Edith Celley (1927-2017) Leaves Preservation Legacy in Haverhill, NH and Statewide


Edith Celley has left quite a legacy in Haverhill, NH and for our preservation community – in revived buildings, as a model of effective leadership, and with good plans still in progress.

She was born in Haverhill, and was valedictorian of her high school class in 1945.  After an early career with the US Army, she returned to Haverhill to care for her mother. She was then employed as a New Hampshire State Probation-Parole Officer, retiring in 1987. After a brief retirement she served for ten years with Grafton County Senior Citizen’s Council, first as Volunteer Coordinator, then as Director of Grafton County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. Under her leadership this program was expanded to serve three nearby Vermont towns and became RSVP of the Upper Valley and White Mountains.

She served as Trustee of Haverhill Congregational Church, Haverhill Library Association, Atkinson House, and Haverhill Historical Society, was a member of the Haverhill Area Senior Services Advisory Council, the board of Grafton County Senior Citizens Council, and the Heritage Commission for the Town of Haverhill.

She devoted her retirement to Haverhill Heritage, Inc. (HHI) a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and reuse of three abandoned school buildings in the Haverhill Corner National Register Historic District and to the preservation of any other threatened property in the Historic District. She served 11 years as president and received awards for her volunteer service from The Laconia Savings Bank, the Woodsville-Wells River Rotary and was named Citizen of the Year for 2012 by the Cohase Chamber of Commerce.

Under her leadership Alumni Hall, a 19th century Grafton County Court House and 20th century Haverhill Academy gymnasium and auditorium, was the first of the buildings to be rehabilitated and now serves the region as Court Street Arts at Alumni Hall. Photo below shows Edith leading discussion at a 2012 Preservation Alliance event there. This preservation and revitalization project won an award from the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance and was also selected in 2011 by that organization as one of New Hampshire’s 25 Milestone Projects of the last quarter-century.  Photo below shows Edith leading discussion at a 2012 Preservation Alliance event there.

During her tenure as president of HHI work was started on the other two 19th century school buildings. Haverhill Academy was sold and became a private residence. Pearson Hall, the original 1816 Haverhill Academy, was given to Haverhill Historical Society to preserve as their history museum.

After another brief period of full retirement in 2011, Edith assumed the Presidency of Haverhill Historical Society as preservation and revitalization work on Pearson Hall was well underway. She successfully nominated Pearson Hall for the NH Preservation Alliance’s list of Seven to Save in 2011 and continued working to complete this effort and fully develop its reuse as a heritage center, reference library and educational facility.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Alumni Hall, 75, Court Street, in Haverhill Corner on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, at 2 p.m., with a social gathering following the service.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Haverhill Heritage, Inc., dba Alumni Hall, PO Box 125, Haverhill, NH 03765.

For more information or to offer an online condolence, please visit www.rickerfh.com.