Preservation Alliance Announces 11 Awards
On May 10, the N.H. Preservation Alliance announced eleven awards for outstanding historic preservation projects. The 2016 awards showcased small towns accomplishing enormous tasks, small businesses saving and re-using old seacoast farms, examples of exceptional community engagement, and innovative preservation strategies. Special guests and past winners who helped with the presentation included Governor Maggie Hassan, Alex Ray of The Common Man Restaurants, Bill Binnie of Binnie Media/NH 1, and Lorraine Merrill, N.H. Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets & Food. Winners are:
Town of Langdon for the rehabilitation of the Langdon Meetinghouse
Photo: courtesy Dennis McClary
Town of Stark for the rehabilitation of the Stark Covered Bridge
Photo: courtesy HEB Engineers
Town of Rumney for the addition to the Byron G. Merrill Library
Peter Rhoades for rehabilitation of Drake Farm for Hubbingtons Furniture, North Hampton
Throwback Brewery for the rescue and re-use of Hobbs Farm, North Hampton
Photo: Ramsey Bakhoum
Town of Epping for the rehabilitation of Watson Academy
Town of Wolfeboro for the rehabilitation of Brewster Memorial Hall
Photo: courtesy Bob Ness
City of Portsmouth for the African Burying Ground project
Photo: courtesy LCHIP
N.H. Historical Society for the rehabilitation of the N.H. Historical Society Building, Concord
Photo: courtesy N.H. Historical Society
Timothy Nichols for the rehabilitation of the Lang Blacksmith Shop, Newmarket
Photo: courtesy AECm
Strawbery Banke Museum, Elizabeth Durfee Hengen Award for its Heritage House Program
Photo: courtesyStrawbery Banke Museum
The awards recognize individuals, organizations, and businesses in the categories of restoration and stewardship, rehabilitation, compatible new construction, public policy, and educational and planning initiatives across the state. “We welcome this opportunity to recognize outstanding projects and while hopefully inspiring others,” said the Preservation Alliance’s Executive Director Jennifer Goodman. “These are the kinds of places we can’t imagine New Hampshire without,” she said, “and we want to recognize the people who have worked to save and revive these landmarks.” It is the Alliance’s 27th year of honoring preservation achievement.
“Awards this year showcased investments by developers and municipalities that have transformed buildings and provided jump-starts to communities,” said Kathy Bogle Shields, the chair of the Preservation Alliance’s board of directors. “These projects show how investment in our past can yield real benefits in the future, making old buildings viable with innovation and rethinking landmark buildings as key to our economic growth.”
Three small towns (with a combined population of less than 3,000) displayed exceptional vision, energy and resources to plan and execute large, complex “blue-ribbon” efforts. The Town of Langdon revitalized and restored their Meetinghouse, which has hosted town meetings since 1803, longer than any other existing building in New Hampshire and maybe the country. The Town of Stark rehabilitated their deteriorated, unusable Covered Bridge, one of the most photographed and painted spots in New Hampshire and one of only 20 Paddleford truss bridges remaining in the world. The Town of Rumney added an addition to their historic Byron G. Merrill l Library to provide barrier-free access for this well-loved and well-used community gathering place.
Farms are part of the history and identity of New Hampshire, and two award winners in North Hampton are outstanding examples of new uses that bring vitality to old places: the rescue and re-use of Hobbs Farm for Throwback Brewery and the rehabilitation of the Drake Farm for Hubbingtons Furniture.
Three projects exemplify the power of community engagement. The large-scale Brewster Memorial Hall rehabilitation kept a major downtown Wolfeboro building in use and reopened the long-shuttered second floor to community use thanks to private/public partnership. Major community advocacy led to rehabilitation of town-owned Watson Academy in Epping; a UNH professor and his students developed an engineering solution to save this Queen Anne landmark damaged by a small earthquake. The African Burying Ground project, in a downtown Portsmouth neighborhood, commemorates the resting place - and contributions - of the African and African-descended people from Portsmouth’s earliest days. Many partners worked together in a long project to protect and rebury exhumed human remains, stabilize the archeological resource, protect the site from further degradation and restore a sense of sacredness and honor.
