Keeping NH’s General Stores Open

Dick’s Store in Danbury closed, but has since re-opened.

Dick’s Store in Danbury closed, but has since re-opened.

The Brookline General Store closed in April 2017.

The Brookline General Store closed in April 2017.

When the owners of the Brookline General Store decided to close in April 2017, loyal patrons bemoaned the loss of their local hang-out. The store specialized in purveying local crafts and meat, boasted a loyal pizza fan base, and offered small town activities like community puzzles. But after a few short years, the owners wished for a more relaxing retirement.

The closing of a general store disrupts the nerve center for almost every small town in New Hampshire. Here, teenagers can get their first job and retirees can get their last. You can pick up a sandwich, birthday card, Squamscot soda, and the skinny on Shirley’s broken hip.

So what happens when your town’s general store closes? Brookline is far from the only recent closure: in the past few years, stores in Hill, Francestown, Grafton, West Canaan, Danbury, Bath, Sandwich, and Cornish have closed. Some have since re-opened, others plan to re-open, but several remain plagued by weak markets and/or costly, but necessary, upgrades.

These closures reveal a hard truth about general stores in today’s world. It’s a tough life for store clerks and owners. Gas no longer reliably brings people into the store, where profit margins are higher. Modernizing equipment in the kitchen or at the pumps can be prohibitively expensive. Help is hard to find – and keep.

But stores can and do re-open, and that’s the better story. Here are a few lessons we’ve learned from our conversations and travels throughout New Hampshire about today’s general stores:

New Models of Ownership

South Acworth Village Store

South Acworth Village Store

When Acworth residents learned that their sole store was heading for the open market in 2000, the historical society tried something radical. They bought it. Their thinking was not to make it a museum, but to own and operate the business which had been in South Acworth since 1865. With the help of an LCHIP grant and a mortgage, the historical society developed a novel model of ownership: a non-profit owned general store.

“We knew what atmosphere we wanted to create, but really…we were winging it,” said Kathi Bradt, one of the store’s champions.

At first, their model relied on volunteer labor. When that didn’t work, they found a tenant to lease the space and operate the store starting in 2002. In 2007, the selectboard agreed to waive property taxes, which allows the historical society to subsidize the rent to encourage the storekeeper to invest in the business. The South Acworth Village Store now offers a community garden, a beehive oven for pizzas in the summer, and six paid staff (making it the third largest employer in town). It takes annual fundraising to keep the business afloat, even with rental income from the post office and an upstairs apartment, but townspeople recognize its value to the town’s social and economic life.

Francestown’s General Store is expected to re-open this fall under a new CSE ownership model.

Francestown’s General Store is expected to re-open this fall under a new CSE ownership model.

South Acworth’s model, sometimes known as a Community Supported Enterprise or CSE, also exists in Canterbury, Harrisville, Hooksett, Freedom, Lancaster, Eaton, and soon, Francestown.  Each store fits their model to the community they serve. Some stores are owned and managed by the nonprofit; others are owned by the nonprofit but leased to a separate private or nonprofit entity; and some, like Freedom and the Root Seller in Lancaster, are nonprofits located in a privately-owned building. Some of the stores sell lottery tickets, beer, cigarettes, and ready-to-go meals. Others pick and choose based on profit margins, the organization’s values, and space limitations.

TO-GO ITEMS:

RSA 79-G was passed in 2013 to benefit community-owned stores located in historic buildings. If your building is 100 years or older, listed on the State or National Register of Historic Places, owned by a nonprofit, historically and presently used as a store, smaller than 3,000 square feet of finished space, and your town has passed the measure at town meeting, the building and the land directly under it are eligible for re-appraisal at no more than 10% of its market value.

To date, only one store in the state is enrolled in the program: Robie’s in Hooksett.

CSEs in New Hampshire share a few similarities:

-Acworth, Harrisville, Canterbury, and Eaton rent space to the US Postal Service for post offices. (Hebron did this, too.)

-Nearly every CSE includes apartments that provide stable monthly income.

-None of the CSEs in NH currently have gas pumps.

-In most instances, CSEs work best in slightly isolated towns, where the general store serves a radius of 10+ miles.

