who Make It Happen

Putting the People in Preservation

We have a propensity to remove people from photographs of buildings. Sometimes this makes sense. For instance, in survey work, the intent is to have the building speak for itself – we want to notice the cornice, not the corduroys. Folks in the Vernacular Architecture Forum (the “premier organization in North America dedicated to the appreciation and study of ordinary buildings and landscapes”) are infamous for their desire to capture buildings sans humans.

At the VAF annual conference, like last year in Durham, NC, everyone stands back and allows photographers to capture the buildings before people get in the way.

At the VAF annual conference, like last year in Durham, NC, everyone stands back and allows photographers to capture the buildings before people get in the way.

Historically, it’s difficult to find photographs of buildings without people. Families gathered in front of their house and barn, showcasing their horses, wagons, farming equipment, and pets. It is clear that the pride in the house was tied to the people who made the farm and animals operate. Photographs with humans are infinitely more interesting because those images resonate with us on an emotional and social level.

The Jerome Hoyt Farm in Grafton, with the whole family in front.Grafton Historical Society.

The Jerome Hoyt Farm in Grafton, with the whole family in front.Grafton Historical Society.

The preservation world is often maligned for caring about buildings more than we care about people. We’re the people who restrict paint colors, reject additions to historic houses, or recommend treatments that cost more money than anticipated. It can be argued that preservation tools restrict the creativity and quirkiness that was responsible for providing our current generation with the very buildings or architectural details that excite preservationists today.

I would argue that preservationists do care about people – we advocate for saving old buildings because they are often the most visceral, tangible, and sentimental connections we have to our ancestors. Houses are not just filled with layers of paint and linoleum, but saturated with memories and stories yet to be told.

Maybe we are poor marketers. We expend so much energy promoting and celebrating buildings that we forget to share the secret behind projects’ successes: the people. Every preservation project succeeds because of a dedicated band of volunteers who spend Saturdays flipping pancakes, writing grants, and priming clapboards. Money helps, but it is seldom the driving force.

The Effingham Preservation Society raised funds to restore its headquarters in the former Drake’s General Store building through pie sales, Saturday coffees, concerts, and art shows.Courtesy of the Effingham Preservation Society.

The Effingham Preservation Society raised funds to restore its headquarters in the former Drake’s General Store building through pie sales, Saturday coffees, concerts, and art shows.Courtesy of the Effingham Preservation Society.

Our New Hampshire landscape exists because generations before us dreamed of building glorious steeples and endowing ornate libraries, evenin the smallest of towns. They exist today because people care to preserve these landmarks that have come to symbolize their community’s strength and permanence.

In my journeys across New Hampshire, I meet the people who make preservation projects happen. I relish those interactions as much as my ability to see these landmarks. My job wouldn’t be much fun if these buildings stood empty with no one to greet me.

At our annual preservation achievement awards, we make sure to tell the stories of the people. We want to celebrate the town of 800 that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore their meetinghouse, the homeowners that sacrificed greater returns on investment for the sake of history, and the committees that spent decades making incremental progress on their schoolhouse.

And yes, we make sure to include photographs of the people who make it all happen.

Painting Tips and Hints

Exterior Painting Tips for the Do-It-Yourselfer

Spring is here and it's time to dust off the paint brush! Commonly viewed as a dreaded laborious task, using these tips will result in a professional-looking, longer-lasting paint job, after which you can hang up your ladder and not need it again for many years!

Do an extensive assessment. Are there specific problem areas? What is causing the paint to peel within a year or two of painting—moisture problems, decayed wood, improper prep? Correct these issues before you correct the symptom (the peeling paint).

Preparation is the key to a durable paint job. Do a thorough prep job, including scraping (to remove all loose or flaking paint to the next sound layer), sanding (to feather the edges where there is paint buildup and to dull gloss finishes), and washing (to remove, dirt, dust and mildew). Closely follow all recommendations for handling lead paint. (*See note below.) Allow ample time for the surface to completely dry before painting. Follow the guidelines of the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation.

