What is a Preservation Easement
In general, an easement is a voluntary legal agreement that conveys to a second party a partial interest or right in a property but does not convey ownership. With a preservation easement, the right that an owner gives to the second party is the right to protect and preserve the historic character of the property. It is a legally enforceable agreement that allows the owner of the property to retain ownership, use and possession of a historic property while granting to someone else the authority to protect the historic and architectural features of the property. The owner retains all of the usual rights to the property, except the right to substantially alter or fail to maintain the historic character of the property. Easements are customized with each property and continue with successive owners.
“Preservation easements that protect architectural features are based in the same state and federal law as conservation easements which protect natural resources,” said Jennifer Goodman, Preservation Alliance executive director. “The Preservation Alliance has helped develop many easements for waterfront and farm properties, and holds easements for several significant landmarks including a 1791 tavern in Hopkinton, a Portsmouth church where civil rights leader Martin Luther King preached, and the farm and retreat of statesman Daniel Webster in Franklin, N.H.”
Perpetual easements for properties on the National Register of Historic Places may also afford some tax advantages for easement donors.
To Prevent Barn Fires
A barn fire is a devastating experience for the barn owner and often for the community, which views the barn as a local landmark. New Hampshire’s historic barns are our links centuries of hard work and dedication to the land. When we lose these barns, we lose a key link to our heritage. We have seen weekly barn fires in the news recently and want to share some tips on ways to help avoid such catastrophe and loss.
Use these tips to reduce risk of fire in your historic barn:
- Make sure wiring is in good condition and out of reach of farm animals. Comply with all barn wiring codes, i.e. wire in conduit and light bulbs covered. Make sure all appliances used in the barn are in good working order and directly plugged into outlet (no extension cords).
- Absolutely NO SMOKING!
- Keep barn clean. Periodically remove cobwebs from ceilings, lofts and walls.
- Store only dry hay in barn - wet/damp hay can spontaneously combust.
- If motorized equipment must be stored in the barn, be extremely careful to prevent oil/gas spills. Cover floor boards with drip pans or absorbent mats that can be discarded when soiled.
- Open loft doors to help increase ventilation during hot summer months (but keep rain out!)
- Install lightning rods.
- Invest high-quality smoke and heat sensors in the barn and have alarms mounted to barn exterior and inside of house.
- Keep ABC fire extinguishers at barn entry points, and interior locations too if barn is large.
- Install sprinklers if animals are housed in the barn.
Check with your local fire department or building inspector for other ideas.
Unique Holiday Gifts
If your holiday shopping list includes a do-it-yourselfer, an owner of an old house or barn, or simply someone who loves New Hampshire’s historic buildings, the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance can be a hassle-free shopping option. Check out the full list here.
The Window Weatherization Kit includes the necessary products to help tighten up your drafty wood windows while preserving their historic charm. The kit includes best practice tips, resource materials, and a one-year membership to the NH Preservation Alliance offering discounts to our programs and workshops. A perfect gift to help keep your old house friends warm this winter! ($50 + $5 shipping)
A gift membership to the Preservation Alliance helps support New Hampshire’s statewide preservation organization but it also includes a quarterly newsletter, invitations and discounts to do-it-yourself workshops, and behind-the-scene tours of some of New Hampshire’s special places, such as summer camps and cottages on Squam Lake, Moses Eaton and Rufus Porter murals in Hancock, and the barns of Cornish. ($30 individual; $50 family). Books and more here.
This Year's Seven to Save
Each year, nominations for the statewide Seven to Save list highlight critical preservation needs and opportunities around the state. This year's selection includes some unusual places, highly significant structures, and one group of buildings whose very purpose is undergoing profound change. Help out by contacting one of the property or project representatives below, or contact Maggie Stier at the Preservation Alliance at 224-2281 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support the Preservation Alliance and stay connected!
Old Public Library, Boscawen
The town library moved into larger quarters in 2006, leaving vacant this 1913 Colonial Revival gem by noted Boston architect Guy Lowell. A new use and new funding could reopen it for public use.
