New Hampshire

2019 Seven to Save: Glencliff Willing Workers Hall

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The Glencliff Willing Workers Hall dates to 1920 when women and their “better halves” (according to a letter from the first president!) gathered to build a social hall to further their mission of helping each other through hard times. The women knitted, quilted, cooked, and crafted to raise funds to support children, elderly, and sick residents. In the 1930s, they raised enough additional money to add a rear kitchen and bathroom addition.

 The hall became the epicenter of village life in Glencliff and surrounding towns. Regular fundraisers included card parties, dances, suppers, concerts, original plays, holiday parties, sing-alongs, bean-o games, minstrel shows, and traveling vaudeville performances. In 1921 – seventeen years before electricity came to the village – the hall was electrified for movie screenings. During the Great Depression, the hall served as a social outlet for nearby East Warren Civilian Conservation Corps workers. Several corps members volunteered to act in plays and help serve suppers.

 The first president, May Fifield, wrote that “The hall has provided a neat, cozy and attractive place of social and intellectual functions.” Today, the hall remains owned by the Willing Workers and the group continues to organize community events that benefit children and families in need.

 Unfortunately, though, the organization’s sign attached to the side of the building is more ironic than indicative of the organization’s good work. The building suffers from decades of deferred maintenance, and now faces a laundry list of work to be done, including a roof, foundation repair, exterior painting, and window repair.

 According to Deb Dickmann, the president of the Willing Workers, “We’re happy to have been determined eligible for the State and National Register.  Our fundraising efforts at this time are dedicated to raising money to restore our historical building.  In our effort to keep our building standing for the next century, we hope your recognition will provide the attention we need to succeed in our restoration.  We are extremely grateful.”

Seven to Save 2019: Stratford's Blodgett Museum

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Originally built as a Methodist Episcopal meetinghouse in 1850, this Stratford Hollow landmark started out as a typical Gothic and Greek Revival church. It was extensively renovated in 1896, with the congregation adding shingles, stained glass windows, pressed tin walls, and new pews. But, like many smaller congregations in New Hampshire, membership dwindled and the building became a burden. By 2000, the congregation voted to sell their home to the Cohos Historical Society.

The Society started off strong – the building received a new roof, steeple repair, electrical upgrades, and was listed to the State Register of Historic Places. But then that group tired and the Historical Society nearly went defunct.

A revival of sorts happened a few years ago and new members recommitted themselves to preserving this special North Country place. They built up their bank account and started annual fundraisers like Hollow-ween. The Cohos Historical Society recently had a Preservation Alliance-funded assessment done of the building, which shows immediate and mid-range necessary work totaling more than $250,000. “As one of New Hampshire’s poorest communities – and with a population of only 700 people – that number is a lot to digest. But we’re hopeful for an LCHIP grant this year to start important structural work and drainage improvements,” says president Jamie Davis. 

“Eventually, we plan to restore the stained glass windows – many of which were damaged in 1923, when a fire broke out next door to the church. After all is done, we’re excited about getting our community’s museum and gathering spot back open to the public.”

2019 Seven to Save: First Baptist Church, Lower Gilmanton

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Lower Gilmanton was Gilmanton's first village settled in 1761.  A Baptist meeting house was built in 1774 in a field adjacent to the Revolutionary War Training Grounds on what is now known as Frisky Hill.  After 67 years, this meeting house fell into disrepair. In 1842, Antipas Gilman and John Meserve, Wardens of the Baptist Society, deeded to the Church the land where the current church is located just south of the original location.

The church has been used continuously for nearly 180 years.  During this time, the church has served the community with Sunday services, hosting weddings, funerals, Christmas gatherings, and suppers. It has been described as one of the finest and most intact Greek revival churches in Belknap County and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Through the continued regular use and upkeep of the property, the Lower Gilmanton Community Club and fellow church members have become concerned about the deteriorating condition of the building.  In the summer and fall of 2018 when torrential rains started entering the auditorium, staining ceiling, walls, filling pews with water and stains on floors a member contacted Steve Bedard of Bedard Preservation & Restoration. Mr. Bedard’s observations discovered our steeple was not adequately supported and the structural integrity of our building was compromised.  The restoration project estimate came in around $180,000 and is financially beyond the scope of volunteers.  The time has come for members and volunteers to seek outside assistance. 

The Lower Gilmanton Community Club, used the knowledge learned from the much smaller 2016 Kelley Corner Schoolhouse project, applied for and received an assessment grant from the NH Preservation Alliance.  This grant allowed us to retain Steve Bedard for a Building Assessment.  The group has applied for a 2019 LCHIP grant and are making a plan for restoration and a capital campaign.

Says Paula Gilman (a 7th generation Gilmanton resident), “Next year, we are hopeful to start the restoration project.  Some of this work has been needed for nearly 100 years.”

Seven to Save 2019: Chesterfield's Marsh House

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Chesterfield is a predominantly agricultural town, with a distinct set of buildings on the common, mostly built of locally-quarried stone. But there’s also this Carpenter Gothic Cottage built in 1850 by the Marsh Family. The house, with its polychromatic slate roof, deep roof eaves, bargeboard, and wrap-around porch is practically out of a 19th century pattern book.

