Newest Seven to Save Features Diverse Threatened Places

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance has announced its 2018 Seven to Save list today, featuring the Ruggles 236-acre mica mine in Grafton, the 250-acre Laconia State School campus, a dam of a water-power system at Canterbury Shaker Village and the enormous exhibition barn at the Rochester Fairgrounds. Also on the list highlighting endangered historic landscapes as well as iconic structures is a home dating from the 18th and 19th century that stretches along the common at Haverhill Corner, an Italianate parsonage in Lee and a Prairie-style residence built for the Director of the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Manchester. Watch for stories of the seven that will be unveiled in the coming days. Short descriptions here.

“These places makes our state distinctive, and help connect us to our rich and complex history,” said Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the Preservation Alliance. “The need for new investment and creative re-uses as well as deterioration and demolition are varied threats to the historic properties on this list. Here are seven great opportunities to transform threatened resources into vibrant assets once again that help meet community and economic goals.”  She noted that the list is the most diverse in the program’s 12-year history, and many of the listees are not yet well-known or understood, even in their own communities. Photos below, scroll to right: one of a campus of National-Register eligible buildings on the former Laconia State School campus, the Director’s House at the Manchester VA Hospital, former parsonage in Lee, exhibit hall barn at the Rochester Fairgrounds, Ruggles Mine, Turning Mill Pond at Canterbury Shaker Village, and the Col. Brown House in Haverhill Corner.

The list was announced at a N.H. Preservation Alliance event celebrating the rehabilitation of Washington’s iconic 1787 Meetinghouse (which was listed to Seven to Save when future was uncertain in 2014).

“This iconic New England village is a fitting place to hold an event that showcases irreplaceable landmarks, power of people who love and champion special places, and the social and economic benefits of historic preservation activity,” according to Andrew Cushing, Field Service Representative at the Preservation Alliance. “These positive themes need to be front and center as we address the enormous challenges ahead.”

Additional Washington sites featured at the announcement included the 1881 Shedd Free Library, Gibson Pewter, Washington Meetinghouse, and the Historical Society barn, which won a Preservation Achievement Award in 2006.  

Seven to Save listing has helped to attract new investment and re-use options for over 50% of the community landmarks that have received the designation since the program began in 2006.  Criteria for Seven to Save include the property’s historical or architectural significance, severity of the current threat, and the extent to which the Seven to Save listing would help in preserving the property.  Typically, nominated properties are owned by non-profits, municipalities or commercial entities, and have local advocates willing to work toward a creative “save” rather than allowing continued deterioration and possible demolition. 

Seven to Save attracts attention to threats and helps forge possible solutions for endangered properties.  Examples of successes include the Wolfeboro Town Hall, Charlestown Town Hall, Kensington Town Hall, Pickering House in Wolfeboro, Watson Academy in Epping, the Pandora Mill in Manchester, Littleton Community Center, and the Langdon Meetinghouse.  Seven to Save sites that still need more creative planning, new investment, and advocacy include the Balsams in Dixville Notch, Concord’s iconic Gas Holder House, the Chandler House in Manchester, Sanborn Seminary in Kingston, and the former Brown Paper Company’s R & D building in Berlin.

Seven to Save’s sponsors for 2018 include the Pinnacle Leadership Foundation, Chinburg Builders, Christopher P. Williams Architects, Levasseur Electrical Contractors, Inc., Milestone Engineering & Construction, Nathan Wechsler & Co., The MacMillin Company, and North Branch Construction. Also Ciborowski Associates , CMK Architects, Cobb Hill Construction, Dennis Mires, P.A. The Architects, Historic Sashworks, Misiaszek Turpin, Norton Asset Management, Steppingstone Masonry, Udelsman Associates  and Windows & Doors by Brownell.

2018 Preservation Achievement Awards: Littleton Community Center

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For nearly a century, the Littleton Community Center has welcomed an estimated two million people through its doors. The Queen Anne mansion, formerly owned by a North Country lumber magnate, was purchased by the town following WWI. The idea, hatched by local prominent residents, was to create a living monument to the fallen soldiers. 

