Town Meeting Results

Another year, another snow storm. Across New Hampshire, voters trekked to their town halls, fire stations, or school gymnasiums to debate various articles that involved saving special historic places.

We are proud to have been a part of several successful articles, including a few Seven to Save properties that will move forward this year. Here’s what we know (and please share success stories from your town if we missed you):

In Rye, the town hall (Seven to Save 2015) was spared from demolition. A petitioned article asked for $3 million to raze the 1873 structure and build a three-story replacement. The Heritage Commission instead supported an option for the town to purchase a former bank building and repurpose it for town offices, thus alleviating crowding at the historic town hall. That article, too, failed.

The town hall will see its exterior painted this year, as well as the completion of a conditions assessment, which will provide rehabilitation options for the embattled building.

In Belmont, the Shaker Regional School District voters once again refused to demolish the distinctive 1894 Gale School (Seven to Save 2017). Instead, voters directed the school board to sell the vacant building to the nonprofit group, Save Our Gale School (SOGS). SOGS has just over one year to move the structure to a new location, where it will be rehabilitated by nonprofit developer, Lakes Region Community Developers. Belmont voters also approved $5,000 for their Heritage Fund and a $65,000 space needs study (which will include several underused town-owned historic buildings).

Orford voters approved the lease of the Orford Academy building to Littleton-based developer, AHEAD. The decision marked the end of a long debate over the building’s future and concern about its appropriate reuse. AHEAD (which has won preservation achievement awards for adaptive reuse at Berlin’s Notre Dame School and Littleton Hospital) will spend $3.5 million converting the brick institution into twelve senior housing units.

In Hinsdale, the Hope Engine Company No. 1 fire house will have a new home on town land after voters accepted the building. The 2017 Seven to Save project, which was saved from demolition last fall, seeks to convert the rare building into a fire fighting museum. “I feel like today was a great day for historic preservation in New Hampshire,” said Donna Suskawicz, the main proponent of the engine house’s restoration. To top it off, “I won $50.00 on a St. Patty’s scratch ticket! A lucky day.”

Stratham voters overwhelmingly approved a $150,000 article to place a preservation easement on the former town hall. The Second Empire building was sold into private hands in 1997, but a recent demolition permit alerted the Heritage Commission to its endangered status. The new owner is willing to work with the Commission to find a suitable solution that will permit a reuse, but also preserve the exterior’s features.

Speaking of Heritage Commissions, there will be two new ones in New Hampshire after approval in Sandown and Mont Vernon. Both towns also approved the creation of Heritage Funds. In the case of Sandown, two times was the charm – an attempt last year failed. Kingston voters also approved $10,000 for their Heritage Fund. Unfortunately in Kensington, a valiant effort to establish a Commission and Heritage Fund failed, 211-167. Supporters there will return next year.

Chesterfield rejected the demolition of their former town office building – a wonderful example of carpenter gothic architecture. Instead, voters approved a plan to sell the house for one dollar to a local couple who wish to rehabilitate it.

Two studies were approved: in Ashland and Mason. Ashland’s second attempt for a study at their historic 1871 town hall succeeded. The LCHIP project can now move forward. An amendment from the floor expanded the roof replacement at the Mason Town Hall to also include a conditions assessment, for a total of $18,500. A committee is now charged with listing the Greek Revival structure to the State Register of Historic Places.

New Durham voters okayed the Boodey House Committee’s proposal to move a barn in danger of demolition in nearby Alton to town land. After the barn’s assembly at the new location, the committee hopes to move forward with the reconstruction of the Zechariah Boodey house. Voters also approved $5,000 for the 1772 Meetinghouse (Seven to Save 2012).

Harrisville’s historic street lights will remain after a year of study. The decision reverses last year’s vote to replace the porcelain fixtures with more efficient lights in the National Historic Landmark village.

The Weeks Public Library in Greenland will get a sizable addition after voters approved a $3.5 million bond to expand the 1897 building. A smaller request ($25,000) in Grafton failed. There, supporters hope to move and expand the building in an effort to keep the 1921 library usable for more people.

