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



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

Weare Drake Store Building, Effingham

2017 Preservation Achievement Award: Effingham Preservation Society for outstanding rehabilitation of the Weare Drake Store Building

with: Rooster Productions Design/Build

For fifteen years, the Effingham Preservation Society has worked to rehabilitate the Weare Drake Store Building. The 200-year-old building, which throughout its history has served as a general store, the Carroll Literary Institute, and Effingham Grange, now serves as the home of the Effingham Preservation Society and as a community gathering space.

The Society repaired the foundation and fire escape, re-shingled the roof,  restored windows, created handicap access, added septic and water, refinished floors, updated the electrical, and improved kitchen facilities to allow expanded use while respecting the legacy of the building and its existing spaces. Like the store keepers, students, and Grangers in years past, the Effingham Preservation Society has breathed new life into the building and village. They have hosted concerts, presentations, storytelling, art shows, plant sales, and weekly bake sales with “Coffee and Conversation.”  Proceeds from these events, a timely bequest, and annual membership dues of just $5, help fund the building’s restoration.

Karen Payne, President of the Effingham Preservation Society, said that the building's rehabilitation was more than about aesthetics. "We’ve been preserving Effingham 'one slice of pie at a time' and while we were baking and sharing...and baking...we built camaraderie and community." 

The result is a building that represents layers of Effingham history and the power of a scrappy organization that believes historic resources can be used to harness the power of community. 

It's National Preservation Month

Hooray! Here are some ideas for you and your friends and neighbors to take action and celebrate preservation activity.

Now is the time to assess home and barn need and start working through your list.

Now is the time to assess home and barn need and start working through your list.

Take care of your old home. Springtime means checking for winter damage, inspecting foundations and painting! Hire a professional to do an assessments so you don't waste time or resources. Re-tune old windows to improve operations, increase energy efficiency and preserve original features of an old house. Check out our calendar regarding barn workshops and other gatherings here.

Appreciate your community. Look at the place where you live (your street, road or neighborhood) and note how many historic buildings and structures you can see. Show your kids the building where you went to school, or where you got married. Support your local farm, and thank a neighbor who has fixed up his or her barn. Are there places you can't imagine your community without? Start a conversation with other interested citizens to consider planning tools like easements and tax incentives to turn a challenge into an opportunity.

  The award-winning Langdon Meetinghouse restoration benefited from LCHIP grants.  
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The award-winning Langdon Meetinghouse restoration benefited from LCHIP grants.


Be an advocate for preserving our heritage. Express your support to state and local officials for the  Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, New Hampshire's popular and effective matching grants program for historic preservation and land conservation projects. Volunteer to serve on your local planning board, library board, cemetery commission, or downtown organization. Help with a local preservation project. Enjoy dinner in an old inn or a play or concert at a historic theater. 

Share your successes and concerns. Come to our annual awards celebration! And we want to hear from you! Keep us posted on what's happening in your community. We welcome your thoughts and ideas. Post on our Facebook page or send to Jennifer Goodman.

More from our national partners, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The People Who Make It Happen

Putting the People in Preservation

We have a propensity to remove people from photographs of buildings. Sometimes this makes sense. For instance, in survey work, the intent is to have the building speak for itself – we want to notice the cornice, not the corduroys. Folks in the Vernacular Architecture Forum (the “premier organization in North America dedicated to the appreciation and study of ordinary buildings and landscapes”) are infamous for their desire to capture buildings sans humans.

At the VAF annual conference, like last year in Durham, NC, everyone stands back and allows photographers to capture the buildings before people get in the way.

At the VAF annual conference, like last year in Durham, NC, everyone stands back and allows photographers to capture the buildings before people get in the way.

Historically, it’s difficult to find photographs of buildings without people. Families gathered in front of their house and barn, showcasing their horses, wagons, farming equipment, and pets. It is clear that the pride in the house was tied to the people who made the farm and animals operate. Photographs with humans are infinitely more interesting because those images resonate with us on an emotional and social level.

The Jerome Hoyt Farm in Grafton, with the whole family in front.Grafton Historical Society.

The Jerome Hoyt Farm in Grafton, with the whole family in front.Grafton Historical Society.

The preservation world is often maligned for caring about buildings more than we care about people. We’re the people who restrict paint colors, reject additions to historic houses, or recommend treatments that cost more money than anticipated. It can be argued that preservation tools restrict the creativity and quirkiness that was responsible for providing our current generation with the very buildings or architectural details that excite preservationists today.

I would argue that preservationists do care about people – we advocate for saving old buildings because they are often the most visceral, tangible, and sentimental connections we have to our ancestors. Houses are not just filled with layers of paint and linoleum, but saturated with memories and stories yet to be told.