The house was to serve as a community center, with bunks and showers in the basement for homeless veterans and an apartment for the building's caretakers. When the property was finally dedicated as a memorial, it was agreed that its public purpose should be “…the advancement of health, training for service and the social, moral, recreational and general welfare of Littleton and surrounding communities.” 

Unfortunately, the beautiful Main Street property suffered from deferred maintenance and in 2012 was listed to the Alliance's Seven to Save. In the following years, the board and the town committed to restoring the building. In 2013-15, a new roof was added, electrical was updated, and new life safety systems were installed. A new, more efficient heating system was also installed. (From the 2012 Seven to Save nomination: “The concern about the antiquated heating system is so dire that a ‘baby monitor’ has been placed in the basement so the live-in caretakers (who live three floors above) can monitor sounds of the furnace in case it shuts down.”

What really makes the cars on Main Street slow down, though, was the removal of the 1970s vinyl siding. In 2016, the vinyl came off, the clapboards and shingles were repaired and replaced where necessary, new storms were installed, and a historic paint scheme was selected.

The LCC board is now implementing a strategic plan, which includes an LCHIP-funded study on the carriage house and surveying the public about needs. A spring 2017 survey revealed that 67% of respondents felt that the preservation of the building was a top priority.

Next time you're in Littleton reveling at Main Street's success, make sure to step inside the Community Center. There, revel at the house's beautiful interior woodwork and pay your respects to Littleton's fallen soldiers.

But don't mourn for the vinyl siding. 

Partners:

Littleton Community Center

Town of Littleton

Littleton Millworks

Starr Construction

JA Corey Electric

LCHIP

New properties added to National Register of Historic Places

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Correction 3/1/18: An earlier version of this blog credited Lisa Mausolf with preparing the National Register nomination for the Concord Gasholder House. Rather that credit belongs to Public Archaeology Laboratory (PAL). 

2017 Seven to Save Profile: Bartlett's St. Joseph Catholic Church

The former St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church was built in 1890 to accommodate the religious needs of Bartlett’s growing immigrant population. Bartlett, being a logging and railroad hub by the late 1800s, boasted a significant number of French Canadian, Italian and Irish families who did not identify with their Congregational and Baptist neighbors. So, this humble church was constructed under the direction of Father J. N. Plante, from Lancaster, who recognized that the 34 mile train ride to his home parish was just too far.

St. Joseph’s was the first Catholic church built in the Mt. Washington Valley and it cost the then princely sum of $2,732.28 to build. For more than 100 years, St. Joseph’s was the epicenter of Catholic life in Bartlett as well as drawing from other areas of the valley. After a regional consolidation that closed the parish in 1999, the Bartlett School District purchased the building from the Diocese with the intention of using it for expanded education space. That plan was thwarted by high costs related to the need to abate asbestos, lead paint and mold. The building then was basically used as a storage facility.

Mounting deferred maintenance costs as well as the environmental hazards ultimately led to discussions of demolition. Members of the Bartlett Historical Society (BHS), along with a group of like-minded townspeople entered the scene and ultimately convinced the school district to delay any major decisions until it could be determined if there was sufficient interest in saving the building. The society took the lead in offering to rehabilitate the building and transform it into a historical museum, headquarters for the society and a genealogical and research center. With a long-term lease from the district in place, they started a capital campaign to raise $450,000 to preserve and restore the building. In a little over a year of actual fund raising, the BHS has raised over $130,000 towards this cause.

It is anticipated that Seven to Save designation will bring added attention to preserving this important building. The BHS looks forward to giving this 127-year-old landmark new life under their stewardship. 

For more information, visit the Bartlett Historical Society website. You can also contact Phil Franklin (BHS secretary) at 603-374-5023 or phil@BartlettHistory.org or Norm Head (BHS president) at normiejoe@gmail.com or 603-986-6278.