From the late 1970s until 2007, the house served as the town offices. A few years ago, a group in town tried to find a creative way to get new life in it. They put up a big sign on the front that read, “Own this building - $1.00!” The deal came with strings to ensure the building would be properly preserved. This got a lot of attention, but the sole response unfortunately fell through. Community surveys show that people in town want a gathering space – our village has a post office, school, and library, but there’s no place to get sandwiches or coffee.  

“And so we’re hoping that this designation ignites us to further try and save this treasure and add vibrancy to our village. We are looking at continuing to sell it, or lease it to a private or nonprofit entity that would restore and repurpose it. The alternative is the recurring vote at town meeting to spend $30,000 to demolish it,” says Jeff Scott and Barbara Girs, who represented the house at the Seven to Save event.

Saving historic buildings “one slice of pie at a time”: 2017 Preservation Achievement Awards Announced

“I feel like my biggest accomplishment tonight is finding clothes without paint splatter,” joked Canterbury Shaker Village’s David Ford from the stage as he accepted an award for outstanding rehabilitation of the Shaker Trustees’ Office. The Trustees’ Office, along with a dozen other projects, was honored Tuesday night at the 28th Annual Preservation Achievement Awards in Concord.

The awardees varied in scale and geography, but all shared underlying similarities. According to the Preservation Alliance’s executive director Jennifer Goodman, that common thread is “high-quality investments that benefit residents and visitors, and catalyze additional community development activities.”

“The projects are all very complex,” she added, and “tenacity and creativity are also ingredients in all.”

The Effingham Preservation Society, which won an award for their fifteen-year long rehabilitation of the Weare Drake Store Building, relied on literal ingredients to fund their project. Karen Payne, president of the Effingham Preservation Society, summed up her group's secret to success: "We did it one slice of pie at a time," adding, "While we were baking and sharing...and baking...we built camaraderie and community."

Special guests and past award winners Executive Councilor Joseph Kenney, Senator Martha Fuller Clark and dairy specialist and barn preservation advocate John Porter helped introduce the awards. “We welcome this opportunity to recognize outstanding projects and while hopefully inspiring others,” said Goodman.   “These are the kinds of places we can’t imagine New Hampshire without and we want to recognize the people who have worked to save and revive these landmarks.” 

Every awarded group breathes new life into their community through educational initiatives, rehabilitation of iconic buildings, or timely rescue of irreplaceable assets. This year’s group included work done by nonprofits, municipalities, the State of New Hampshire, and the business sector.

“I’m glad I’m not the only for-profit party up here, but I can tell you, at times my project felt a lot like a nonprofit,” Karen Bouffard quipped about her rehabilitation of 100-2 State Street in Portsmouth.

The night was filled with meaningful remarks that highlighted why old buildings matter – a timely topic for Preservation Month. David Adams, also of Portsmouth, received an award for his decades-long commitment to preservation carpentry. Describing a job he was on many years ago, Adams recalled a moment when his friend encouraged him to slip his hand into a groove behind a plaster medallion’s wreath of fruit. “I could feel my fingers sliding into the little sockets that were made by the men that pushed that piece of plaster fruit up into that bit of ornament, and his fingerprints were still there and I felt for a moment as if I were reaching through time and shaking his hand. That does it for me."

Besides motivated individuals, successful projects received help from state and national incentives. Investments by the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) funded work in five of the projects this year. Support from the Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA), the downtown revitalization tax incentive (RSA 79-E), and federal historic preservation tax credits were instrumental in others. The winner of the Elizabeth Durfee Hengen Award this year – the Lane Homestead in Stratham – benefitted from being listed to the Alliance’s Seven to Save.

Generous awards program sponsors include Sheehan Phinney, AECm, LLC, Artistic Tile, LLC, The Common Man Family of Restaurants, LavalleeBresinger Architects, Meredith Bohn Interior Design, Milestone Engineering & Construction, Inc., Selectwood and Christopher P. Williams Architects, PLLC.

The awarded projects join dozens of past recipients. This year's winners are:

Effingham Preservation Society for rehabilitation of the Weare Drake Store Building

Canterbury Shaker Village for outstanding rehabilitation of the Trustees’ Office

Northwood Congregational Church for restoration and rehabilitation of its landmark building

State of New Hampshire for restoration of the State House Dome

Jeff and Sarah Barrette for the revitalization of the Monadnock Mills Boarding House/Store House #5 for the Ink Factory Clothing Co.

Karen Bouffard for the rehabilitation of 100-2 State Street, Portsmouth

City of Concord for rehabilitation and revitalization of Concord’s Main Street

David Adams for outstanding contributions to the field of historic preservation

Manchester Historic Association for outstanding historic preservation education and outreach

Town of Stratham for its preservation of the Lane Homestead

Certificates of Merit were awarded to:

Town of Hillsborough and the Trustees of the Fuller Public Library for the rehabilitation of the Fuller Public Library/ John Butler Smith House

Windham Presbyterian Church for restoration of its bell tower

Hampton Town Clock Committee for the rescue and restoration of the Hampton Town Clock