Awards for projects in Concord, Newmarket and Portsmouth highlight inspiring examples of businesses, volunteers, and municipalities finding new solutions to challenges, using advanced building science techniques and helping to revitalize neighborhoods. The rehabilitation of the N.H. Historical Society in Concord tucked new energy efficiency and climate control systems into their headquarters building that has one of the most elaborate and intact interiors in New Hampshire. Timothy Nichols’ revitalization of a rare, long-vacant blacksmith shop along the Newmarket waterfront adds new vitality to the mixed office and residential spaces downtown. Strawbery Banke’s Heritage House Program upgraded 10 museum buildings for new museum, office and residential uses to meet enhanced economic and civic goals. “The program has benefited the City in many ways,” said John P. Bohenko, City Manager, City of Portsmouth. “It has continued the museum’s efforts to pursue high-quality preservation projects and has added residential and office tenants who have contributed to the vitality of the business district. In addition, the program adds to the Museum’s viability, which in turn helps to ensure its long term future and continued access to quality programming for Portsmouth,” he said.
Goodman noted that the Langdon, Epping and Wolfeboro projects had been on the Alliance’s Seven to Save list of endangered properties in the past, and emphasized the tenacity of the private developers and community advocates as well as the importance of investments by the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, N.H. Housing Finance Authority, N.H. Community Development Finance Authority, and the N.H. conservation and heritage license plate grant program in several of the projects.
Generous awards program sponsors include Mountain View Grand, TMS Architects, Sheehan Phinney and The Common Man Family of Restaurants as well as AECm, Christopher P. Williams Architects PLLC, The H.L. Turner Group, Hutter Construction, Lyme Properties 2 LLC, Meridian Construction Company, Milestone Engineering & Construction Inc. and The Rowley Agency, Inc.
The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance supports and encourages the revitalization and protection of historic buildings and places which strengthens communities and local economies.
Current priorities include providing assistance to community leaders, helping owners of long-held family farms and promoting the use of easements, barn preservation and tax incentives.
More on the winners, from presentation:
Town of Langdon
Revitalization and restoration of the Langdon Meetinghouse
Langdon Heritage Commission
Landscapes by Jay Grant
Griffin Dussault, General Contractor
NH Conservation and Heritage License Plate Program
Land and Community Heritage Investment Program
New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
Savings Bank of Walpole
All Seasons Construction
Reviving the most significant building in the tiny town of Langdon was a very big project. The 1803 meetinghouse has hosted annual town meetings since it was built, a statewide record that may be unrivalled nationally. About ten years ago, the roof system was failing, the stone foundation was collapsing, foundation sills were rotting and floor joists were split. The people of Langdon along with its newly-formed heritage commission, working with preservation architect Rick Monahon, developed a multi-phased plan. Seven to Save listing in 2008 helped attract attention, warrant articles, grants, business support, and generous private contributions helped fund the work.
The building was lifted to install a new foundation and repair the 12 x 12 sills, floor joists and piers. Next, a condemned chimney was replaced, and a first-ever septic system, well, and bathroom were added. In a second phase of work, first floor interior space was rehabilitated to meet fire code, accessibility, and polling place requirements. Careful attention was taken to preserve evidence of the tiny room that had once served as a town office to the right of the stage.
We applaud this ambitious project for its thorough planning, broad community support, and excellent leadership and execution. A hidden treasure, the second floor church space, remains intact though inaccessible to groups, awaiting future plans and preservation.
As Heritage Commission chair Dennis McClary has noted, this building has continually evolved to meet the needs of each generation; now Langdon citizens can look forward to having it serve as the center of the town’s social and civic life for the next hundred years.
Town of Stark
Rehabilitation of the Stark Covered Bridge
HEB Engineers, Inc.
Alpine Construction LLC
The Stark Covered Bridge is one of the most photographed bridges in New Hampshire thanks to its village setting next to a church and the Upper Ammonoosuc River. It is also one of only 20 Paddleford truss bridges remaining in the world. Paddleford was a New Hampshire millwright and bridge builder whose design was popular for much of the 19th century in New Hampshire, Maine and eastern Vermont.
Despite periodic renovation campaigns over time and repair work as recent as the 1980s, dangerous conditions landed this bridge on the NH Department of Transportation’s “Structurally Deficient” list. Concerns included insect damage and rot in the trusses, sagging in the unique cantilevered sidewalks, a rutted deck and a leaking roof.