In Canterbury and Hebron, citizens rallied and formed an LLC to purchase their stores. Local investors then purchased shares of the business, which gave them voices at the annual shareholder’s meeting. In the case of Hebron, this model worked for over a decade. “But eventually, the shareholders got tired of fixing frozen pipes at 1am,” recalls Mike Lemieux. When one of the shareholders offered to buy back the shares and return the store to private ownership, the shareholders agreed to sell.

“We consider our experiment a success. We kept the store open for many years and proved its commercial viability to the next owner,” says Lemieux. 

Canterbury remains owned by the LLC and continues to field interested calls from around the country. “It’s been a very good model for us,” says Lisa Carlson, one of the masterminds behind the community project. “When we need electrical work or sill repair, the shareholders respond. We didn’t buy stocks to make money, we did it to keep the heart of our community alive.”

Traditional Models, New Ideas

Danbury Country Store.

Danbury Country Store.

Most general stores in New Hampshire are still owned by families and individuals who enjoy the pace of running a small town general store. As always, these stores pride themselves on diversity of products. Just take a look at Wentworth Location’s Mount Dustan’s Country Store, where you can get your moose processed and some ice cream.

Danbury Country Store was most recently voted best in New Hampshire by WMUR. The yellow building stands at the corner of Route 4 and 104 in a town famous for its haunt, “Hippie Hill,” a modest rise between the road and the railroad bed that still attracts motorcyclists, beer guzzlers, and horseshoe players.

When the Danbury Country Store came up for sale in 2013, siblings Jim Phelps and Audrey Pellegrino decided to buy it and recreate the atmosphere it had lost after decades of renovations. Specifically, they wanted to see it as it was when their parents operated the exact same store in the 1960s and ‘70s. Nearly fifty years later, they knew the store would have to cater to tourists, bicyclists on the nearby Northern Rail Trail, and the everyday customer. Says Pellegrino, “Tourists help you to expand and grow but the locals keep you in business.”

The store includes a deli counter where they make 90% of their food and offer to-go dinners, space for local goods like whoopie pies and the historical society calendars, and plenty of seating for sandwich eaters. Store owners in North Sutton, Westmoreland, and Tamworth agree: good eating, good atmosphere, and great customer service make a small town store more successful.

The interior of Tamworth’s “The Other Store.”

The interior of Tamworth’s “The Other Store.”

The diversity of products can contribute to the chaos, but according to Danbury’s Pellegrino, her customers keep her going. “I love being part of the community, helping people to find solutions and to hopefully make someone leave in a happier mood than when they entered. The 70-100 hours a week that I work are just a bonus.”

Have a favorite general store? Is your community facing a store closure? Let us know!

 

Hope for St. Joseph's Church in Laconia

The Diocese has called off a sale that involved the demolition of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in downtown Laconia.

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When news hit that the recently-merged parish would have to demolish the 1929 building on Church Street in order to meet the needs of a purchase and sale agreement, church members and city residents grew alarmed. Community members sought advice from the Preservation Alliance, held meetings, wrote letters to the Diocese and the Vatican, and proposed the creation of a local historic district to halt demolition.

On May 30, the NH Preservation Alliance, Tom Mayes from the National Trust, and Father Georges de Laires discussed the matter on an episode of NHPR’s The Exchange.

Unfortunately, the demolition permit was filed before any district could be created and the only real tools the Heritage Commission could wield were public pressure and a demolition delay of 30 days.

Public pressure may have paid off.

Though the demolition permit has not yet been pulled, the Diocese’s decision to renegotiate the purchase and sale agreement is a promising start. Future hurdles will include how best to reuse St. Joseph’s. The Catholic Church imposes limitations on uses for former places or worship, but we’re fortunate to have several examples of reuse here in New Hampshire, including:

-St. Keiran’s in Berlin now serves as a community center for the arts

-St. Anne’s in Manchester provides after-school programs (side note: this property will soon be for sale after the merger between NHIA and New England College)

-Sacred Heart in Concord has been converted into beautiful condominiums for ten families

For more information about developing news out of Laconia and St. Joseph’s Church, read The Laconia Daily Sun article here.

For an editorial from the Concord Monitor, click here.