  •  Repair or replace any rotten or damaged wood. Back prime new wood. Re-nail loose clapboards with stainless steel ring-shank nails.
  •   Powerwashing and sandblasting are not recommended paint removal techniques. (They damage the wood’s surface.)
  •   Apply a good quality oil-based primer to all bare wood within 48 hours of scraping. If applying a latex top coat over oil paint, apply a complete coat of oil primer to all surfaces.
  •   After priming, fill holes, caulk cracks, butt joints and recaulk around doors and windows where necessary. Do not caulk the undersides of the clapboards.
  •   Latex or oil? Basically, it depends on the material being painted and the environmental conditions. Latex is desirable if a breathable surface is required. Oil is used when adhesion is an issue, moisture is not, or when covering a previous oil coat.
  •   Buy the best quality paint you can afford. High quality paints are more chalk resistant and have better color retention and durability.
  •   Never paint when temperatures are below 45˚ F. Latex should not be used below 50˚ F. It is best to paint in the shade. Direct sun causes rapid drying time often resulting in lap marks and leveling problems.
  •   Do not paint on foggy, damp or high humidity days. Make sure the weather forecast is clear until the paint is completely dry. Only paint clean dry surfaces.
  •   The two top coats (preferably the same brand as the primer) should be applied immediately after the primer has dried.
  •   Keep your painted surfaces clean and mildew free to extend the life of your paint.
  •  A quality paint job can be expected to last 5 – 8 years or longer.
  •   Be environmentally conscientious when disposing of excess paint and empty paint cans. Oil paints should be disposed of on hazardous waste days at your town’s sanitation facilities. Latex paint cans, once dried out, can be recycled.

Enjoy your beautiful paint job!

* As a homeowner doing your own painting, you are exempt from the requirements of the new Renovation, Repair and Painting Law. But, you should be very familiar with the best handling practices for lead paint.

Helpful Websites:

National Park Service

Preservation Brief 10 - Exterior Paint Problems on Historic Woodwork

Handy website for do-it- yourselfers

Lead Paint Websites



Fine Home Building

Taking the Pulse of Preservation Trends

The Preservation Alliance, in preparing for its April 21 conference, checked in with some key observers to explore what’s trending and what’s classic.   We asked, what’s working in preservation right now, what trends do preservationists need to know about, and what areas need work? Here’s what we learned.

Preservation activity is boosted by consumer desire for authenticity and community. Throwback Brewery in North Hampton and Sweetwater Farm & Distillery in Winchester use their historic buildings to reinforce their local vibe. Concord’s pedestrian-friendly Main Street project and associated redevelopment of historic buildings has sparked a surge in new eateries, a restaurant expansion, and a new nano-brewery. Ben Wilson, director of the Bureau of Historic Sites within the N.H. Division of Parks and Recreation, reports guests are looking to experience our authentic, well-maintained rural villages and scenic landscapes. “Relocating business owners often speak to the cultural, historic and recreational resources afforded by the state,” he said. “Visitors to our state’s historic sites frequently tell our guide staff how impressed they are by the stories of our cultural past and how accessible we make it to the general public. The preservation of our historic communities and rural architecture allows our visitors to experience a cultural landscape lost to the majority of the country.”

Barn-raising-type activity also continues to flourish. Recently, a group of Andover residents got together to buy the old town hall to save it. New Hampshire communities like Tamworth are adopting the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy (PARE) model of “barn-raising,” following the tradition of neighbor helping neighbor. PARE conducts “Energy Raisers” where volunteers help residents with energy-efficient systems installations to bring down costs, and increase understanding for property owners and tradespeople.

Large landscapes and cultural areas are getting more attention.  It’s not just the buildings we’re trying to save.  The Freedom’s Way Heritage Area, which includes Nashua, Brookline, Amherst, Mason, Greenville, New Ipswich and Milford and several towns in Massachusetts, celebrates a region linked by common history, evolution and current goals. Advocates involved in large energy project reviews, such as Northern Pass, are pointing to special places like the center of Deerfield and the White Mountain landscapes that may be impacted. Both types of initiatives benefit from models like recent National Register-related work around Squam Lakes and inventory and analysis done in Harrisville and Dublin a generation ago that looked at broad historical patterns of land use to refine preservation practice and priorities.


