Old House

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.

Winning and the Old House and Barn Expo

Everyone who attends the Old House and Barn Expo is a winner, right? Because you gain information, contacts and inspiration.  The gathering is also a special chance to meet New Hampshire authors and advisors on preservation and place, passionate craftspeople, and like-minded folks.

Check out these other Expo-only opportunities to win big for old house and barn owners and enthusiasts

Bid on custom kitchen cabinetry (photo below) valued at approximately $17,000, generously donated by long-time Preservation Alliance sponsor and supporter Vintage Kitchens. On display at the Expo. All bidders will need to exceed a $1,500 minimum.  More information here

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Also, take a chance to win a small timber frame constructed by members of the Timber Framers Guild during the show. We’ve heard from past Expo timber frame winners that they are enjoying them as a sugar shack (photo below), a back yard get-away that features a hot tub, and (more routinely) as utility sheds. Tickets will be sold at the Expo for $5/each or 5 for $20. 

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You can also bid on a set of old handhewn beams, mostly hemlock, from an old post and beam house that was torn down after a fire.  Some of the timbers have some notching, also some holes with pegs.  Email projects@nhpreservation.org if you want specs or other questions answered before the Expo. Donated by a member of the Preservation Alliance.

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The announcement of these winners will be Sunday, March 25 afternoon at the Expo. You need not be present to win.

All Expo attendees will also be entered to win door prizes of memberships, books and other preservation-related items.  Scavenger hunt participants will also be eligible for small prizes.

All proceeds support the work of the NH Preservation Alliance.

Behind the Scenes at the Expo: Some of our Sponsors

The N.H. Preservation Alliance's generous sponsors help make the Old House & Barn Expo, and preservation work across the state, possible. Here are four:

Antique Homes Magazine: Connections and Advice for Old House and Barn Buyers, Sellers and Stewards

This magazine and web-site help you find historic properties for sale, and offer a product and service directory, articles related to historic preservation, and an on-line guide to historic architectural styles. Serving New England since 1995. “The Old House & Barn Expo provides a terrific forum to meet up with other old house owners, admire their old house “baby” pictures, and to learn from skilled craftsmen and building professionals sympathetic to the uniqueness of these buildings,” said Ginger Petraglia.  “The upbeat, “can-do” attitude of the NH Preservation Alliance serves a cross generational population who value what came before and strive to make possible an enduring legacy.” You can follow their posts on Facebook, and visit their booth at the Expo.  Antiques Home Magazine

Bedard Preservation & Restoration: Old House, Barn and Historic Building Repair, Rehab and Restoration   

This Gilmanton, NH-based company offers over 40 years of experience with buildings dating from 1685 through 1930.  Services include initial project evaluation, structural work, interior/exterior detail work as well as coordination with subcontractor. “Our common sense approach translates into a project that runs smoothly and is cost effective,” said Steve Bedard.  Visit their booth at the Expo and attend Bedard’s two-part sessions Saturday, March 24 at noon (assessing buildings) and 2 p.m. (adding 21st century comfort and convenience). Bedard Preservation & Restoration

Preservation Timber Framing: Analysis and Repair of Timber Framed Structures

 This team of highly talented craftsmen is dedicated to the preservation of historic buildings, specializing in the structural repair of timber framed structures. Their resume includes work on old houses and barns as well as small- and large-scale, award-winning church and meetinghouse projects. “The Expo is the icing on the cake that is the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance,” Arron Sturgis said.   “It is a celebration of preservation and an affirmation of the important and critical work the Alliance does in this state.” Preservation Timber Framing

 

New Hampshire Home: Sharing Stories, Advice and Inspiration

Showcases the work of talented architects, interior and garden designers, artists, craftsmen and others whose work makes New Hampshire homes unique places in which to live.  “As someone who lives in an old home and writes about old homes, I always look forward to the Old House and Barn Expo," said Andi Axman, editor of the magazine New Hampshire Home. “It’s a great place to learn more about what we can do to preserve these treasures and meet others who love them, too.” New Hampshire Home

Additional profiles will be posted before the Expo. More on our sponsors and the Expo here

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Conversation with Tom McLaughlin

Old House and Barn Expo Preview: Conversation with Tom McLaughlin, host of popular TV show Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking

Visit with the new host of NHPBS’ popular TV show Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking, at the N.H. Preservation Alliance’s Old House & Barn Expo. Tom McLaughlin is a longtime woodworker and teacher and a member of the New Hampshire Furniture Masters. At the Expo, he will be working with hand tools and available for conversation on Saturday, March 24 between 1-5 p.m.

In advance of the Expo, the Preservation Alliance team asked Tom a few questions about his New Hampshire connections, myths about crafts and current trends before the event.

The new season of  Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking  with Tom McLaughlin starts April 7th at 4:30 pm on New Hampshire PBS. Come see him in person at the Expo! Photo: NHPBS

The new season of Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking with Tom McLaughlin starts April 7th at 4:30 pm on New Hampshire PBS. Come see him in person at the Expo! Photo: NHPBS

What’s it like living and working in Canterbury, New Hampshire?

When I first looked at Canterbury as a potential place to live twenty years ago, I had no idea how much creative vitality was hiding behind the old stone walls of these rolling hills...I love living here! There are so many gifted independent creative entrepreneurs in town, it just feels normal to walk out to my workshop behind my home each morning.

My most influential friendship and professional associate in town is two-term NH artist laureate, David Lamb. We have shared so many design challenges and inspirations over the years, and I have benefited so much from being his kindred spirit, furniture making neighbor and friend. David was also instrumental in introducing me to the then newly formed NH Furniture Masters Association when first moving to town in 1997 with my wife Kris and three children under four years of age. Being a member, and former chairman, of the NH Furniture Masters stretched my skill levels and creative borders beyond my wildest imagination.

And Dave Emerson, another long-time woodworker and Canterbury resident, invited me to teach furniture making classes at the Shaker Village in the summer of 1998, which turned out to be the beginning of discovering my love for “passing on the craft.” Three years later we built a new shop behind our house, which turned into hosting woodworking classes, later forming Epicwoodworking.com, and led to currently hosting a national PBS woodworking show.

We think the Old House and Barn Expo offers rare connections for old home owners and craft enthusiasts to interact with craftspeople and each other. Why do you think this is important?

Most gifted craftspeople keep a low profile. It only takes a few private commissions to tie up their time and keep them hunkered down in their shops, out of sight and mind of the clients and connections that may be the best fit.

So getting out to craft shows like the Old House and Barn Expo are key to making connections. Not to mention the inspiration and encouragement gained from getting to know other craftspeople who may be in a related or similar craft.

What do you see as positive or negative trends related to the craft, preservation or old building world?

With emergence of the Information Age, the world of fine craft “how to” techniques is as simple as searching YouTube or some other craft related search engine. At the same time, CNC methods and the 3D printing industries are growing rapidly, threatening to marginalize many handcraft and old world techniques.

It is likely the best of the old world crafts and finer hand techniques will increasingly be carried on and proliferated by serious hobbyists, the availability of solid teaching, and information online. This is why I feel committed to sharing and “passing on the craft” in the most effective ways possible.