More library news came from Groton, where voters directed the selectmen to demolish the former library and town office building. The small building – originally a chapel for the Forest Hills camp – sustained damage from flooding and according to many, is not repairable. The library itself disbanded, with services now provided by neighboring Hebron.  

Bradford Town Hall (Seven to Save 2014) will not be rehabilitated as quickly as taxpayers thought. Despite last year’s passage of a $650,000 bond, $1.3 million more was requested to complete the first floor’s work. Instead, voters opted to spend $170,000 to mothball the building.

To share news from your community, email Andrew Cushing at

Behind the Scenes at the Old House & Barn Expo: More Sponsor Profiles

The N.H. Preservation Alliance's generous sponsors help make the Old House & Barn Expo, and preservation work across the state, possible. Here are four:

Ian Blackman LLC Restoration and Preservation Restores Barns to Make a Difference

 Ian Blackman, far left, explains his work at the NH Farm Museum.

Ian Blackman, far left, explains his work at the NH Farm Museum.

This company specializes in the restoration and preservation of historic barns and houses from the foundation to the roof.  Blackman takes great pride in paying close attention to the details that make the difference in a lasting and accurate restoration. "The Expo is important because it provides information and support for people who love old houses and barns," Blackman said. "Buildings that have a story to tell. Doors and windows to another time. New Hampshire without these buildings would be like fall with no color. It is always fun to be with a group of people who share this passion and avocation." Enjoy his barn preservation strategies on Saturday, March 24 at 10 a.m. and Sunday, March 25 at 3 p.m.  


ReVision Energy Accelerating Clean Energy Use with Help From Barns

 Your barn roof could help you save on electricity costs.

Your barn roof could help you save on electricity costs.

ReVision Energy designs, installs, and services commercial and residential solar systems. They are responsible for helping accelerate New England’s clean energy transition from fossil fuels to solar energy. And your barn roof may be the perfect place for an array. “Throughout their long histories, New England barns have served a host of purposes—from hay loft to livestock shelter, from barn dances to the backdrop of pretty postcards,” ReVision's Jeff Cantara said. “Now, the growing trend of supporting a robust solar array breathes new life into these iconic structures, providing a revenue stream that offsets upkeep and maintenance while propelling the Yankee tradition of frugality and independence into a new era.”

Visit their booth and attend the session by Cantara on solar energy strategies on Saturday, March 24 at 3 p.m.  Think your barn would be a good fit? Free site evaluations are available.

Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program Info For Old House Owners and Repairers

Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program will be at the show to educate people about lead safe work practices for home renovators and when hiring a contractor.  New state legislation mandating lead screening in young children offers reminders that older structures can contain lead, and safe practices are essential for home residents as well as renovators, noted Gail Gettens, manager of the Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program for the State of New Hampshire.

"As we work to preserve and maintain New Hampshire’s old and historic homes and barns, it is important for DIY’ers and contractors to understand the risk of lead exposure during renovations and repairs. Learning lead-safe work practices and following EPA and State ‘Renovate, Repair, and Paint’ (RRP) laws are critical to protect yourself and your children from lead poisoning," she said.  Visit their booth at the Expo and attend the session on safe lead practices on Saturday, March 24 at 2 p.m. 

News and Critical Information

WMUR-TV Broadcast Center provides New Hampshire with unmatched local news, weather, and critical information from its innovative broadcast facility in Manchester and satellite bureaus in the Seacoast and Lakes Regions.  Many Old House & Barn Expo goers are Chronicle fans. “WMUR gladly supports the work of the NH Preservation Alliance and their goal of preserving the historic buildings and places across New Hampshire,” said Ahni Malachi.

Here are dditional profiles. More on our sponsors to be posted soon, and more on the Expo .

Winning and the Old House and Barn Expo

Everyone who attends the Old House and Barn Expo is a winner, right? Because you gain information, contacts and inspiration.  The gathering is also a special chance to meet New Hampshire authors and advisors on preservation and place, passionate craftspeople, and like-minded folks.