2017 Seven to Save Profile: Lancaster's Parker J. Noyes Building

Parker J. Noyes was an enterprising pharmacist and inventor who made a name for himself and Lancaster with products like the sugar coated pill. His company was later responsible for developing the first precision food pellet for laboratory animal use. Thanks to Noyes, by the turn of the twentieth century, Lancaster was an epicenter of pharmaceutical manufacturing, allowing the company to expand and invest in its research, advertising, and Main Street presence. The company also felt strongly about the Lancaster community. During the Great Depression, the Noyes Family constructed a brick oven used to bake bread to donate to neighbors and townspeople.

Following a postwar nation-wide trend, the Parker J. Noyes Company left Main Street for Lancaster’s outskirts in the 1960s. The building was converted into mixed-use, but stayed in the hands of the Noyes Family, who continued to care for and maintain it. Today, the building is in need of rehabilitation and a plan to return its three floors to good use. Lancaster is seeing reinvestment along Main Street and the Parker J. Noyes Building is poised to complement the ongoing efforts of other developers and small business owners.

Because this imposing Italianate block forms the northern gateway into the village, its future is critical to the health of Lancaster. Main Street has lost several buildings – some from fire, others from demolition for Family Dollar. The town has since passed form-based zoning and RSA 79-E, but Seven to Save momentum for this building will be important as the current owner and town look toward their next steps.

For more information, contact Ben Gaetjens-Oleson (Lancaster town planner) at 603-788-3391 or planning@lancasternh.org

2017 Seven to Save Profile: Belmont's Gale School

Generations of Belmont residents received their schooling in the Gale School classrooms. Built in 1894 and named after Napoleon Gale, who bequeathed $10,000 to the Town, the distinctive Stick-style school sat prominently in downtown Belmont. This prominence faded over the years as the Gale School yard became home to additional school buildings: a brick high school in 1937, then a middle school in 1955, then additions to the high school in 1971. A new elementary school in 1985 and a new high school in 1997 finally ended the Gale School’s usefulness by the school district.

Since the 1980s, the school district has had conversations about what to do with this significant building, with ideas ranging from school administrative offices to a town library or affordable housing.  While taxpayers have consistently supported preserving the building, it turns out that moving a 125-ton building from a lot sandwiched between an uphill ball field and a campus of sprawling school buildings is not easy…or cheap.

The Shaker Regional School Board issued a request for proposals this summer, looking for an organization to either move the building from the site or salvage its parts. The Save Our Gale School committee (SOGS), a 501c3 organization dedicated to saving the school, submitted the sole proposal, and as of this past Tuesday's School Board meeting, received the green light to move ahead with a plan to relocate and rehabilitate this historic building. Some hurdles remain, however. SOGS must gain voters' approval at School District meeting in March, and they must raise the money to supplement the district’s $70,000 moving credit. The building must be moved by August 2018. Without these two critical pieces, the building will be lost.

Seven to Save designation comes at the perfect time. It gives the project needed credibility and public recognition, along with the support and assistance of the NH Preservation Alliance, to fundraise and solicit in-kind donations.

The project consists of two phases:

Phase One includes purchasing the lot for the Gale School, clearing and shaping that lot, constructing a driveway and pad for the building, providing water and sewer utilities and excavating and constructing a foundation  and then moving the building to that lot.  Already SOGS has Belmont-area businesses that have committed to $50,000 worth of donated services, including site work, excavation, and tree removal.  Remaining items include securing commitments for purchasing the lot and raising additional funds for moving the Gale School and constructing its new foundation.

Phase Two will involve renovation and re-purposing of the Gale School. To date, SOGS has had preliminary discussions with the Laconia Area Community Land Trust about having them take the reins after the building is successfully relocated. Other community service organizations have also expressed interest in using the Gale School. Then, once again, this unique, impressive and valued old school building can be used and appreciated and continue to contribute to its community, as it had for many generations.