Preserving and celebrating social history and cultural diversity is another area of emerging activity. The leaders of the new Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire envision a network snaking through nearly a dozen towns and featuring as many as 60 sites — some of which are already recognized by their town’s historical societies or the state.  JerriAnne Boggis, the new executive director, welcomes nominations and support. “The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire will work to visibly honor and expose a true, more inclusive history in our state through exhibits, programs and tours that can change the way our country understands human dignity when it is free of historical stereotypes,” Boggis said. “Given the heightening of racial tension in our country, the expansion of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail to include other towns across the state couldn’t be more timely”

Investors are mixing old business models with new tools for strong results.  Hybrids aren’t just a type of car. We’re seeing more and more historic sites looking at long-term leases to compatible users as a viable business model that enhances ability to meet their missions of educating the public, as well as preserving historic buildings and materials. Strawbery Banke Museum’s Heritage House Program is a large-scale, strong-market model of this that can be scaled for others. In New Hampshire, legislators and other policy makers are considering new or enhanced incentives to add to the toolbox to promote preservation and economic development. For example, SB 185 ties local-option tax relief to private investment in resiliency to prepare for severe storms.  Another proposal seeks to increase the tax credits available to the Community Development Finance Authority.

Dig into these topics (and many others) at the Preservation Alliance’s April 21 conference, Preserving Community Character: Critical Issues and Opportunities.  


52 Barns in 52 Weeks First Barn Profile

New Owners Using Assessment Grant to Help Revive a Community Icon
First Barn to Be Showcased in the Preservation Alliance's 52 Barns in 52 Weeks Campaign      

This striking asymmetrical barn in Westmoreland, a community of 1,730, is the jewel of this 11 acre farm that evokes an increasingly rare landscape in New Hampshire. Although on a quiet, rural road, the farm and especially the barn are beloved by those who know it. Its placement in a bend of the road and on a hillside with distant views makes it a well-known, and highly visible, community landmark.

The property is known locally as the “Hatt Farm,” having been in that family for nearly a century before JJ Prior and Emilia Whippie Prior purchased it just last year. The Priors are using an assessment grant made possible by the Preservation Alliance's 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign to help guide them with their barn stewardship. These grants help pay for a barn expert to visit the property to conduct a structural assessment and offer professional guidance on the needed repairs.

The house associated with the barn was constructed ca. 1781 and is a two-story, center-chimney, Georgian-style home. Historic views show that the setting has remained remarkably constant over the past century. Locals, including some Hatt descendants, see the farm and its signature barn as important to the fabric of the community. The ca. 1850 structure is one of the largest multi-story barns remaining in Westmoreland, a town with a rich agricultural history known for its arable land.  

The barn offers us an exceptional glimpse of not only Westmoreland’s past, but of New Hampshire’s agrarian history. The 60’ x 54’ structure was the primary outbuilding for the small dairy farm that operated here. Small dairies like this dotted the New Hampshire landscape in the mid to later half of the 19th century. As you enter the barn through its large rolling door, you can almost experience the sounds and smells of the dairy cows that were once housed in the fourteen wooden stanchions that still line the east side of the main drive today. The loft above and the hay mow opposite the tie-up area offered large storage areas for a winter's supply of hay for the cows. An equipment shed added later opens to the western side of the barn, sheltered under the lowest section of the saltbox roof, which is the barn’s most distinctive architectural feature. The barn is crowned by a louvered cupola, an architectural feature which began appearing on barns in the second half of the 19th century as farmers recognized the importance of proper ventilation for the health of their cows.

