LCHIP Grants Millions to Preservation Projects

Today, the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) granted nearly $4 million in matching dollars to land conservation and historic preservation projects across the state.

Of the 26 historic resources and 16 natural resources receiving grant money, five are Seven to Save properties, one received a $500 mini grant/planning study from us, one received a barn grant assessment, and eight received planning studies through our conditions assessment block grant (also funded by LCHIP, and also to be funded in 2019). We also coached seven successful projects through our field service program.

Planning Studies

This year, six properties received planning study grants from LCHIP. These grants allow for in-depth examinations of buildings, including mechanical systems, structural analyses, and condition assessments. Recipients include Chesterfield Historical Society’s Stone House Tavern, Great North Woods Committee for the Arts’ Former Shrine of Our Lady of Grace in Columbia, Fitwilliam Town Hall, Langdon Congregational Church, Tilton School Library/Mansion, and the NH Preservation Alliance (to redistribute as block grants for smaller assessments).

Of these, the Preservation Alliance was happy to assist in Chesterfield, Columbia, and Langdon.

Seven to Saves

Belmont’s Gale School (2017) will receive a $110,000 grant to help relocate the historic 1894 school threatened with demolition. 2018 listee, Turning Mill Pond at Canterbury Shaker Village, received a $97,339 grant to help repair a dam located within the cultural landscape of the National Historic Landmark district. Kimball-Jenkins Estate in Concord (2013 Seven to Save) will restore the mansion, with help from a $202,000 grant. In Alstead, Chase’s Mill received a second grant, this time for $150,000 to repair the exterior envelope of the building, including windows.

On the Natural Resource side, family farms (2014 Seven to Save) were represented by Farmington’s Scruton Dairy Farm - a fifth generation dairy farm that also received a barn assessment grant from the Alliance in 2015.

Planning Studies Yield Success Stories

Eight projects that received earlier planning studies through the NH Preservation Alliance will now see rehabilitation.

Those include Alstead’s Chase’s Mill; Farmington First Congregational Church (storm windows); Goshen Grange Hall (rehabilitation into town and SAU office space); Centennial Hall in North Hampton (rehabilitation of 2nd floor space); Plymouth’s Old Webster Court House (windows and basement improvements); Portsmouth Women’s Club (installation of sprinkler system); St. Matthew’s Chapel in Sugar Hill (foundation construction); and Whitcomb Hall in Swanzey (2nd floor rehabilitation).

Congratulations also to the following projects: Charlestown’s Silsby Free Library, Ladd-Gilman House in Exeter, Keene’s Ball Mansion (home of the Cheshire County Historical Society), Lebanon’s Kendrick-Wood House (home to the Upper Valley Music Center), Milton Free Library, Ingalls Memorial Library in Rindge, Rochester Opera House, and the Wolfeboro Freight Shed.

Since its incorporation in 2000, LCHIP has awarded over $43 million and protected over 257 historic buildings and conserved over 280,000 acres of land in a total of 157 communities. This investment - which now comes from a deed surcharge at the county level - has leveraged nearly $300 million in the program’s history.

The next LCHIP grant round opens in May 2019. If you are interested in creating a successful preservation project (that may or may not include LCHIP funding), please reach out to Andrew Cushing at the Preservation Alliance (ac@nhpreservation.org or 224-2281).

Laconia State School: Seven to Save Profile

The New Hampshire School for Feeble-Minded Children opened in 1903 and, from the outset, the School was a source of pride for Laconia. Its 247-acre campus set on a rise between Lake Winnisquam and Opechee Bay and was designed to be curative in nature. Here, children between the ages of three and twenty-one who could not get the care they needed at existing facilities (county poor farms or state hospitals, for example) could learn skills in an environment tailored for their needs.

Early on, there were two school sessions daily, where pupils were “given instruction in industrial work” – the girls made “raffia work, basketry, rugs and knitted items” and worked in the sewing rooms, while “the boys work[ed] on the farm and in the manual training shop.” The dairy herd was recognized as one of the finest in the state, and milk was processed at the Weeks Dairy in Laconia.

 Boys digging for a cement wall at the Laconia State School. Courtesy photograph.

Boys digging for a cement wall at the Laconia State School. Courtesy photograph.

By August 1916, there were nearly 300 pupils on site with a large waiting list. The campus continued to grow to meet the increased need, but overcrowded conditions worsened through the Great Depression. (In 1924, the campus was renamed the Laconia State School.) By 1942, the population had increased to 600, and by 1974 over 1,000 residents called the Laconia State School home. Calls to increase funding were rejected by the state legislature until a successful lawsuit in 1978 forced the state to reduce the numbers of residents, increase staffing, renovate several buildings, and develop community-based mental health initiatives.