Facing $1.4 million in rehabilitation costs, the little town of Stark and its population of just over 500, worked together to secure state and local funds to match a major federal grant to cover the costs. The project combined old and new technology to meet current safety standards. By reusing the original timber trusses wherever possible, the required support for snow and wind loads was achieved. New steel beams and glue-laminated panels were installed to support traffic loads. The old stone abutments were retained and protected by adding grouted riprap.
In addition, energy-efficient lighting was installed, fire retardant paint and wood coatings, and new fire detection heads and sprinklers were installed.
This favorite historic engineering landmark is now revived for current and future generations of residents, travelers and photographers to enjoy—safely and to high preservation standards.
Town of Rumney
Byron G. Merrill Library Addition
Trustees of the Byron G. Merrill Library
Dennis Mires, P.A., The Architects
Conneston Construction, Inc.
Elizabeth Durfee Hengen, Preservation Consultant
Land and Community Heritage Investment Program
Cogswell PETERevolent Trust
Samuel P. Hunt Foundation
This little project to create a modest library addition has big benefits for its community and serves as a model of good preservation for the entire state.
Constructed in 1904 in the Beaux-Arts style, the Merrill library is considered the most ornate and popular building in town. In addition to housing over 16,000 volumes, it hosts several weekly children’s programs, public access computers, the town’s knitting club, movie nights, and other well-received, year-round programming. What it lacked was barrier-free access.
A small, well-designed rear addition met this need and the process that was followed to design and build the addition was also exemplary. Positive features included a feasibility study that helped set a good course, a high level of collaboration between the Town and the project’s design and historic preservation advisors, and strong community support. A new property boundary was negotiated with the church next door, and a commemorative pathway was designed to raise funds and acknowledge benefactors. The new addition is well-scaled, follows the Secretary of Interior’s standards for new construction and helps the community and the library in many ways – providing access to both upper and lower levels, an accessible restroom and a means of second egress from the lower level.
With this boost, the historic library now serves a broader audience and should become an even greater resource and gathering place for the town into the future.
Rehabilitation of the Drake Farm for Hubbington Furniture, North Hampton
Lisa Mausolf, Preservation Consultant
Robert Cummings & Associates
J.J. Sunderland Construction
N.H. Division of Historical Resources
This rehabilitation project for a second retail store for Hubbingtons Furniture gave new life to a significant, surviving example of a connected barn complex in a highly-visible location along Route 1. The Drake Family settled here in the 1700s, and during the Civil War were major suppliers of mutton to the Union Army. The land was farmed until the 1970s, then the barn housed a used book store. Peter Rhoades bought it in 2013; his personal commitment to preservation, and his use of two tax benefit programs, set this project apart.
Peter, his wife Nancy, and their two children spent hours clearing out and fixing the barn. He attended barn tours, reached out to the Preservation Alliance for help, and contacted the last of the Drake family – Mary Drake Hale in Colorado - to learn about the property’s history.
Peter received tax relief through the state’s Barn Tax Incentive program, RSA 79-D, and worked with the NH Division of Historical Resources to use the 20% Federal Investment Tax Credit for the Rehabilitation of Historic Places—the first for a barn project in New Hampshire. In keeping with these programs’ requirements, the emphasis was on rehab rather than replacement. Additive solutions were found rather than removing historic elements. Radiant heat was installed in the basement, and the original granite supports were left in place. The two upper floors also became display space; visitors can admire the well-worn historic flooring and find the carved and written graffiti left by generations of Drake Farm workers.
The process turned Peter Rhoades into an enthusiastic spokesman for finding new uses for old barns. Next time you’re in the Seacoast region, be sure to visit Hubbingtons Furniture, and see how it can be done.
Rescue and re-use of Hobbs Farm, North Hampton
Manypenny Murphy Architecture
Milestone Engineering & Construction, Inc.
Annette Lee and Nicole Carrier, co-founders of Throwback Brewery, transformed the historic Hobbs Farm barn into an outstanding “save” while offering up another excellent example of creative re-use.
The Hobbs family had owned this Route 1 property since the 1700s. The large Victorian house and 120 foot long barn with attached silo and carriage sheds is a favorite local landmark, so community and preservation concerns ran high when the buildings and nearly 30 acres of commercial and residential-zoned land went to auction in 2012.
Amid concerns that the history and farm use could have been lost forever, the new buyers brought a creative vision and a preservation ethic to the project. They assembled a team to give the farm buildings a new use while retaining key features, building on their previous micro-brewery success to expand into the lively seacoast beer market in what has already become a very successful venture.