Photos courtesy of JJ Prior and the Historical Society of Cheshire County

Photos courtesy of JJ Prior and the Historical Society of Cheshire County

As with many historic barns, there were years of deferred maintenance that have contributed to minor structural issues with the barn. In this case, the roof and foundation issues are the primary focus. JJ and Emilia, who have ties to the town and are history and agriculture enthusiasts, purchased the property to “fulfill our dream of raising a family with the backdrop of a classic New England farm and landscape.” They anticipated and appreciated that old buildings require investments of time, money, energy and emotional attachment. They are prepared to put in the effort to preserve and revive this stunning example. JJ and Emilia see themselves as stewards of the local history and understand that the expert advice of the assessment will help them make well-informed decisions for the preservation of the barn. (As 5th grade teachers, their interest in history lead them to write "The Patriot Papers," a kids book about the nation's founding documents published last year.)

The Prior barn is the first barn to be highlighted of the Preservation Alliance's 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign. The goal of this 2017 initiative is 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. Throughout the year, barns and their owners will be 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!


Town meeting this year resulted in several preservation victories across the state.

Here’s what we learned:

Overall, voters were generous, though articles that requested smaller amounts of money to go toward planning studies or capital reserve funds were passed more easily. Persistence also seemed to pay off for the towns of Washington and Bradford, where voters approved bond measures for substantial restoration and rehabilitation work on town-owned landmarks. Advocates noted that planning for capital projects and vigorous, strategic communication were important elements to their success.

Washington Town Hall

Washington Town Hall

Washington voters approved a $1.281 million bond for restoration and rehabilitation work at their iconic 1787 meetinghouse (Seven to Save, 2014). The measure passed 135-26. Another substantial rehabilitation will happen in Bradford, where voters approved $861,000 for their town hall (Seven to Save, 2014). That money will help match an LCHIP grant of $105,000. Bradford voters also approved $50,000 to repair the Bement Covered Bridge.

Drew Mill Dam, Wakefield

Drew Mill Dam, Wakefield

In Wakefield, voters approved $24,407 for the restoration of the remaining thirty-five windows at their town hall, an amount which LCHIP will double. Voters also put $11,500 in a capital reserve for town hall maintenance. A petitioned article asking for $34,500 for engineering and repair work at the Drew Mill Dam (Seven to Save, 2012) also passed.

In Wolfeboro, voters approved three articles pertaining to the reuse of the former freight shed. The building will be leased to the Lakes Region Model Railroad Association for use as a museum. The Association will also benefit from $95,000 in a dedicated capital reserve fund intended to restore the building.

New Hampton

New Hampton

In New Hampton, threat of demolition of the grange hall prompted voters to approve $4,000 for a planning study for the building, and also $150,000 for its relocation to a new foundation nearly two miles away.

Planning studies will take place in Meredith, where $50,000 was approved for the existing library at the Benjamin M. Smith building (Seven to Save, 2016).  Nearby in Center Harbor, voters approved $7,600 for an assessment of the schoolhouse. Voters also approved $5,000 for rehabilitation of the town house, which will be used as matching funds for LCHIP. Center Harbor also created a Town Property Stewardship Expendable Trust for periodic monitoring and maintenance of town-owned assets, and funded it with $4,000.

Another Seven to Save listee in Middleton (2011) will receive $60,000 from the town for continued work at their old town hall, which includes murals by itinerant artist John Avery.

In New Durham, voters approved $10,000 to join the capital reserve fund for the old meetinghouse (Seven to Save, 2012). Similarly, Swanzey voted $50,000 in reserves toward the restoration of Whitcomb Hall. Stratham passed its Capital Improvements Plan for 2017, which includes $50,000 for a Heritage Preservation Fund.

A straw poll in Belmont provided answers to three questions posed to voters regarding the future of the Belmont Mill. Article 6 asked if the building should be used for town offices and community space (440 yes – 267 no). Article 7 asked if the building should be demolished (170 yes – 522 no). Article 8 asked if the building should be sold, which drew a closer vote (383 yes – 320 yes).