Forest Society Announces Preservation Proposal for Creek Farm in Portsmouth

On June 13, just weeks from being granted a demolition permit, the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests announced a deal to save Creek Farm, a rare survivor of the seacoast summer colony with ties to the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth, instead of demolish it. Announcement by the Society below, followed by excerpts from earlier statements from the Preservation Alliance about the site’s significance and desire for a “win-win” solution.

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FOREST SOCIETY REACHES AGREEMENT ON CAREY COTTAGE

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (June 13, 2019) The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with a local family foundation on a long-term lease of the Carey Cottage at Creek Farm, subject to successful due diligence over the next 30 days

Under the agreement, the foundation will provide funding for the renovation of the Carey Cottage and Chinburg Properties will renovate the building, including the Music Room.

 “The key to saving the Carey Cottage has always been finding a partner with the means to restore it, a proposed use that complements Creek Farm’s status as a conserved space open to the public, and a track record that suggests they can maintain the building over time,” said Jane A. Difley, the president/forester of the Forest Society. “We’re delighted to consider the foundation and Eric Chinburg as the team that can accomplish those goals.”

The Carey Cottage will become the headquarters of a newly created center dedicated to fostering the growth and success of non-profit organizations. The building will also host other non-profit organizations.

 “We had been looking for an appropriate place to house the center when we became aware of the Carey Cottage,” said the foundation’s principals.  “In partnership with Eric and the Forest Society, we think we can use the Carey Cottage to advance the center’s mission while preserving an historic building.”

The center will provide the space, tools and connections that nonprofits need to build strong organizations, thriving local economies, and vibrant communities in the region. Through incubator and accelerator services, workshops, events, and other programs, the center will help nonprofits become strong successful organizations.

 “I’m looking forward to renovating the Carey Cottage and making it work for the community,” said Eric Chinburg, President of Chinburg Properties. “We take pride in our ability to repurpose unique buildings while maintaining public use of the surroundings.”

Eric Chinburg is founder of Chinburg Properties, a land development, design, construction and property management firm headquartered in Newmarket, NH.  For more than 20 years the company has preserved numerous historic mills and schools in the Seacoast and central New Hampshire. Chinburg projects are known for unique design aspects utilizing original materials and creatively incorporating them into the project.  These projects have successfully incorporated residential and mixed-use components and have been successfully managed over the long term

“I want to thank the multiple other individuals and entities who reached out constructively and worked with us in good faith on ideas and other proposals for an appropriate re-use of the Carey Cottage,” said Jack Savage, vice president of communications/outreach at the Forest Society. “We look forward to working with the foundation and Chinburg as we continue the Forest Society’s mission to conserve Creek Farm and provide public access to the Sagamore Creek waterfront.”

 Below are excerpts from the Preservation Alliance’s public statements about the Carey Cottage’s cultural significance and our desire for a “win-win” solution.

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance opposes the Forest Society’s plan to demolish Carey Cottage at Creek Farm, an iconic property on Sagamore Creek in Portsmouth, N.H., with great architectural, cultural, and historical significance.

As many of you know, Carey Cottage was determined eligible for National Register of Historic Places in 2000.  The Preservation Alliance urges the City of Portsmouth to affirm Creek Farm’s significance and encourage an alternative to demolition.

The Preservation Alliance is a non-profit membership organization that works all over the state to encourage investment in historic buildings and downtowns and tp expand knowledge of preservation strategies and benefits. We work with approximately 100 community projects and hundreds of property owners each year.  We believe that this property has a viable “win-win” preservation solution with a use that is compatible with its history, site and neighbors, as well as with the community benefit goals of the current and previous owners.

About its significance:  Built beginning in 1887, the house is an outstanding example of the summer home movement in New Hampshire, and a rare survivor of the artistic summer colony at Little Harbor.  “The Little Harbor Community” included prominent writers, artists, architects and historians. Arthur Astor Carey summer house or “Creek Farm” was designed by noted architect Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow.  Longfellow had worked previously for Henry Hobson Richardson and was a Harvard acquaintance of Carey’s and of J. Templeman Coolidge III (1856-1945), who led a group of prominent Bostonians in establishing summer homes near Sagamore Creek. According to the N.H. Division of Historical Resources, the Carey House survives as Longfellow’s most ambitious New Hampshire commission.

