Lessons from our 2019 Preservation Conference

What a gathering! The conference offered great opportunities to expand your knowledge of new preservation strategies and to network with other advocates and practitioners. Participants included members of historical societies and building committees, heritage and historic commissions, architects, contractors, planners, investors and others interested in New Hampshire’s architectural history and heritage.

Inspired by this year’s gathering in Littleton and curated for the preservationist in us all are a few recommended scenic road trips for you to consider: Connecticut River Valley, White Mountains and Coos County.

 Over 175 Gather for Historic Preservation Conference in Littleton
Alliance sees positive trends and deep commitment

 Understanding the significant social and economic value of historic preservation were top priorities for the more than 175 people who attended the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance’s biennial preservation conference on May 31 in Littleton, N.H.

The conference featured a keynote address by Thompson M. Mayes, vice president and senior counsel of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and author of “Why Old Places Matter: How Historic Places Affect Our Identity and Well-Being.” Mayes offered insights into how to talk about the meaning and value of historic buildings, neighborhoods and downtowns for individuals and communities.

A view of the River Mill Bridge spanning the mighty Ammonusuc River, which flows through the historic town of Littleton, N.H., where the Preservation Conference and Achievement Awards Ceremony were held this year. (Photo by Kris Covey.)

A view of the River Mill Bridge spanning the mighty Ammonusuc River, which flows through the historic town of Littleton, N.H., where the Preservation Conference and Achievement Awards Ceremony were held this year. (Photo by Kris Covey.)

“In a world that is constantly changing,” Mayes said, “old places provide people with a sense of being part of a continuum that is necessary for them to be psychologically and emotionally healthy.”

Attendees learned about the positive impacts of preservation through case studies drawn from the towns of Belmont, Bristol, Canterbury, Durham, Harrisville, Lancaster, Middleton and Rochester, as well as from properties around Squam Lake. They also attended sessions on conserving rural landscapes and revitalizing main streets and downtowns.

Littleton Town Manager Andrew Dorsett highlighted the combined use of historic stewardship and entrepreneurial strategies by local organizations and businesses as critical for his community’s success in building a vibrant downtown and attracting young families. Will Stewart of Stay Work Play New Hampshire led the discussion of changing demographic trends across the state, while Senator David Watters addressed the need to plan for coastal resiliency.

Recognized experts in historic preservation and community leaders led sessions focused on preservation tools and strategies for saving and re-purposing historic municipal buildings and other community landmarks, as well as best practices for effective communications and fundraising. Another session explored the untapped potential of the state’s extensive networks of hiking and rail trails to connect to and stimulate the economies of historic villages and downtowns.

“It’s inspiring to see the growing understanding of preservation strategies and benefits in an era of many competing demands,” said Andrew Cushing, field service representative for the Preservation Alliance. “Both older and younger people are drawn to authentic and historic places, which can play a significant role in strengthening local economies and creating more vibrant communities.”

Littleton has developed a vibrant and award-winning Main Street that features many historic buildings and a diverse range of shops, galleries, restaurants, a brewery, local artisans and a beautifully restored Victorian mansion that serves as the Littleton Community Center. (Photo by Karl Stone.)

Littleton has developed a vibrant and award-winning Main Street that features many historic buildings and a diverse range of shops, galleries, restaurants, a brewery, local artisans and a beautifully restored Victorian mansion that serves as the Littleton Community Center. (Photo by Karl Stone.)

Attendees enjoyed tours of Littleton’s historic landmarks with Richard Alberini, president of the Littleton Historical Society, along with tours of the Littleton River District and Shilling Beer Company by John Hennessey and Chad Stearns of the Littleton River District Commission.

The preservation conference concluded with a networking reception at the Littleton Community Center, a Victorian mansion on Main Street that serves as a center for community events and activities. George Mitchell, a member of the center’s board, described plans for the final phase of the building’s restoration and rehabilitation. The building was previously listed to the Preservation Alliance’s Seven to Save list and in 2018, it won a Preservation Achievement Award. 

The preservation conference is held every other year; the next one will take place in spring 2021.

The Preservation Alliance is grateful for the support of our generous sponsors, including the following:

Organizational partners supporting this event include:  AIA New Hampshire, Association of Historical Societies of NHAARP NH, Hunter Research, Inc., Littleton Historical Society, NH Department of Resources and Economic Development, Bureau of Historic Sites, NH Division of Historical Resources, NH Historical Society, Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, NH Municipal Association, Plan New Hampshire, and Stay Work Play NH.

Sponsors of our Preservation Conference include: Bedard Preservation & Restoration; Fifield Building Restoration & Relocation LLC; Ian Blackman LLC, Restoration & Preservation; Northland Forest Products; The Rowley Agency; Sheehan Phinney; Arch Weathers Historic Sashworks; New Hampshire Conservation and Heritage License Plate Program (Moose Plate); Sash and Solder; and SMP Architecture.

Sponsors of our Preservation Achievement Awards include: Lavallee/Bresinger Architects, North Branch Construction, and Kas-Bar Realty, Inc., Littleton Millwork, Inc, Norton Asset Management, Nobis Engineering, Petersen Engineering, Piscataqua Bank, Sash and Solder, Scully Architects, Turnstone Corporation and Winn Mountain Restorations.

For more information, visit nhpreservation.org or call 603-224-2281.