Two communities also adopted preservation tools that will help advance preservation projects. Lancaster will join thirty communities that have adopted RSA 79-E, a tax incentive tool for revitalizing downtown commercial buildings. Windham voters approved an article to allow the Conservation Commission to pursue a permanent “curatorship lease agreement” for the Campbell Farm House. The Italianate house sits on 62 acres of conservation land acquired by the town in 2014, but until this year, the status of the house was in question. The new directive will allow the Commission to find a tenant who will monitor, maintain, repair, restore, and improve the house as part of the lease.

Energy efficiency projects also received attention this year. Grafton’s town hall will receive $10,000 worth of electrical and systems upgrades. Voters in Littleton said yes to $44,200 worth of energy improvements at the opera house, at the recommendation of an energy audit, and voters in Wilton approved $300,000 worth of heating, wiring, and safety upgrades at their town hall.

Measures that were not successful this year included Ashland School (Seven to Save, 2007) for $625,000 for use as the town library and an article requesting $18,250 for a planning study to match an LCHIP award. In Rye, all three articles relating to the town hall (Seven to Save, 2015) failed: one asking $3.2 million to restore and expand the existing town hall, one asking $500,000 to restore the town hall exterior and address ADA concerns, and one asking $3.4 million to build a facsimile of the old town hall on the same site.  David Choate, who helped Rye Heritage Commission members communicate the benefits of the rehabilitation, said “we’re disappointed, but know this work can take time. We welcome advice as we work on plans for the building’s continuing use and improvement.”

Also unsuccessful was an attempt to add an elevator shaft to the Deerfield Town Hall, though the town hall will receive a new roof. An attempt in Sandown to create the state’s sixty-third Heritage Commission failed, 314-270.

Please contact Andrew Cushing at with additions, corrections or comments. The Preservation Alliance was pleased to help several of the “winners” to succeed, and appreciates the opportunity to help all communities with projects for Town Meeting and other important events throughout the year.

Historic Riverside Academy in North Weare, NH for sale.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 as North Weare Schoolhouse, the historic 1 ½ story brick Riverside Academy Building was built c. 1855 and stands on a .4 acre parcel surrounded by mature hardwood trees marked by granite posts and rail fencing.  It is a vernacular mixing of Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate styles, sits on cut granite underpinnings and is crowned by a large louvered belfry with weathervane. It is the most architecturally distinctive of Weare's 19th-century schoolhouses. It was used as a public school until 1952, and then served as a grange hall until the 1980s. The School House sits in a village of historic houses, barns and a church. Nearby there are several tracts of conservation land, including the Weare Town Forest. The School House is located on Old Concord Stage Road (Route 77) just east of junction with Route 114 in North Weare, just 20 minutes west of NH's capital city of Concord.

The main room measures 30'x40' with an attached 16'x49' ell of wood construction dating from the 1960s.  Inside, the building retains much of its original detailing.  A curving wooden staircase with rounded handrail leads to the upper level.  The main school room features a narrow vertical board tongue-and-groove siding underneath a chalk railing which circumscribes the room.  The pressed tin ceiling, added in the late 19th or early 20th century, displays a decorative cornice and a field comprised of square and rectangular panels decorated by urns and geometric patterns with anthemion at the corners. 

The building is considered to be 75% restored with two new furnaces, alarm system, plumbing, wiring and electric.  It offers many possibilities. 

Owner asking $225,000. Call 603-497-3683.

Town Sells Protected Orford Ridge Home to Former Town Resident

Significant New England Historic Building to Be Revived

The historic c.1817 Rogers House, located on Main Street/Route 10 in Orford, has been protected for future generations and has a new preservation buyer, announced the Town of Orford and the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance today.

The sale concludes an essential chapter in an impressive collaboration between the Town, a citizens group, and the Preservation Alliance to protect the landmark and find a new owner committed to reviving it. The Town had taken the house, outbuildings and land due to non-payment of property taxes. The Selectboard worked closely with a local citizen initiative to protect this significant landmark with a Preservation Easement before it was sold.   The Selectboard worked swiftly, with citizen input, to get the property back on the tax rolls and preserve the integrity of the historic “Ridge” neighborhood of Orford.