The institution was finally closed in 1991, leaving most of the historic brick buildings vacant. A state-sponsored redevelopment plan is currently underway and is charged with finding a solution that meets local and state goals. This plan is complicated by the site’s cultural and architectural history. For many New Hampshirites, the site represents a painful time in families’ pasts - stories that were chronicled in the documentary, “Lost in Laconia.”

The Laconia State School campus was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Its campus of 20th century buildings, barns, stone walls, mature trees, and panoramic views make the site architecturally significant. Its history of institutionalizing children within this campus - regardless of the intended benevolence - makes the site equally significant. We should not erase histories that make us uncomfortable.

 The agricultural history and opportunity is an important consideration in the site’s reuse. Photo courtesy of Cristina Ashjian.

The agricultural history and opportunity is an important consideration in the site’s reuse. Photo courtesy of Cristina Ashjian.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission’s website includes minutes of past meetings and planning documents. If you have thoughts about how this site should best be used to meet the needs of the State, Laconia, and those who lived or worked there, contact them.

The master planning is ongoing, but it’s best to participate sooner, rather than later.

Our thanks to historian, Gordon DuBois, for his history on the Laconia State School, and to Cristina Ashjian, for her photographs.

Manchester VA's Manager's Residence: Seven to Save Profile

After WWII, sixteen million veterans suddenly needed medical treatment and care. In response, the U.S. government built fifty-six new hospitals. New Hampshire had lobbied for a VA hospital since 1938, and it was finally granted in 1945. Construction started in Manchester in 1948, with a grand opening in June 1950.

In addition to the eight-story main hospital, the $5 million complex included twelve ancillary buildings set on a thirty acre campus designed by Boston landscape architecture firm, Shurcliff and Shurcliff. It was recently announced that six of these brick ancillary buildings - all designed in a modern Prairie style - would be demolished to make way for new construction and expanded parking.

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Because the site was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, and because it’s federal property, such action triggered the Section 106 process. The Manchester Heritage Commission and the N.H. Division of Historical Resources got involved and proposed a compromise: demolish five buildings, but keep Building #2 (known as the Manager’s Residence).

This house, stylistically unique in Manchester and the state, was originally built to house the hospital’s first chief administrator, Dr. George Pratt. Its horizontality - emphasized in its belt courses, low pitched roof, rectilinear chimney - and its cantilevered porch roof should conjure up another Manchester icon. The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House was also built in 1950 and included many quintessential Wrightian Prairie style elements.

Preservationists in Manchester (and beyond!) are hoping that the VA administration will see the value of the Manager’s Residence and also the potential for its reuse as outpatient services. According to Aurore Eaton, of the Manchester Heritage Commission, “We hope that Seven to Save status will emphasize the importance of this building’s architecture, history, and potential for veterans care.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Time is of the essence if we’re to help save this building. Contact NH’s delegation and let them know this piece of history matters more than parking spaces for several cars:

Senator Maggie Hassan’s person of contact is William Bateson, who can be reached by phone at (603) 880-3314 or by mail at 142 Main Street, Suite 520, Nashua, NH 03060.

For Senator Jeanne Shaheen, contact Christopher Scott at (603) 647-7500, or by mail at 2 Wall Street - Suite 200, Manchester, NH  03101.

For Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster, contact Melanie Spears, VA & Military Outreach at (603) 226-1002 or by mail at 18 North Main Street - 4th Floor, Concord, NH 03301.

For Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, contact the Dover office at (603) 285-4300 or mail to 660 Central Ave., Unit 101, Dover, NH 03820.

You can also contact Andrew Cushing at the NH Preservation Alliance with more questions.

Lee Parish House: Seven to Save Profile

When the Town of Lee purchased the land in between the town office complex and the Lee Church Congregational (not the Lee Congregational Church) in 2018, both parties had reason to celebrate. The town needed room to expand and the church did not need the property, but welcomed the money.

The problem: not everyone in town wanted the parish house that came with the land.

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This “comfortable parsonage and outbuilding” was built in 1872 at a cost of $1,523.81, according to church records. The Italianate vernacular dwelling was not ostentatious, but it did include large rooms and a front entrance with etched glass double doors and a small bracketed porch roof. Compared to the much earlier houses in Lee’s village, the parish house was modern.

The parish house served as the minister’s house until tastes changed and it made more sense to rent the house. By 2018, though, the building had sat vacant for several years and the church and town started negotiations to transfer the property.

The 2018 town meeting warrant article called for the parish house to be removed from site by July 2019, allowing for the town to start with a clean slate. The Lee Historical Society and Lee Heritage Commission are instead hoping to re-purpose the building on site and retain its presence in the village. This solution, they argue, is cheaper and more sympathetic to a village that has undergone master planning for close to a decade.