Check out these other Expo-only opportunities to win big for old house and barn owners and enthusiasts

Bid on custom kitchen cabinetry (photo below) valued at approximately $17,000, generously donated by long-time Preservation Alliance sponsor and supporter Vintage Kitchens. On display at the Expo. All bidders will need to exceed a $1,500 minimum.  More information here


Also, take a chance to win a small timber frame constructed by members of the Timber Framers Guild during the show. We’ve heard from past Expo timber frame winners that they are enjoying them as a sugar shack (photo below), a back yard get-away that features a hot tub, and (more routinely) as utility sheds. Tickets will be sold at the Expo for $5/each or 5 for $20. 


You can also bid on a set of old handhewn beams, mostly hemlock, from an old post and beam house that was torn down after a fire.  Some of the timbers have some notching, also some holes with pegs.  Email if you want specs or other questions answered before the Expo. Donated by a member of the Preservation Alliance.


The announcement of these winners will be Sunday, March 25 afternoon at the Expo. You need not be present to win.

All Expo attendees will also be entered to win door prizes of memberships, books and other preservation-related items.  Scavenger hunt participants will also be eligible for small prizes.

All proceeds support the work of the NH Preservation Alliance.

Behind the Scenes at the Expo: Some of our Sponsors

The N.H. Preservation Alliance's generous sponsors help make the Old House & Barn Expo, and preservation work across the state, possible. Here are four:

Antique Homes Magazine: Connections and Advice for Old House and Barn Buyers, Sellers and Stewards

This magazine and web-site help you find historic properties for sale, and offer a product and service directory, articles related to historic preservation, and an on-line guide to historic architectural styles. Serving New England since 1995. “The Old House & Barn Expo provides a terrific forum to meet up with other old house owners, admire their old house “baby” pictures, and to learn from skilled craftsmen and building professionals sympathetic to the uniqueness of these buildings,” said Ginger Petraglia.  “The upbeat, “can-do” attitude of the NH Preservation Alliance serves a cross generational population who value what came before and strive to make possible an enduring legacy.” You can follow their posts on Facebook, and visit their booth at the Expo.  Antiques Home Magazine

Bedard Preservation & Restoration: Old House, Barn and Historic Building Repair, Rehab and Restoration   

This Gilmanton, NH-based company offers over 40 years of experience with buildings dating from 1685 through 1930.  Services include initial project evaluation, structural work, interior/exterior detail work as well as coordination with subcontractor. “Our common sense approach translates into a project that runs smoothly and is cost effective,” said Steve Bedard.  Visit their booth at the Expo and attend Bedard’s two-part sessions Saturday, March 24 at noon (assessing buildings) and 2 p.m. (adding 21st century comfort and convenience). Bedard Preservation & Restoration

Preservation Timber Framing: Analysis and Repair of Timber Framed Structures

 This team of highly talented craftsmen is dedicated to the preservation of historic buildings, specializing in the structural repair of timber framed structures. Their resume includes work on old houses and barns as well as small- and large-scale, award-winning church and meetinghouse projects. “The Expo is the icing on the cake that is the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance,” Arron Sturgis said.   “It is a celebration of preservation and an affirmation of the important and critical work the Alliance does in this state.” Preservation Timber Framing


New Hampshire Home: Sharing Stories, Advice and Inspiration

Showcases the work of talented architects, interior and garden designers, artists, craftsmen and others whose work makes New Hampshire homes unique places in which to live.  “As someone who lives in an old home and writes about old homes, I always look forward to the Old House and Barn Expo," said Andi Axman, editor of the magazine New Hampshire Home. “It’s a great place to learn more about what we can do to preserve these treasures and meet others who love them, too.” New Hampshire Home

Additional profiles will be posted before the Expo. More on our sponsors and the Expo here


With Words and By Hand: Information and Inspiration at Old House and Barn Expo

Visit with specialists at the Old House & Barn Expo who can swing a hammer, repair plaster, build stone walls, move historic buildings and design historic gardens. You can also engage with New England authors who, with their words, share practical information and inspiration. Here is information about a few and when you can enjoy their presentations at the Expo.