For more information, visit the Save Our Gale School website. Or contact Diane Marden, SOGS president at 603-290-4143 or dmarden@belmontnh.net. 

Broadcast Journalism Project on The Gale School - Belmont NH By Nina Gordon and Megan Bailey

2017 Seven to Save Profile: Hinsdale's Hope Engine Co. No. 1 Engine House

Hinsdale – located at the very southwestern corner of New Hampshire – was once a manufacturing hub for paper, woolens, and machinery. This development along the banks of the Ashuelot River prompted the town to invest in fire fighting services by the 1850s – including the construction of the Hope Engine Company Number 1 station. This small post and beam building housed horses, hoses, and ladders that could be called upon to contain the fires that threatened mills and foundries downtown. To raise funds for their work, the Hope Engine Company hosted dances and firemen’s competitions.

The rest of the story is something with which we’re all familiar. Changing technology rendered the small engine house obsolete by the 1900s and it was eventually turned into tire storage for an adjacent automotive garage. But somehow it survived.

Enter Donna Suskawicz, who had returned to her hometown a few years ago. Over lunch one day, someone told her that this former engine house would be demolished if a plan couldn’t be developed to save it. Her friends, however, were about to leave for Florida or were too busy to save it themselves. And so, Donna developed a plan to save it. With help from the owner, Michael Foerster; neighbors; the fire department; and Catlin and Petrovik Architects, the Friends of the Hope Engine Co. No. 1 devised a plan to temporarily relocate the engine house to a different lot on Main Street until further restoration could begin in earnest.

Seven to Save designation will help increase public awareness of this historic building – a building that many people in town did not initially think was worth saving. Its faded and peeling paint, small size, and simple architecture did not lend the appearance of a typical preservation project. Some in town only wanted to save the faded sign on the front which reads, "Hope Engine Co. No. 1." Its lack of maintenance was deceiving, though. As Donna quipped at the Seven to Save announcement, "imagine how we'd all look after 150 years of little maintenance."

The plan for its new use is still in flux, but Donna hopes to see it pay tribute to the town's firefighting history. But that's putting the engine cart before the horse. First, the building must be moved and a new home for it secured on Main Street. Then, restoration on the small building can commence. 

For more information, read newspaper articles published by the Keene Sentinel and Brattleboro Reformer. Also, contact Donna Suskawicz at 603-336-5575 or zolacenter@juno.com

Seven to Save Announced: Small Town Historic Assets Need Help

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance has announced its 2017 Seven to Save list today, highlighting the danger to small towns that threaten to erase the state's sense of place and economic vitality. The list features a new group of endangered historic structures that include the first Catholic church in the Mount Washington Valley, a rare surviving timber frame fire engine house, headquarters of the pharmaceutical company that patented the sugar-coated pill, and a 1797 meetinghouse languishing after a devastating fire.  Preservation Alliance leaders emphasized that saving special places and small town character should be essential ingredients in statewide campaigns to attract investment, draw new visitors and support local businesses.

“Our small town character makes our state distinctive,” said Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the Preservation Alliance. “The mix of our old with new building stock, and character and scale of historic main street buildings, attract a varied ages of types of people, help incubate small businesses and create attachments to communities that boost economic vitality.” While endangered properties in small towns have been in prior Seven to Save lists of the 11-year old program, this year’s list is remarkable in that all the listees are in towns with populations ranging from approximately 1,300 to 7,300.

Michael Duffy of Manchester, board member of the Preservation Alliance and chair of the Seven to Save committee, noted that “deterioration, demolition and the desire for new investment are some of the threats to the historic properties on this list. Here are seven great opportunities to transform threatened resources into vibrant community assets once again.”  He noted that many of the listees are not yet well-known or understood, even in their own communities.

This year’s list, from largest to smallest town population, using most recent census information, are:

Gale SchoolBelmont After decades of discussion and reuse solutions, the final days for this 1894 stick style school are imminent unless the Shaker Regional School Board and the Save Our Gale School committee can commit to relocation and rehabilitation. The Save Our Gale School committee must now leverage its in-kind donations from local businesses and neighbors to raise funds and find a suitable site for the historic building’s next life.