The huge barn is now divided by the original refurbished sliding glass doors into two areas—the brewing and tasting room, and a restaurant. The granite foundation was retained and floorboards were re-used. Steel and engineered lumber was added to carry the weight of equipment and meet codes for assembly space. Windows, trim and other materials were retained wherever possible. State of the art wastewater disposal systems are now undetectable under the former fields. The house itself, with few changes, still serves as a residence. This is a project that everyone can enjoy visiting.
Stop in sometime!
Town of Epping
Rehabilitation of Watson Academy
Town of Epping, Recreation Department
Town of Epping, Historical District Commission
The Save Watson Academy Committee
Watson Senior Citizen's Group
Epping Historical Society
University of New Hampshire, Professor Charlie Goodspeed and Students
Summit Engineering Firm
Land and Community Heritage Investment Program
Celebrated at its opening in 1883 as “our gem on the hill,” Watson Academy is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its associations with the development of public education in the town of Epping and as an excellent example of a rural and regional interpretation of the Queen Anne style.
Used for nearly 100 years as a school, Watson most recently housed the Epping Recreation Department and Senior Citizens. In 2012, the building was closed over structural concerns, believed by many to have been caused by a slight earthquake earlier that year. Different studies offered different solutions, all costly, and public debate ranged from “do nothing” to “tear it down.” A dedicated group of community members rallied to promote preservation and find a cost-effective rehabilitation plan.
With the Preservation Alliance’s Seven to Save designation, and a grant from the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, the town of Epping partnered with Epping resident and UNH engineering professor Charlie Goodspeed and his students to engineer a solution that included removing an early “fix” that was holding first floor levels in place, installing new supports below the basement level, and reinforcing first floor framing. Other repair work was completed before a grand reopening earlier this year.
“Dear Watson” will continue to shine and serve its community thanks to commitment of many in Epping--Academy graduates and new-comers alike worked together to build community support and get the job done.
Town of Wolfeboro
Rehabilitation of Brewster Memorial Hall
Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall
Conneston Construction, Inc.
Northeast Collaborative Architects
The civic heart of downtown Wolfeboro has now been revived, thanks to commendable persistence and a strong public-private partnership.
Built in 1890, the Romanesque Revival Brewster Memorial Hall was designed to house town offices along with three commercial storefronts that would generate income for the building’s upkeep. The large second floor hall hosted town meetings, movies, concerts and dances until the 1980s when it was closed due to lack of code compliance.
In 2007, the town hired an architect to fully rehabilitate the aging building, but voters rejected the $6.7 million price tag, as well as a subsequent less expensive version. The Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall supported an incremental approach, and they hired new experts, hosted community forums, got funding to restore the tower clock, raised pledges of nearly $1 million and got out the vote for a third –and successful--warrant article request in March 2014 for just $4 million. The slate roof was repaired and masonry repointed. Office layouts were improved, energy upgrades were made, an elevator was added, all interior woodwork was preserved, and major staircases were retained and rehabilitated. Removal of the 20th century dropped ceiling in the Great Hall revealed a handsome wood truss system and dormer windows.
Since the re-dedication late last year, this well-loved building is also very well-used, bringing new appreciation for historic preservation and a renewed sense of community pride and vitality.
City of Portsmouth
African Burying Ground Project
Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on the African Burying Ground
African Burying Ground Community Volunteers
NH Division of Historic Resources
Woodburn & Company Landscape Architecture
Independent Archeological Consulting, LLC
Piscataqua Landscaping and Tree Service
Full Circle Stone Works
CMA Engineers, Inc.
Seacoast African American Cultural Center
Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail/ Portsmouth Historical Society
Portsmouth Middle School Art Student and Student Artists
Art-Speak, City of Portsmouth Cultural Commission
Land and Community Heritage Investment Program
New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
The accidental discovery of a long-forgotten burial ground was the catalyst for this outstanding effort to commemorate the resting place - and contributions - of the African and African-descended people from Portsmouth’s earliest days. Many partners worked together in a long project to protect and rebury exhumed human remains, stabilize the archeological resource, protect the site from further degradation and restore a sense of sacredness and honor.
In use as early as 1705, the burying ground was active until the 1790s. This segregated burying space was built over, paved over and largely forgotten. Physical proof of its existence underneath a City street near the heart of Portsmouth’s downtown was revealed during construction work in 2003, though the site was marked on the Black Heritage Trail. It is the only archaeologically-authenticated burying ground of its age in all of Northern New England.