Ideas about Place and Preservation

Farmer, social historian and former Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets & Food Steve Taylor will facilitate a conversation about place and preservation with three New Hampshire authors on Sunday, March 25 at 11 a.m.: Joe Monninger, author of A Barn in New England and Home Waters: Fishing with an Old Friend, author and newspaper columnist John Clayton; and Howard Mansfield, author of The Same Axe, Twice, Dwelling in Possibility and In the Memory House, with his newest book Summer Over Autumn.   What people might not know, according to Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the Preservation Alliance, is that Monninger features real, special places in his adult and young adult fiction, Mansfield has helped preserve irreplaceable community features in the Monadnock Region and Clayton brings his history as a  Manchester native to his work as the director of the Manchester Historic Association.  “These writers have so much to share with both active and armchair preservationists,” she said.

Helping Old Houses and Barns “Speak”

Jim Garvin, retired State Architectural Historian and author of A Building History of Northern New England, will present The Old House Speaks: Learning to Read the Physical Evidence on Saturday, March 24 at 1 p.m.. This talk will describe the architectural clues found in every old house, from its overall style to the details of doors, windows, paneling, moldings and hardware.  These elements changed over time.  Together, they can help estimate when a house was built and when later changes were made to it, allowing the old house to speak to us and tell us its story.  Garvin’s encyclopedic knowledge of New Hampshire, thoughtful analysis of individual projects and passion for preservation has led to “saves” across the state – from homes and bridges to mill building and hotels.

Jim DeStefano, author of Antique New England Homes and Barns, will talk about the historical development and evolution of early New England timber frames on Sunday, March 25 at noon. He will also discuss common issues and challenges associated with restoring them. DeStefano brings the perspective of a practicing architect and structural engineer to this topic.

Advice Beyond the Old House

Henry Homeyer, garden columnist, commentator and author of four gardening books will present Tips and Tricks for Growing Flowers Your Grandparents Grew – and Maybe Their Grandparents, Too, on Saturday, March 24 at noon. It will be an illustrated presentation of favorite old flowers that were popular in the past, but are still good choices. In some cases, Homeyer will show modern cultivars of old favorites that are even better, and more disease resistant.

Kevin Gardner, teacher, stone mason and author of The Granite Kiss and Stone Building will present his topic on Saturday, March 24 at 3 p.m. His talk will touch on the history, technique, stylistic development, and aesthetics of stone walls.  He will explain how and why New England came to acquire its thousands of miles of stone walls, restoration tips and techniques, and information about design, acquisition of materials, preservation, and analysis. During his presentation, Gardner will build a miniature wall or walls on a tabletop, using tiny stones from a five-gallon bucket. 

Books will be on sale, and all of these authors will be available for conversation and booksigning following their talks.

Expo attendees can learn even more about these topics and others by visiting with exhibitors and attending other hourly education sessions. More here.

Pictured, from left, Kevin Gardner, Howard Mansfield, Joe Monninger and John Clayton. And some of their many books: which does with whom?


Expo Preview for Hip People

Old houses and history equal old-fashioned? No way! Here are five “hip-storical” reasons to attend the Old House and Barn Expo

New Old Buildings at the Old House and Barn Expo

At a session on mid-20th century architecture on March 25th and at exhibits on the show floor, folks will be talking about the newest old buildings. According to exhibitor Sally Zimmerman of Historic New England, “mid-century homes can offer an affordable alternative to first-time homebuyers in established suburbs: younger buyers appreciate the open floor plans, retro look, and smaller footprints of 1960s ranch houses and often they’re the least pricy options in desirable neighborhoods.” She noted that mid-century homes often have naturalistic settings with mature trees and plantings that add interest and privacy. “Adding on takes some skill,” Zimmerman cautioned, “but the modular nature of their original design can allow for enlargements in a vocabulary that is once again popular.”

  Mid-century modern homes of all sorts will be a topic of conversation at the Expo. This David Campbell designed house in Durham was built in the early 1950s for Mary and Edwin Scheier, famous potters who taught at UNH.  Courtesy: Peter Michaud.

Mid-century modern homes of all sorts will be a topic of conversation at the Expo. This David Campbell designed house in Durham was built in the early 1950s for Mary and Edwin Scheier, famous potters who taught at UNH.  Courtesy: Peter Michaud.