Creek Farm also has national significance for its association with the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the Russo-Japanese War.  The Russian and Japanese diplomats were informally entertained at Creek Farm during negotiations, an example of “Citizen Diplomacy,” for which the state of New Hampshire provides annual recognition on Sept. 5.  The Katsura tree, gifted by the Japanese delegation, still grows near the house.  Of all the New Hampshire sites related to the Treaty negotiations, Creek Farm is also considered the most intact.

There are many collaborative models for creative and compatible uses of historic properties that the Forest Society can continue to explore or replicate. Here are just as few examples:

·        The Conservation Commission in Windham, N.H., has preserved a historic home by providing a long-term lease to a carpenter/developer for an 1868 farmhouse adjacent to conserved public land. 

·        Equity Trust, a nonprofit organization based in Massachusetts, owns Dimond Hill Farm in Concord, N.H., and the current life estate owner will be succeeded by future farmers

·        A curatorship program operated by the State of Massachusetts leases historic properties within public lands to private entities.

Additionally, there are a variety of tools that are useful for preserving historic places and ensuring that the underlying goals for the property are met. In addition to long-term leases, we advocate for consideration of preservation easements to meet stewardship and public benefit goals. Subsidies are also available for preservation projects from organizations such as the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), as well as tax incentives and grants from state and national agencies and organizations.

2019 Preservation Achievement Award Winner: Brady Sullivan Properties Lofts 34 in Nashua

The historic building known as the “Card Shop” was part of a sprawling industrial complex in Nashua owned by the The Nashua Gummed and Coated Paper Company, whose construction began in 1889. Brady Sullivan purchased the vacant and neglected building in 2015, and since then has transformed the 300,000 sq.ft. building into a trendy home for 200 apartments. (Photo courtesy of Brady Sullivan.)

The historic building known as the “Card Shop” was part of a sprawling industrial complex in Nashua owned by the The Nashua Gummed and Coated Paper Company, whose construction began in 1889. Brady Sullivan purchased the vacant and neglected building in 2015, and since then has transformed the 300,000 sq.ft. building into a trendy home for 200 apartments. (Photo courtesy of Brady Sullivan.)

Brady Sullivan Properties for the revitalization of 34 Franklin Street, Nashua, as Lofts 34 

With partners: City of Nashua; NH Division of Historical Resources; Lisa Mausolf, LM Preservation; Hayner/Swanson, Inc.; Universal Window and Door; Energy Electric Co., Inc.; Dimond Protection Services, LLC; and Emond Plumbing & Heating Mechanical Contractors.

 The Nashua Gummed and Coated Paper Company started construction of its industrial complex in 1889, and over the years added some ten additions to meet changing production needs.  Unlike Nashua’s dominant textile industries, the “Card Shop,” as it was known, was able to thrive during the early 20th century in large part due to research and new product development. Renamed Nashua Corporation in 1952, the company continued to operate here until the 1990s. Generations of Nashua families found work in this Franklin Street facility.  

Dimond Protection Services, LLC; Emond Plumbing & Heating Mechanical ContractorsThe Nashua Gummed and Coated Paper Company started construction of its industrial complex in 1889, and over the years added some ten additions to meet changing production needs.  Unlike Nashua’s dominant textile industries, the “Card Shop,” as it was known, was able to thrive during the early 20th century in large part due to research and new product development. Renamed Nashua Corporation in 1952, the company continued to operate here until the 1990s. Generations of Nashua families found work in this Franklin Street facility, now Lofts 34

By the time Brady Sullivan purchased the building in 2015, the building had been vacant for at least seven years and the absentee owners had long since stopped paying taxes—a reversal from when Nashua Corp was the city’s largest taxpayer in the 1960s. The massive 300,000 square-foot brick building had been vandalized, covered in graffiti and was a haven for the homeless. Work on the building began in February 2016, removing asbestos and stemming the flow of the water pouring into the structure. 

The mill’s 500-plus deteriorated windows in a dozen configurations were character-defining elements that reflected the various accretions and additions the building had seen, but represented a major challenge. Presenting another challenge were the 180 locations where once large window openings had been in-filled with brick and small incongruous aluminum slider windows.

