2017 Preservation Achievement Award: Manchester Historic Association for outstanding historic preservation education and outreach
Since 1896, the Manchester Historic Association has been the voice of history and story-telling in New Hampshire’s Queen City. This award recognizes their deep involvement in historic preservation activities for the last two decades and their ongoing, impactful commitment to document, educate, and advocate.
The organization conducts house tours and 5-10 annual walking tours that highlight developments within the city’s diverse neighborhoods; writes articles for the Union Leader; presents awards at the “must-attend” Historic Preservation Awards night; staffs the Millyard Museum and Association’s archive center at 129 Amherst Street; offers rotating exhibits on topics from presidential primary candidates to immigrant communities to public health; holds a preservation easement on the Frank P. Carpenter House; and advocates for the protection and appreciation of the city’s historic built environment.
Executive Director John Clayton told the audience the origins of the MHA's own awards ceremony. "I would like to tell you this annual celebration was born of progressive events relative to preservation, but in fact, it was born of destruction." In 1991, developers for the Mall of New Hampshire bulldozed the historic brick Harvey District School in the dead of night. Clayton and a friend devised a plan to shame anti-preservation activity with awards called "Dozies." Instead, they opted to reward those who exemplified best preservation practices.
But, Clayton, cautioned, "If any developers out there get any ideas about my hometown of Manchester, I still have a Dozie or two in my back pocket…"
Next projects for the MHA include helping create a Cultural District in Manchester and encouraging the city’s adoption of a demolition delay ordinance. The MHA’s insistence that history matters, and that old buildings matter, has created a richer, more vibrant, and more relevant Manchester to its residents and visitors alike.