Lessons to be learned from Old Home Days. Historic photo: Newmarket Old Home Days
One of the biggest topics of conversation in New Hampshire over the last few years centers around the proposed Northern Pass project. While we wait for the Site Evaluation Committee to release its written opinion, Jennifer Goodman (our Executive Director) and Sharee Williamson from National Trust for Historic Preservation took some time to write an engaging article sharing what they have learned, and what it could mean for our cultural and historic landscape. 3/29/18 UPDATE below photo
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.
These additional town meeting results have come to our attention:
In Chatham, voters approved a measure, 46-7, to transfer ownership of one of the town's last one room schoolhouse to the Historical Society. After the school closed in 1968, it became a library. Now the building will become headquarters of the Chatham Historical Society.
To share news from your community, email Andrew Cushing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com with the details.
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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the details.
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.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
The N.H. Preservation Alliance has received a $50,000 block grant award from the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) to help us continue to fund condition assessments on historic buildings across our state.
The money will be distributed to applying nonprofits and municipalities hoping to better understand historic building needs before applying for larger bricks and mortar grants. Since 2010, we have granted 43 condition assessments; these have propelled groups in diverse places like Canaan, Portsmouth, Middleton, Newbury, Keene, Rye, and Haverhill develop "road maps" to successful preservation projects. The matching block grants, which range from $1,000 to $4,500, fund teams of architectural historians, preservation contractors, and/or architects to analyze a building's architectural evolution and pressing maintenance needs.
“The planning money is often hard for groups at the start of a project to secure, and it is critical to getting what are often very complicated projects off to a good start,” said Jennifer Goodman, our executive director. A strong planning document often saves project leaders time and money in the long run.
Other LCHIP historic resource recipients include twenty-nine buildings representing nearly two centuries of New Hampshire history, from 1769 to 1967. Eight of the historic properties had been listed to the Preservation Alliance’s Seven to Save list of endangered properties, and three have received planning grants from the organization. The new group of grant winners includes two rare remaining railroad buildings (Bartlett Roundhouse and Wolfeboro Freight Shed) and the first monument in the country dedicated to women’s service in both military and civilian roles (at Cathedral of the Pines, Rindge).
The Preservation Alliance is very grateful to the N.H. Legislature and Governor for their support of LCHIP, a catalytic program that supports good jobs and keeps money circulating in local economies.
Is your group interested in starting a preservation project? Call us today to figure out how to begin.
Hooray! Here are some ideas for you and your friends and neighbors to take action and celebrate preservation activity.
Take care of your old home. Springtime means checking for winter damage, inspecting foundations and painting! Hire a professional to do an assessments so you don't waste time or resources. Re-tune old windows to improve operations, increase energy efficiency and preserve original features of an old house. Check out our calendar regarding barn workshops and other gatherings here.
Appreciate your community. Look at the place where you live (your street, road or neighborhood) and note how many historic buildings and structures you can see. Show your kids the building where you went to school, or where you got married. Support your local farm, and thank a neighbor who has fixed up his or her barn. Are there places you can't imagine your community without? Start a conversation with other interested citizens to consider planning tools like easements and tax incentives to turn a challenge into an opportunity.
Be an advocate for preserving our heritage. Express your support to state and local officials for the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, New Hampshire's popular and effective matching grants program for historic preservation and land conservation projects. Volunteer to serve on your local planning board, library board, cemetery commission, or downtown organization. Help with a local preservation project. Enjoy dinner in an old inn or a play or concert at a historic theater.
Share your successes and concerns. Come to our annual awards celebration! And we want to hear from you! Keep us posted on what's happening in your community. We welcome your thoughts and ideas. Post on our Facebook page or send to Jennifer Goodman.
More from our national partners, National Trust for Historic Preservation.