Inside, the architects thoughtfully superimposed 200 apartments on an interior plan that also was highly irregular, reflecting the constant addition of new sections over the years. Brick walls and fire doors separated what were originally distinct areas with different functions.  The storehouses on the south side of the building had additional stories with lower ceiling heights and the levels did not correspond to those in the main mill areas. In this area, two-level living units were the solution. Several units even incorporate a former elevator shaft.

In short, this was not cookie cutter mill rehabilitation, but rather a complicated design challenge that resulted in a range of apartment sizes and configurations that boast quirky and unique elements from the building’s former life.

This federal historic tax credit project has been warmly received by City of Nashua officials and builds on the City’s goal of bringing new people to downtown. Its 200 market-rate units make it one of the biggest projects in downtown Nashua in recent years, and like earlier mill rehabilitations at Clocktower Place and Cotton Mill, the former Card Shop infuses the former industrial area with new energy that is essential to the health of the downtown.   

2019 Preservation Achievement Award Winner: Terry Knowles

Terry Knowles received an award for her outstanding public service, leadership and support of statewide historic preservation-related activities in a career of nearly four decades. (Photo by Rick Kipphut )

Terry Knowles received an award for her outstanding public service, leadership and support of statewide historic preservation-related activities in a career of nearly four decades. (Photo by Rick Kipphut )

Terry Knowles has been an incredible problem solver for historic places, as well as an educator about charitable “best practices” for almost four decades. People who care about New Hampshire’s historic libraries, grange halls, cemeteries, easements and age-old trust funds know Terry’s commitment to public service.

A UNH graduate, Terry Knowles held the position of Assistant Director of Charitable Trusts at the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office for 37 years on a full-time basis and continues to work there part-time. She is twice past president of the National Association of State Charity Officials, and writes and lectures locally and nationally on the nonprofit sector. Her expertise on charitable trusts makes Terry an especially popular drafter of laws, including the federal Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act. She has made presentations at Georgetown, Columbia and Harvard University on nonprofit issues.

She has an impressive resume of civic leadership and contributions beyond her day job as well. Terry served as a Commissioner on the Southern NH Planning Commission for 27 years, served as trustee of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, and currently chairs the New Hampshire Historic Burial Ground Commission. She is the State Chair of the DAR Special Project Grants Program and in her hometown of Weare, has served on the Mildred Hall Bequest Advisory Committee where she approved grants to preserve unique land and buildings in town. She is a former Weare Library Trustee, Cemetery Trustee, and Selectwoman.

Terry is also an adjunct professor at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire and teaches in the Master of Public Administration program.

It is this remarkable track record and dedication to her job and extracurriculars that keeps her phone ringing. Terry receives calls from local officials daily about the use—and misuse —of charitable funds. To help local officials learn their responsibilities, Terry created and then delivered a series of annual seminars for municipal cemetery, library and trust fund trustees. They have gone on for more than 30 years, and we’re sure that many of you have attended them in the past and had Terry answer your very specific question about opportunistic selectmen looking for spare change.  

Terry says she would rather educate than regulate. It is likely because of this approach that she has earned so much respect. Tom Donovan, Director of Charitable Trusts, says: “It is rare for a state official to be admired as much by those organizations she regulates as by those people who are her fellow regulators.”

 

2019 Preservation Achievement Awards: Town of Hancock and First Congregational Church of Hancock

The 1820 Hancock Meetinghouse is one of only two in New Hampshire that are jointly owned by a town and a church. It serves as the anchor of the town’s historic village. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Hancock.)

The 1820 Hancock Meetinghouse is one of only two in New Hampshire that are jointly owned by a town and a church. It serves as the anchor of the town’s historic village. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Hancock.)

With partners: David J. Drasba, AIA; MacMillian/DEW; Elizabeth Durfee Hengen, Preservation Consultant; Curtains Without Borders; D.S. Huntington Company; Winn Mountain Restorations, LLC; Stebbins Spectacular Painting Company LLC; The Hancock Improvement Association, Inc.; Land and Community Heritage Investment Program.