The Town of Lee is not new to preservation. Recently, several buildings on the town-owned land next door were added to the State Register of Historic Places, including the 1846 Town Hall, 1915 tool shed with tramp room, and 1874 historical society building (former South Lee freight house). Also on site is the former 1897 schoolhouse-turned library. The village also received a Plan NH charrette in 2009, which yielded public feedback like “preserve the historical buildings,” “maintain architectural integrity of the village,” and “blend the church and parsonage into the village concept.”

The challenge is to convince town leaders and community members that preserving the parish house is in the best interest for everyone. Ideas for the building’s new life include expanded space for the Lee Historical Society or incorporating it into the need for town offices.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

If you live in Lee, consider supporting the alternative solutions for the parish house. Get in touch with the Board of Selectmen and offer your assistance to the Heritage Commission or Historical Society.

Ruggles Mine: Seven to Save Profile

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It’s an unusual real estate offer: an open pit mine located on over 200 acres.

Ruggles Mine, in Grafton, is purported to be America’s oldest mica, feldspar, and beryl mine. Founded in 1803 by Boston investor Samuel Ruggles, reports of mica mining on site date to the 1770s. Its fitting setting atop Isinglass Mountain, along with its man-made arches and caves, made it a unique tourist attraction starting in the 1960s until it closed in 2015. (The mine itself closed in the 1950s.)

A group of Grafton residents hopes to convince the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation to purchase the property and add it to the roster of state recreational sites. The mine’s name recognition, wildlife habitat, and strategic location in the Quabbin-to-Cardigan conservation initiative make it a good candidate, they argue.

In addition, the town needs the boost. “Grafton is one of the state’s poorest towns,” said Deb Clough, who spoke on behalf of Ruggles at the announcement event in Washington, NH on Tuesday, October 16. (Clough pulled out her faded Ruggles Mine tee shirt for the event.) Re-opening the mine would not only bring traffic through town, but it would also continue to expose generations to the site’s ecology, geology, and history.

“My hope is that NH youth who visit the mine will not only take pride in having such a gem in their state but also inspired to make positive productive change in how they treat their environment and pass along that spirit to others,” wishes Cheryl Senter, a part-time Grafton resident and park proponent.

NH State Parks is looking into the feasibility of such a purchase. After studying the site and holding public meetings, the state and current owner will need to agree on a price not to exceed the property’s assessed valuation.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The simplest way to help is to sign the online petition here.

You can also reach out to your State Representative and voice your support for the historic site to become a state park.

For more information, contact the Preservation Alliance or reach out to the State Parks.

Canterbury Shaker Village Turning Mill Pond: Seven to Save Profile

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“Sometimes our greatest assets are liquid,” quipped Canterbury Shaker Village’s Maggie Stier the night of the Seven to Save announcement. And, in the case of Canterbury Shaker Village’s Turning Mill Pond, a “liquid” asset is in danger of being no more.

 Map showing the waterways built by the Canterbury Shakers. From “The Shaker Mills in Canterbury, New Hampshire,” by David R. Starbuck (1986).

Map showing the waterways built by the Canterbury Shakers. From “The Shaker Mills in Canterbury, New Hampshire,” by David R. Starbuck (1986).

Turning Mill Pond is one of a series of manmade bodies of water created by the industrious Canterbury Shakers to provide enough water power for their mills. At their peak, the Shakers had built nine dams and reservoirs to power fourteen mills – all in an area that was bereft of natural waterways.

The Shakers built Turning Mill Pond Dam in 1817 to power a large mill in which they manufactured lathe-turned wooden components such as chair parts, stairway balusters, handles, and their famous flat brooms.  The latter represented an improvement over the common round broom of the era and were in heavy demand; by 1860, the turning mill annually produced 43,500 flat broom handles.  Water-powered lathes also turned or smoothed the Shakers’ cooperage, including their superior and widely purchased wooden pails and tubs. 

Though none of the mills remain, the remnants of this Shaker history play an important role in interpreting a cultural landscape that is one of New Hampshire’s twenty-three National Historic Landmarks.

The original 1817 stone dam at Turning Mill Pond was breached in 1980. In response, and in an attempt to save the original structure, an earthen dam was built behind it in 1987. In 2010, this earthen dam was also breached. The Department of Environmental Services Dam Bureau directed Canterbury Shaker Village to either repair the earthen dam for $200,000 or drain the pond and erase an important piece of the Village’s cultural landscape.

A drained pond would result in loss of wildlife habitat, the water supply for the East Canterbury fire district, and– critically – the source of the Shaker Village’s sprinkler and hydrant system.

With a pending LCHIP grant and a warrant article proposed for the 2019 town meeting, this Seven to Save faces a tight timeline in which to rally support and raise the funds necessary to preserve this important piece of Shaker heritage.