Contact: Town Administrator Michael Wright, 753-9188, email@example.com
Gas Holder, Concord
A relic of the gas-lighting age, this is reportedly the only enclosed gasholder in the United States to survive with its floating iron tank intact. Unused since 1952, it was badly damaged by a falling tree last year. Owner Liberty Utilities now faces hard choices about maintaining an obsolete facility.
Contact: Deb Hale, 231-4729, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kimball Jenkins Estate, Concord
This in-town estate has struggled for over 30 years to meet the terms of its last owner’s bequest and serve the creative needs of the city of Concord. It is now facing a new challenge—roadway flooding.
Contact: Ryan Linehan, 225-3932, email@example.com
The Durham Pool, University of NH
This highly unusual WPA-built facility has been a beloved community gathering place for generations. Local advocates seek a compromise that would let UNH expand adjacent athletic facilities and still save the pool.
Kimball Castle, Gilford
Benjamin Kimball’s 1899 summer home is close to ruin and for sale. It has become a cause célèbre as the town considers a request for demolition of a privately held property that was supposed to have been rehabilitated long ago.
Contact: Carol Anderson, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Coldwell Banker, Laconia, 524-2255
Sanborn Seminary, Kingston
Vacant since the last class graduated in 2006, this former public high school is owned by a multi-town school district. Voters rejected a $2 million renovation plan last year. The school board is now pondering next steps.Contact: Janice Bennett, 382-6157, email@example.com
From Plainfield to Pittsburg to Penacook, dozens of Granges are struggling to maintain their aging buildings, preserve their civic and social traditions, and attract new sources of support, a daunting challenge that cooperative action may help to solve.Statewide: Jim Tetreault, firstname.lastname@example.org
For a printable version of this list, please click here.
Hunter Ulf, AIA, board member of the Preservation Alliance and chair of the Seven to Save committee, introduced the list at an event on October 22, saying “Seven to Save is a means to recognize the value of saving and reviving historic places that are important to both local communities and our statewide heritage. And it is a call to action so that these important places might get what they need to continue as defining elements of their communities.”
Criteria for Seven to Save include the property’s historical or architectural significance, severity of the current threat, and the extent to which the Seven to Save listing could help in preserving or protecting the property.
“Our 2013 Seven to Save list was drawn from the largest group of nominations in years,” said Maggie Stier, field service representative for the Preservation Alliance. “Many of these places are architectural gems, like Guy Lowell’s tiny Boscawen Library. He also the New Hampshire Historical Society building in Concord and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. We also listed two outstanding examples of Victorian Gothic: the Kimball Jenkins Estate in Concord and Sanborn Seminary in Kingston. The challenges in effectively saving and re-using all these structures are considerable.”
Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the Preservation Alliance, noted some of the key successes from previous Seven to Save lists. “This year the town of Durham made a commitment to preservation of the 100-year old Mill Pond Dam, the Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall raised nearly $1 million in pledges, Upper Village Hall in Derry is operating as a community meeting facility, and the Charlestown Town Hall received LCHIP funding for window restoration. Of the 49 sites named to the list since 2006, we consider over half of them now out of danger and ‘saved,’” she added.
The 2013 Seven to Save announcement took place at The Manchester Masonic Temple on Elm Street, and those who attended were treated to guided tours of the venerable, privately-owned and well-maintained structure. The event also included a brief annual meeting of the Preservation Alliance and a reception to honor the new Seven to Save project advocates. A proclamation by Governor Maggie Hassan celebrating New Hampshire History Week was also read at the event by Executive Councilor Chris Pappas. New Hampshire History Week unites citizens in recognition of the important events, people, places, documents, and artifacts that form the distinctive character of our state.
Seven to Save sponsors include:
Brady Sullivan Properties; HEB Engineers, Inc.; Lavallee Brensinger Architects
For Sale: Historic Riverside Academy Schoolhouse
For Sale by Owner
North Weare, New Hampshire
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this historic 1 ½ story brick schoolhouse was built c. 1856 and stands on approx. ½ acre marked by granite posts and fencing. In North Weare, 15 minutes west of Concord, NH. Residential/ agricultural zoning.