The 1820 Hancock Meetinghouse is the anchor of a remarkable historic village nestled within adjacent forested hills overlooking pristine Norway Pond. The Meetinghouse is considered one of New Hampshire’s finest Federal-style churches, as one of several meetinghouses located along a linear path of similarly designed steeples known as the “Templeton Run.”

The Hancock Meetinghouse is also one of only two remaining in New Hampshire under the joint ownership of a town and a church. The Meetinghouse exterior was altered only once in appearance since the building’s construction when, in 1851, the building was moved from its original location and the interior was divided into two floors. Like in many other New Hampshire towns, the first floor served town purposes, while the new second floor was dedicated for church activities. Despite these changes, the steeple remained unaltered and still carries a bell from the foundry of Paul Revere. 

The project to restore the Meetinghouse completed the building’s first major renovation in 100 years. A Historic Structure Report outlined the necessary work, which was funded through a combination of capital reserve funds, LCHIP grants, and private contributions. Work included: structural repairs to the timber frame, mechanical and electrical systems upgrades, installation of a new slate roof, exterior clapboard repair and painting, installation of a seamless LULA lift, restoration of the steeple’s weathervane, balustrades, and finials; restoration of all original windows, installation of proper storms, and the conservation of the painted stage curtain. This work also follows an effort to bury power lines in the village, allowing for much improved visuals of the town’s most prized architectural landmarks.

Thanks to the Meetinghouse restoration, the building continues to play an important role in the activities of Hancock. In addition to weekly religious services, weddings and funerals, Town Meeting returned to the building, and various local organizations and cultural groups are using the building for concerts, lectures, bake sales, Christmas craft fairs, and the annual Old Home Day celebration. It has become the rehearsal and performance home of Music on Norway Pond.  Each season there are close to 70 rehearsals, involving 200 singers and over 1,000 program attendees.

This award salutes Hancock’s high quality foundation-to-weathervane-work fueled by strong community support and a great team. We know you’ll agree when we say the results speak for themselves.

2019 Preservation Achievement Award: Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion

The Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion in Portsmouth, shown above during the 2019 Lilac Festival, was built between 1695 and 1750 and was donated to the State of New Hampshire in 1954. The Wentworth-Coolidge Commission was created in 1982 to assist with its maintenance and preservation. In recent years, the commission and various state departments have worked together to successfully restore, rehabilitate and steward the 40-room mansion. (Photo courtesy of the Wentworth-Coolidge Commission.)

The Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion in Portsmouth, shown above during the 2019 Lilac Festival, was built between 1695 and 1750 and was donated to the State of New Hampshire in 1954. The Wentworth-Coolidge Commission was created in 1982 to assist with its maintenance and preservation. In recent years, the commission and various state departments have worked together to successfully restore, rehabilitate and steward the 40-room mansion. (Photo courtesy of the Wentworth-Coolidge Commission.)

With partners: Studio TKM and Winn Mountain Restorations, LLC.

This award recognizes a multi-year collaboration between the non-profit Wentworth Coolidge Commission and the State of New Hampshire to tackle significant preservation projects together at the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion in Portsmouth.

The 40-room mansion was constructed between 1695 and 1750 and served as the residence of royal governor Benning Wentworth. The mansion and grounds on Little Harbor served as the epicenter of Portsmouth’s social and political spheres through much of the 18th century. Governor Wentworth today is best known for his granting of many charters of towns in New Hampshire and Vermont, and for marrying his housekeeper who was forty-one years his junior.  In 1883, the mansion was purchased by the Coolidge Family and became a summer retreat for Boston artists.

In 1954, the Coolidge Family donated the mansion to the State of New Hampshire, and what is considered the only extant Royal Governor’s mansion in North America became a state park. To assist with maintenance and preservation initiatives, the Wentworth-Coolidge Commission was created in 1982.

Together, these entities have made great strides on the historic mansion and set a new standard for matching private monies with public support.  Recent work includes completing a major window restoration project on sashes that receive more than their fair share of exposure to the elements; replacing the iconic red cedar shake roof; addressing foundation issues; restoring interior furnishings and reproducing period wallpaper; and tending to the site’s equally historic purple lilacs.

This site was home to North America’s first lilacs in 1750, and since 2010, the Commission has worked to eradicate damaging fungal growth, create a lilac nursery, and plant new lilacs around the property.