The Rogers House is one of Orford's seven Ridge Houses, built in a row on the east side of Main Street between 1804 and 1838. These homes are one of the most outstanding examples of rural Federal residential architecture in the United States.  Built by local attorney John Rogers, the Rogers House has been listed since 1977 on the National Register of Historic Places as part of a recognized Historic District.  Over the past years, the property has had a series of owners, including a couple who in 1916 made extensive enlargements to the rear of the house and its gardens.

Statement from the Town: The Selectboard is pleased to have been able to preserve this important part of our Town’s history while meeting our other responsibilities. We are grateful to the many community members who offered advice, volunteered their time, and provided financial support for the easement.  “I hope that this success will inspire other communities to consider taking a similar path to preserve their historic buildings,” said Anne Duncan Cooley, Orford Selectboard.

Statement from New Owners: Jared and Elise Henningsen wish to express their gratitude to the Town of Orford for their patience and assistance during this process.  Jared has recently accepted an opportunity to work at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and they are excited to begin the planned preservation and restoration of Rogers House.

Statement from Preservation Alliance: "We are extremely pleased to assist the Town with the protection of one of its most iconic places," said Jennifer Goodman, the Preservation Alliance’s Executive Director. She noted that the Preservation Alliance is pleased with the growing interest in this useful tool.

The preservation easement is held by the N.H. Preservation Alliance, which will monitor and, as needed, enforce its terms. The easement will protect the highest-priority features while allowing for flexibility by current and future owners over time. The Preservation Alliance also holds a preservation easement on the Moses Kent Home in Lyme and other important properties around the state.

More here


1913 Boscawen Library

The 1913 Boscawen Library (Seven to Save 2013) is making headway towards this landmark’s re-use thanks to the focus and tenaciousness of members of the Committee to Save the Old Boscawen Library. The Preservation Alliance has been pleased to help local leaders with recognition and coaching over the last few years. 

Designed by famed Boston architect Guy Lowell, who also designed Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and the NH Historical Society’s building, this 1913 Colonial Revival building was the first public library in Boscawen.  Frank Lawrence Gerrish donated land at the junction of Routes 3 and 4, and John and Charlotte Kimball and Benjamin Ames Kimball donated the money to build the library.  The elegant classical revival exterior is complemented by an open floor plan, dark wood paneling, and a beautiful engraved and inscribed wooden mantel over the main fireplace.

Listed to the National Register in 1981, it was closed in 2006 when the Town moved its library resources to a new Municipal Complex, an adaptive reuse of the Old Main Street School building.  A leaking roof and foundation drainage issues led to moisture-related damage and an uncertain future. 

Committee to Save the Old Boscawen Library is making progress with a phased plan to save and restore the building as a multi-use facility.   The first steps were roof repair, improvements to drainage, and exterior work to make the building safe and ready for interior repairs and improvements with help from an LCHIP grant and private donations. The Town has agreed to provide a basic maintenance budget to keep the building heated and lights on along with matching funds for money raised by the Committee. The basement is being renovated to provide some moisture-free space for storing nonprofit documents, and some additional work is out to bid.

Possible future uses include storage of historical records and Historical Society displays, space for local artists’ demonstrations, or lease to a business. 

Additional thoughts regarding ways that the Committee has expanded public awareness and engaged the Town from Committee member Lorrie Carey:

·       I think our "Seven to Save" designation has really helped raise community awareness.

·       We made the 1913 library's birthday a part of the Old Home Day celebration.

·       We had elementary kids making homemade hearts for Valentine's Day to show how much they love their library.

·       There must be plenty of room for numerous volunteers to float ideas and feel engaged.

“It is one thing to save a historic resource,” said Carey. “It is another to maintain the building for future generations to use. Both the current and future condition of the building must be considered as the plans to save a historic resource come together.”