Hope Engine Co. No. 1Hinsdale Built in c.1850, this post and beam engine house was slated for demolition until one woman made it her mission to relocate it and restore it. Currently, it’s prepped for relocation, but its reuse and restoration are not yet certain.

French-Taylor HouseMoultonborough This vacant town-owned Main Street house provides an important streetscape and green space for Moultonborough’s village, which has seen recent demolition. The Heritage Commission hopes to study reuse options that will highlight the building’s importance and usefulness to the town, and replace deterioration with reinvestment.

Boston and Maine freight shedCanaan  This colonial revival freight shed is one of few remaining railroad buildings along the former Northern Railroad corridor. Built in 1923-4 after a devastating downtown conflagration, this building offers excellent connectivity and reuse options, though its condition and complex ownership issues threaten the structure.

Parker J. Noyes BuildingLancaster  This Italianate mixed-use block on Main Street was originally home to a pharmaceutical company that patented the sugar-coated pill and revolutionized food pellets for laboratory animal testing. It’s now in need of a plan to increase the building’s usability in a downtown that’s seeing recent investment.

Former St. Joseph Catholic ChurchBartlett  The first Catholic Church in the Mount Washington Valley, this former church is now owned by the Bartlett School District and leased by the Bartlett Historical Society (BHS). It suffers from condition issues after years of uncertainty, but the Society has already raised $130,000 toward its eventual restoration and reuse as a museum and BHS headquarters.

Grafton Center MeetinghouseGrafton  A devastating fire damaged this 1797 meetinghouse at the head of Grafton Center’s common; a fire that also claimed the life of the resident minister. Today, the building’s immediate and substantial rehabilitation needs are hampered by a property tax dispute and lack of resources.

A special blog series offering more information on each will be coming your way next week.

The announcement was held at a Seven to Save success story – the Wolfeboro Town Hall. The Romanesque Revival Town Hall was listed to Seven to Save in 2009 when its second floor had been closed for decades and its future was very uncertain. Today, it is a once again the vibrant heart of the town after an award-winning preservation campaign led by the Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall in partnership with the Town.

Criteria for Seven to Save include the property’s historical or architectural significance, severity of the current threat, and the extent to which the Seven to Save listing would help in preserving the property. 

Preservation Alliance Field Services Representative Andrew Cushing underlined the value of the program by noting “we consider over half of the properties named to the list since 2006 out of danger and ‘saved’.” Completed rehabilitations include the Watson Academy in Epping, the Langdon Meetinghouse, and Manchester’s First High School, now Lowell Hall on the NH Institute of Art (NHIA) campus.  Strong progress is being made at others including The Colonial Theatre in Laconia and Middleton’s Old Town Hall. Seven to Save sites with uncertain futures include the Balsams in Dixville Notch, Concord’s iconic Gas Holder House, the Chandler House in Manchester, Sanborn Seminary in Kingston, and the former Brown Paper Company’s R & D building in Berlin.

Saving and reviving historic places can help address New Hampshire’s export of young talent as well. According to a recent national study of millennials nearly all (97 percent) 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 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 percent), preserving a sense of community (52 percent) and creatively re-using structures (51 percent).

Seven to Save’s sponsors for 2017 include TMS Architects, Anagnost Companies, Christopher P. WilliamsCobb Hill Construction, Inc., Dennis Mires, P.A. The ArchitectsEnviro -ToteLavasseur Electrical Contractors, Inc.Irish Electric CorporationMilestone Engineering & ConstructionNorton Asset ManagementNorth Branch ConstructionInnerglass Window SystemsFinegold Alexander ArchitectsMeredith Bohn Interior DesignMeridian ConstructionMisiaszek Turpin PLLC and SMP Architecture, Windows and Doors by Brownell