Made in the Shade Spaces for Old Homes

Life can be relaxing and enjoyable on the porch or in the garden, right? Presenters Gillian Lang and Henry Homeyer – and exhibitors – will offer historical perspectives and advice on these important, hip parts of homes we love.

  Talk to folks from Pope Memorial SPCA Concord - Merrimack about their Barn Cat Program.

Talk to folks from Pope Memorial SPCA Concord - Merrimack about their Barn Cat Program.

Cool Cats for Barn Owners

Pope Memorial SPCA Concord-Merrimack County will be at the show to inform attendees about barn cat adoption and care.  The Preservation Alliance’s members who are barn and barn cat owners report that their daily routine of barn cat care helps them keep track of barn maintenance issues. The cats also help control rodent population, and are fun to have around.


New Craft, Place and Preservation Perspectives from Experts

You’ll have a chance to connect with many local and national stars of the preservation and heritage world at the Expo:

  • Meet Tom McLaughlin, the new host of NHPBS’s Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking, and watch his demonstration with hand tools;
  • Enjoy hearing ideas on the importance of place and preservation with Steve Taylor, farmer and former commissioner of N.H. Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, and New Hampshire authors Howard Mansfield, Joe Monninger and John Clayton;
  • Learn how to “read” old buildings with Dr. James Garvin, architectural historian and award-winning author of A Building History of Northern New England;
  • Gain understanding of stone wall building with Kevin Gardner, teacher, stone mason and author of Granite Kiss and his new Stone Building;
  • Take away advice about gardening with your grandparents favorites from Henry Homeyer, garden columnist and commentator; and
  •  Learn about the evolution of timber frames in New England from Jim DeStefano, structural engineer, architect and author of Antique New England Homes and Barns and buy a chance to win a timber frame shed assembled at the show by members of the Timber Framers Guild.

Uber Local

Expo exhibitors and presenters advise about “go local” and sustainability every day. New Hampshire contractors and designers report an uptick of client interest in local materials. Sue Booth of Vintage Kitchens notes that her customers like to use local lumber for floors and millwork, and that native plants are popular for gardens. She said that it is easy to source local talent in addition to local materials. “We are also lucky to have so many talented craftsmen who can make hardware, cabinets, weathervanes, murals and more,” she added. Booth described the Expo as a “big farmer’s market of old house products and services.”

Share your thoughts at the March 24-25 Expo and with a note to



Town Meeting Preview 2018


The muddy roads, eighteen inches of fresh snow, sap buckets, and homemade yard signs can only mean one thing: it's town meeting season in New Hampshire. 

The warrant articles have been posted and we're working closely with local leaders on several preservation-related issues that will be put to voters. If you don't see your town's preservation initiative on this list, make sure to drop us a line. Contact Andrew Cushing at with the details.

 Ashland Town Hall (former town jail in background, far right)

Ashland Town Hall (former town jail in background, far right)

In Ashland, the Heritage Commission is hoping the voters will approve funds to match a 2016 LCHIP grant that would pay for a historic structures report on their 1871 brick town hall, listed to the National Register of Historic Places. Last year's attempt failed.

Rye voters will also be asked to choose a preservation option for their 1873 town hall, listed to Seven to Save in 2015. Rye voters have struggled for years to find a solution that both preserves the historic building and also allows for expansion of town offices. Preservation advocates are hoping that voters will reject an article to raise $3 million to demolish the old town hall and build a facsimile in its place.

 Stratham's former town hall is privately owned, but the Heritage Commission is looking to put an easement on it.

Stratham's former town hall is privately owned, but the Heritage Commission is looking to put an easement on it.

Stratham's Heritage Commission is hoping voters will support a preservation easement for the former town hall, which was sold into private hands in 1997 and now has a new owner. The 1877 second empire building is threatened with demolition - a fate that befell the neighboring house - but the new owner is willing to work with the Heritage Commission on an easement for the former town hall.


Three towns are asking for a “yes” to establish heritage commissions: Mont Vernon, Kensington, and Sandown

In Hinsdale, Friends of the Hope Engine House Co. No. 1 (Seven to Save 2017) petitioned the town to accept the 1850s fire station on town property so that restoration can commence.