Maybe we are poor marketers. We expend so much energy promoting and celebrating buildings that we forget to share the secret behind projects’ successes: the people. Every preservation project succeeds because of a dedicated band of volunteers who spend Saturdays flipping pancakes, writing grants, and priming clapboards. Money helps, but it is seldom the driving force.

The Effingham Preservation Society raised funds to restore its headquarters in the former Drake’s General Store building through pie sales, Saturday coffees, concerts, and art shows.Courtesy of the Effingham Preservation Society.

The Effingham Preservation Society raised funds to restore its headquarters in the former Drake’s General Store building through pie sales, Saturday coffees, concerts, and art shows.Courtesy of the Effingham Preservation Society.

Our New Hampshire landscape exists because generations before us dreamed of building glorious steeples and endowing ornate libraries, evenin the smallest of towns. They exist today because people care to preserve these landmarks that have come to symbolize their community’s strength and permanence.

In my journeys across New Hampshire, I meet the people who make preservation projects happen. I relish those interactions as much as my ability to see these landmarks. My job wouldn’t be much fun if these buildings stood empty with no one to greet me.

At our annual preservation achievement awards, we make sure to tell the stories of the people. We want to celebrate the town of 800 that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore their meetinghouse, the homeowners that sacrificed greater returns on investment for the sake of history, and the committees that spent decades making incremental progress on their schoolhouse.

And yes, we make sure to include photographs of the people who make it all happen.

Taking the Pulse of Preservation Trends

The Preservation Alliance, in preparing for its April 21 conference, checked in with some key observers to explore what’s trending and what’s classic.   We asked, what’s working in preservation right now, what trends do preservationists need to know about, and what areas need work? Here’s what we learned.

Preservation activity is boosted by consumer desire for authenticity and community. Throwback Brewery in North Hampton and Sweetwater Farm & Distillery in Winchester use their historic buildings to reinforce their local vibe. Concord’s pedestrian-friendly Main Street project and associated redevelopment of historic buildings has sparked a surge in new eateries, a restaurant expansion, and a new nano-brewery. Ben Wilson, director of the Bureau of Historic Sites within the N.H. Division of Parks and Recreation, reports guests are looking to experience our authentic, well-maintained rural villages and scenic landscapes. “Relocating business owners often speak to the cultural, historic and recreational resources afforded by the state,” he said. “Visitors to our state’s historic sites frequently tell our guide staff how impressed they are by the stories of our cultural past and how accessible we make it to the general public. The preservation of our historic communities and rural architecture allows our visitors to experience a cultural landscape lost to the majority of the country.”

Barn-raising-type activity also continues to flourish. Recently, a group of Andover residents got together to buy the old town hall to save it. New Hampshire communities like Tamworth are adopting the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy (PARE) model of “barn-raising,” following the tradition of neighbor helping neighbor. PARE conducts “Energy Raisers” where volunteers help residents with energy-efficient systems installations to bring down costs, and increase understanding for property owners and tradespeople.

Large landscapes and cultural areas are getting more attention.  It’s not just the buildings we’re trying to save.  The Freedom’s Way Heritage Area, which includes Nashua, Brookline, Amherst, Mason, Greenville, New Ipswich and Milford and several towns in Massachusetts, celebrates a region linked by common history, evolution and current goals. Advocates involved in large energy project reviews, such as Northern Pass, are pointing to special places like the center of Deerfield and the White Mountain landscapes that may be impacted. Both types of initiatives benefit from models like recent National Register-related work around Squam Lakes and inventory and analysis done in Harrisville and Dublin a generation ago that looked at broad historical patterns of land use to refine preservation practice and priorities.


Preserving and celebrating social history and cultural diversity is another area of emerging activity. The leaders of the new Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire envision a network snaking through nearly a dozen towns and featuring as many as 60 sites — some of which are already recognized by their town’s historical societies or the state.  JerriAnne Boggis, the new executive director, welcomes nominations and support. “The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire will work to visibly honor and expose a true, more inclusive history in our state through exhibits, programs and tours that can change the way our country understands human dignity when it is free of historical stereotypes,” Boggis said. “Given the heightening of racial tension in our country, the expansion of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail to include other towns across the state couldn’t be more timely”

Investors are mixing old business models with new tools for strong results.  Hybrids aren’t just a type of car. We’re seeing more and more historic sites looking at long-term leases to compatible users as a viable business model that enhances ability to meet their missions of educating the public, as well as preserving historic buildings and materials. Strawbery Banke Museum’s Heritage House Program is a large-scale, strong-market model of this that can be scaled for others. In New Hampshire, legislators and other policy makers are considering new or enhanced incentives to add to the toolbox to promote preservation and economic development. For example, SB 185 ties local-option tax relief to private investment in resiliency to prepare for severe storms.  Another proposal seeks to increase the tax credits available to the Community Development Finance Authority.

Dig into these topics (and many others) at the Preservation Alliance’s April 21 conference, Preserving Community Character: Critical Issues and Opportunities.