2017 Preservation Achievement Award:Town of Stratham for its outstanding preservation of the Lane Homestead
with: Stratham Heritage Commission, LCHIP, Greg Pruitt and Lionel Loveless
When Stratham’s historic Lane Homestead went up for sale in 2015 and a development proposal called for demolishing much of the complex, the Town of Stratham and its Heritage Commission rallied support for the site’s protection. According to Becky Mitchell, of the Stratham Heritage Commission, "When the Lane Homestead was threatened with a disastrous redevelopment plan I was telling a woman in town about the situation. I hadn’t even finished speaking when she blurted out 'No! That place belongs to us!'”
The five acre property stands at a gateway to town and holds a rich history: the Lane Family chronicled their everyday life there between 1741 and 1810 in an unparalleled series of diaries now held at the NH Historical Society. This rich connection between people and place convinced Mitchell and others that this "historian's dream" could not be lost. "We could not let down the generations of Lane descendants who kept this place for over 200 years...we could not let down future generations who will learn from and enjoy this treasure in our midst," said Mitchell.
Still standing on the property are the Jabez Lane House (1807), Samuel Lane’s shoemaker’s shop (1742), the Corn House (1769) and a mid-nineteenth century barn. Borrowing a model from the land conservation community, the Town worked with the seller, buyer, and the NH Preservation Alliance to purchase a preservation easement for this landmark property with generous funding approved by town voters and a grant from LCHIP.
The Stratham Heritage Commission built awareness of the property’s significance and understanding of the preservation easement concept through robust communications and programming that included historians, preservation professionals, citizen engagement, and involvement of Lane descendants. This Seven to Save listee is forever protected thanks to the tenacity and commitment of the town, and the Preservation Alliance and many others are so pleased that Greg Pruitt and Lionel Loveless continue to steward this property that is so important to the heritage of the state and of Stratham.
Mitchell, who accepted the award on behalf of the Heritage Commission and Town, thanked her partners for making this project happen. "When the 2016 Town Meeting voted to purchase the preservation easement that forever protects the Lane Homestead there was a palpable sense of relief and pride," Mitchell remembered. "So it is wonderful that we can all share in this award and celebrate a mission accomplished and a promise kept."
For their hard work and innovative approach to saving a landmark property, the Preservation Alliance gave Stratham the Elizabeth Durfee Hengen Award. This special recognition is for projects that demonstrate excellence in preservation planning, education and advocacy.