For more information, contact Susan Bennett, Canterbury Shaker Village Executive Director at (603) 783-9077 x 201

Rochester Fairgrounds, Exhibition Barn: Seven to Save Profile

There’s nothing like a good fair. Think about it: within just steps are behemoth pumpkins, deep fried Oreos, prized quilt displays, spinning tea cups, tractor salesmen, horse pulling competitions, and school bus demolition derbies.

Though fairs are generally only open for a week (which is about as long as the arteries can handle deep fried Oreos), they pack a lot of punch. These landscapes hold special places in our New Hampshire hearts - and the Rochester Fairgrounds is no exception.

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The Rochester Agricultural and Mechanical Association has hosted the Rochester Fair since 1874. In 1879, the Association purchased the land known as Cold Spring Park and built three exhibition barns in 1883. Over time, these Victorian-influenced barns were conjoined to create a space measuring over 60,000 square feet.

 The Rochester Fairgrounds sits on a 56-acre parcel of land near downtown.

The Rochester Fairgrounds sits on a 56-acre parcel of land near downtown.

In 2017, the Association made the difficult decision to cancel the fair. The indebted board struggled to keep the fair profitable after decades of declining attendance and mounting capital improvement needs. The barns alone required over $50,000 in life and fire safety upgrades. Combined with the perennial cost of electricity, property taxes, and insurance, the ten-day fair model was not feasible. (Rochester residents have expressed concern about increasing the number of events on site due to the fairgrounds’ downtown location and the traffic generated by events.)

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Fortunately, the fair re-opened in September 2018, to the delight of fair-goers. Nevertheless, many of the Fairgrounds’ buildings need investment, including the exhibition barns, which, along with the grand stand, are easily the best examples of fairgrounds architecture in the state.

The Preservation Alliance will be working with the Association to explore tools that will help keep the Fair going strong. These options include listing the building to the State Register of Historic Places, pursuing planning grants and LCHIP funding, enrolling in the barn tax incentive program (RSA 79-D), installing solar panels to reduce electricity costs, and diversifying annual income.

For more information about how you can help, contact the Rochester Fairgrounds Association, or reach out to the Preservation Alliance.

Haverhill's Wentworth-Brown House: Seven to Save Profile

 Wentworth-Brown House, Haverhill.

Wentworth-Brown House, Haverhill.

What happens to big old houses in weaker real estate markets?

This question is all too familiar in Haverhill Corner, a National Register Historic District that sits on a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River, about 40 minutes north of Hanover. The district’s mostly Federal houses encircle two large commons, creating one of New Hampshire’s handsomest villages.

The very things that made Haverhill Corner prosper in the early 19th century - the Coos Turnpike, the seat of Grafton County, Haverhill Academy - had relocated by the 20th century, however. Decades of deferred maintenance left one of the common’s anchor buildings - the Wentworth-Brown House - in danger. The property’s large size (it’s a combination of a 1790s Georgian and 1805 Federal house and two barns, measuring nearly 200 feet in length) and laundry list of needed work deterred most buyers when the property went up for sale.

 Alumni Hall underwent extensive restoration in the early 2000s and now serves as a vibrant arts and entertainment center.

Alumni Hall underwent extensive restoration in the early 2000s and now serves as a vibrant arts and entertainment center.

Enter Haverhill Heritage, Inc. (HHI), a nonprofit responsible for converting nearby Alumni Hall into an active arts center in 2005. The group recognized the importance of the large old house and feared that it would not fare well in the traditional real estate market. A generous donor stepped in to purchase and hold the property while HHI raised the funds to purchase and rehabilitate it.

HHI applied for a conditions assessment through the NH Preservation Alliance, which outlined urgent work that needed to be done on the property. With that report in hand, the group then applied for LCHIP funding to both purchase the house and repair the roof and sills. In November 2017, LCHIP awarded HHI $150,000 - the first use of LCHIP funds to purchase a historic resource in the program’s history (more commonly, LCHIP funds are used to purchase land or rehabilitate historic buildings).

In addition to the assessment grant, HHI also received $31,375 in tax credit funds from the Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA). This money will pay for a study outlining potential reuse strategies for the Wentworth-Brown house.

When complete, HHI’s initiative will serve as a model for other rural communities that wish to start catalytic projects in markets that have yet to attract enough private money.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Despite HHI’s grant awards to date, the group must raise over $100,000 to match the LCHIP funding and get urgent repairs started. Otherwise, the Wentworth-Brown house risks going back on the market.

HHI also needs more businesses to purchase their tax credits. For more information, please contact Executive Director, Keisha Luce, at (603) 989-5500 or info@alumnihall.org.

You can also read more about the story thanks to this Valley News article.