In Chesterfield, voters will be asked to approve the sale of the former town office building to a local couple in exchange for the Gothic cottage's preservation.

In Belmont, Shaker Regional School District voters will be asked for a final time to sell the 1894 Gale School (Seven to Save 2017) to the Save Our Gale School committee. The sale will enable the group to plan for its relocation and redevelopment.

 Orford Academy, built in 1851 and now owned by the Rivendell School District.

Orford Academy, built in 1851 and now owned by the Rivendell School District.

Also in Belmont, a town committee is asking voters for $65,000 to be expended from a capital reserve fund to perform a Space Needs and Feasibility Study on various town buildings, including the town hall, Belmont Mill, Corner Meetinghouse, and library. 

Voters in Orford will be asked to endorse the conversion of the former Orford Academy into affordable senior housing. Rivendell Interstate School District would lease the long-vacant building to AHEAD, the same developers that converted Berlin's Notre Dame High School into affordable housing.

We are sure we missed some. Please contact Andrew Cushing at with the details.


Conversation with Tom McLaughlin

Old House and Barn Expo Preview: Conversation with Tom McLaughlin, host of popular TV show Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking

Visit with the new host of NHPBS’ popular TV show Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking, at the N.H. Preservation Alliance’s Old House & Barn Expo. Tom McLaughlin is a longtime woodworker and teacher and a member of the New Hampshire Furniture Masters. At the Expo, he will be working with hand tools and available for conversation on Saturday, March 24 between 1-5 p.m.

In advance of the Expo, the Preservation Alliance team asked Tom a few questions about his New Hampshire connections, myths about crafts and current trends before the event.

 The new season of  Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking  with Tom McLaughlin starts April 7th at 4:30 pm on New Hampshire PBS. Come see him in person at the Expo! Photo: NHPBS

The new season of Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking with Tom McLaughlin starts April 7th at 4:30 pm on New Hampshire PBS. Come see him in person at the Expo! Photo: NHPBS

What’s it like living and working in Canterbury, New Hampshire?

When I first looked at Canterbury as a potential place to live twenty years ago, I had no idea how much creative vitality was hiding behind the old stone walls of these rolling hills...I love living here! There are so many gifted independent creative entrepreneurs in town, it just feels normal to walk out to my workshop behind my home each morning.

My most influential friendship and professional associate in town is two-term NH artist laureate, David Lamb. We have shared so many design challenges and inspirations over the years, and I have benefited so much from being his kindred spirit, furniture making neighbor and friend. David was also instrumental in introducing me to the then newly formed NH Furniture Masters Association when first moving to town in 1997 with my wife Kris and three children under four years of age. Being a member, and former chairman, of the NH Furniture Masters stretched my skill levels and creative borders beyond my wildest imagination.

And Dave Emerson, another long-time woodworker and Canterbury resident, invited me to teach furniture making classes at the Shaker Village in the summer of 1998, which turned out to be the beginning of discovering my love for “passing on the craft.” Three years later we built a new shop behind our house, which turned into hosting woodworking classes, later forming, and led to currently hosting a national PBS woodworking show.

We think the Old House and Barn Expo offers rare connections for old home owners and craft enthusiasts to interact with craftspeople and each other. Why do you think this is important?

Most gifted craftspeople keep a low profile. It only takes a few private commissions to tie up their time and keep them hunkered down in their shops, out of sight and mind of the clients and connections that may be the best fit.

So getting out to craft shows like the Old House and Barn Expo are key to making connections. Not to mention the inspiration and encouragement gained from getting to know other craftspeople who may be in a related or similar craft.

What do you see as positive or negative trends related to the craft, preservation or old building world?

With emergence of the Information Age, the world of fine craft “how to” techniques is as simple as searching YouTube or some other craft related search engine. At the same time, CNC methods and the 3D printing industries are growing rapidly, threatening to marginalize many handcraft and old world techniques.

It is likely the best of the old world crafts and finer hand techniques will increasingly be carried on and proliferated by serious hobbyists, the availability of solid teaching, and information online. This is why I feel committed to sharing and “passing on the craft” in the most effective ways possible.