The main room measures 30’x40’ with an attached wood building that measures 16’x49’. Inside, the building retains much of its original detailing. A curving wooden staircase with rounded handrail leads to the upper level. The main school room features a narrow vertical board tongue and groove siding underneath a chalk railing which circumscribes the room. The pressed tin ceiling, added in the late 19th or early 20th century displays a decorative cornice and a field comprised of square and rectangular panels decorated by urns and geometric patterns with anthemion at the corners.
The building is considered to be 75% restored with two new furnaces, alarm system, plumbing, wiring and electric. It offers many possibilities.
Asking $275,000. For more information, please call 603-860-9192 or 603-497-3683.
Historic Resources and the Northern Pass
If you are concerned about the impact of the Northern Pass project on historic and older buildings, village centers and landscapes:
- Understand what you have. Talk to neighbors, friends, historical society members and others. Consider old farms, historic views in town, and settings of community landmarks. What do you care about that may be affected?
- Share your concerns through public processes. There are opportunities to comment through processes associated with the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
- Let us know. Please contact Maggie Stier at email@example.com or 224-2281 with specific information about potential impacts or questions about the processes.
Ask to be a consulting party under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Send to: Brian Mills Senior Planning Advisor, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE-20)
U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20585
Phone: 202-586-8267, Fax: 202-586-8008, Email: Brian.Mills@hq.doe.gov Or through www.northernpasseis.us
Sample letter available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Small Theaters Struggle to Survive
Close your eyes and envision a downtown or town center that you want to visit and it likely includes an old movie theater with an iconic marquee. New Hampshire has its share of theater success stories – large and small theaters adapting to changing market demands. The state also has had its share of significant losses as well as theaters with uncertain futures, such as the Colonial Theater in Laconia (Seven to Save, 2010) and the Ioka Theater in Exeter (Seven to Save, 2012).
New Hampshire’s movie theater development followed national trends, with vaudeville venues supplanted by movie palaces in the first decades of the 20th century and drive-ins sprouting up after the proliferation of the automobile. Over the last two generations, both big movie palaces and old-time downtown single-screen theaters have had their share of challenges. With only one screen, they had difficulty securing films from distributors who demanded longer runs. Suburban multiplexes fit the evolving marketplace best. Today, audiences have access to alternatives—cable television, video rentals and an enormous library of instant online offerings. And now, operators must switch to from 35 mm film reels to digital projection, an expensive venture.
Successful theaters have found ways to meet current market demands with creative marketing, physical changes, and diversified income.
“From the very beginning, New Hampshire’s movie theatres served as centers for community activity” said Van McLeod, commissioner of the state Department of Cultural Resources. “As multiplexes have taken over the market for big-budget films, today’s historic theatres and newly opened art houses are successfully returning to that versatile model, creating community events through innovative programming like showing independent films and offering discussion events afterward, providing amazing venues for local performers or hosting Red Carpet celebrations and other special events.” The Jax Jr. in Littleton (c. 1920, rebuilt after fires in 1924 and 1951) now divided into two theaters, shows first-run movies and offers rentals for parties and special events. The Majestic in Conway and Rialto in Lancaster are both active movie houses and hosts of community activities.
Civic leaders and non-profit groups have stepped in, not only to help save and revive large theaters through major campaigns—as with the Capitol Theater in Concord (now the Capital Center for the Arts), the Palace in Manchester, the Music Hall in Portsmouth, and the Colonial theaters in Keene and Bethlehem—but also iconic small movie theaters. For example, the Exeter Theater Company has launched a bold capital campaign to raise $4.6 million to purchase, renovate, and open the 1915 Ioka Theater in downtown Exeter to create an art house theater that provides a diversified mix of live music, theater, film, multi-media, dance, and community events.
The group has an option to purchase the building from its current owner, Kensington Exeter, LLC by March 31 for $600,000. The building’s needs include structural repairs, a new roof, modern safety systems (including sprinklers), a new staircase, screen, curtains, seats, sound, and digital projection systems.
Working mixed (!) list of active large and small theaters, performing arts and movies:
Capital Center for the Arts, Concord, www.ccanh.org
Colonial Theater, Bethlehem, www.bethlehemcolonial.org
Colonial Theater, Keene, www.thecolonial.org
Jax Jr., Littleton, www.jaxjrcinemas.com
Majestic Theater, Conway, www.hometowntheater.org
Music Hall, Portmouth, www.themusichall.org
Palace Theater, Manchester, www.palacetheater.org
Rialto Theater, Lancaster, www.lancasterrialto.com
Rochester Opera House, www.rochesteroperahouse.com
Wilton Town Hall Theater, www.wiltontownhalltheater.org
Working (short; there are many more!) list of lost theaters:
Majestic Theater, Keene, built 1905, demolished 1937
Latchis Theater, Keene, built 1923, closed early 1980s, demolished 2012
Colonial Theater, Portsmouth, demolished 2005
State Theater, Manchester, built 1929
Bristol Theater, Bristol, built 1920s
Send your suggestions, additions and corrections to Virginia Davidson at email@example.com.
P.S. Also send along your ideas for favorite films that have preservation themes or the setting feels like a major character.
We'll post a list on-line during Preservation Month in May.
Use of Barn Tax Incentive Continues to Rise
Eighty-six towns and cities in New Hampshire are now using the state's tax incentive program to encourage historic barn preservation. According to data collected by the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration, by the close of 2012, 425 historic structures were enrolled in the program.
New municipalities which joined the ten-year-old program this past year showing their support for the preservation of historic barns in their communities are Easton, Jaffrey and New London.
The most notable increase took place in Henniker with 4 additional structures put under easement, jumping from 3 to 7. Peterborough continues to lead the state with the number of structure protected at 23, with Plainfield second at 18, and Cornish and Kensington tied for third at 17 each.
“We are encouraged that the use of the barn tax incentive program continues to grow,” said Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance. “People across the state, and their municipal leaders understand the significance of these historic structures and their importance in telling the story of N.H.’s agricultural past and the value these barns bring to the scenic landscape of their communities,” she said.
Modeled after the state's open space discretionary easement program, the barn tax incentive allows municipalities to grant property tax relief to barn owners who can demonstrate the public benefit of preserving their barns or other old farm buildings while agreeing to maintain their structures through a 10-year renewable easement. In return, the local board of selectmen or city council provides tax relief of 25% to 75% of the full assessed value of the building and the land underneath it. In addition, the assessment will not increase as a result of maintenance or repair work that is performed while the easement is in effect.
Carl Schmidt, chair of the N.H. Historic Agricultural Structures Advisory Committee, welcomed the continued growth of the tax incentive program, noting that it is now being used in over a third of all towns and cities in the state. However, he also cautioned that, "this important tool is still under-utilized and I hope that more barn owners and municipalities embrace this opportunity to help save an essential part of our state’s character."
Barn owners interested in applying for the incentive to become effective in the coming tax year need to apply by April 15, 2013. Also of note is that easements that went into effect the first year of the program (2003) for a ten-year term will expire on March 31, 2013. Property taxes on the relevant structures may then increase unless the easements are renewed. Applications for renewal, like new applications, must be submitted to your local Selectboard on N.H. DRA form PA-36-A no later than April 15, 2013.
Applications can be obtained from your town office or download an information packet with application from the Alliance’s web-site www.nhpreservation.org or call 603-224-2281. Applications are also available at http://www.revenue.nh.gov/munc_prop/forms/documents/pa-36A.pdf
Additional features of the comprehensive barn preservation initiative directed by the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, the state Division of Historical Resources and other members of the Historic Agricultural Structures Advisory Committee include technical assistance, a voluntary survey program, an information network, and educational programs and publications.
The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance is the state's nonprofit membership organization committed to preserving historic buildings, communities and landscapes through leadership, education and advocacy.
The New Hampshire Historic Agricultural Structures Advisory Committee was established by state legislation in 1999 to support the preservation of N.H.’s historic barns and agricultural structures. The committee is comprised of representatives from state agencies, non-profit organizations and agricultural leaders.
New Hampshire's Division of Historical Resources, the “State Historic Preservation Office,” was established in 1974. Historical and archaeological resources are among the most important environmental assets of the state. Historic preservation promotes the use, understanding and conservation of such resources for the education, inspiration, and enrichment of New Hampshire’s citizens.
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