Many community organizations and hundreds of citizens contributed to the discussion and planning for how to treat the site after the uncovering. A thoughtful Memorial and design concept was adopted and constructed in 2015 after years of intensive collaboration between the Portsmouth City Council and staff, dedicated community volunteers, archaeological professionals, an accomplished design team, and carefully assembled construction team.
The memorial design - “We Stand in Honor of Those Forgotten” - preserves the burying ground by re-interring human remains, closes the street to through traffic, and includes unique works of outdoor public art with references to West African cultural roots. Male and female cast bronze figures at the entry reach for each other around a granite slab; their fingers are close but not touching in a symbol of separation, uncertainty and hardship. Other standing figures represent the modern Portsmouth community in homage, protecting the vault, and giving witness to the sites history.
Over five-hundred people attended the reburial and dedication event last May. A series of events - including an overnight Ancestral Vigil with spoken word, song, and prayer – preceded a dramatic reburial ceremony where 19 male pall-bearers of African descent carried the remains to a burial vault at the Memorial. Anonymous volunteer stewards ensure fresh flowers are at the site daily. If you’ve visited, you know that the effort was a success. We have confidence that it will continue to be a catalyst for conversation and action for generations.
New Hampshire Historical Society
Rehabilitation of the N.H. Historical Society building
The H.L. Turner Group
Milestone Engineering & Construction, Inc.
Land and Community Heritage Investment Program
National Endowment for the Humanities
Dr. James Garvin, Preservation Consultant
In 1911, Boston architect Guy Lowell designed the New Hampshire Historical Society’s Park Street building of local granite with lavish interiors of Italian and French marble, and it still serves as a proud symbol of the Society’s commitment to care for New Hampshire’s important history. This recent, approximately $1.5 million project dramatically improved the building’s energy efficiency, improved collections care, and exemplifies outstanding preservation planning and creative design.
The original structure was technologically advanced for its time, boasting an electric book elevator, central vacuuming system, steam heat and electrical lighting supplemented by large plate glass windows, skylights and frosted-glass lay lights. A century later, many of those features were problems—too much light and unpredictable humidity were damaging to the collections, and the cost to heat and cool the building to modern standards was unsustainable. Careful feasibility studies laid out plans for new heating and cooling systems, as well as improved light control. Thanks to generous support from individuals, businesses and foundations, the museum was able to meet these programmatic needs without visible alternation of its signature interior and exterior features.
A new forced air system uses the building’s original ductwork to provide the building’s first climate controlled environment. A thermal barrier was hidden between the lay lights and the skylights, and innovative LED sheets were inserted to provide light that can be adjusted to mimic changing natural light or entirely turned off in areas where sensitive collections are housed.
Though largely invisible, these changes are making a big difference for visitors, for the collections, and for the Society’s bottom line. This well-executed project will have a big impact on the future of the Historical Society.
Rehabilitation of the Lang Blacksmith Shop, Newmarket
AECm Architects Engineers
NH Division of Historical Resources
Combining strong preservation practices with environmentally sound construction principles, this project brought new life to a long-vacant building along the Lamprey River in downtown Newmarket, and contributes to the impressive renaissance of this former mill town.
The large utilitarian building was built in 1891 and operated as a blacksmith shop until 1941; it is a rare survivor of its type and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tim Nichols purchased the building and oversaw all aspects of its transformation to house his architecture and engineering firm on the ground floor and high performance luxury apartments on the upper levels. Nichols followed the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation and secured federal preservation tax credits for the work. Historic photos were used when designing window placement, siding and other exterior features.
The entire building was temporarily lifted (four feet) to replace the failing foundation and to level the structure. The building surpasses LEED Platinum standards of the United States Green Building Council and it is ENERGY STAR certified. Utilizing passive house construction methods, a wood pellet boiler system, and an energy recovery system, the building uses 63% less energy than a new code compliant building. Rooftop gardens and on site infiltration basins help reduce harmful pollutants from entering the Lamprey River and nearby Great Bay. One of the oldest and largest surviving American Elm trees in New England was carefully preserved as the preservation work was underway.
Nichols also enhanced the existing Riverwalk, a popular walking trail along the river. If you think of the Newmarket waterfront as a necklace of beads, this project revived a tremendous, long-missing gem.
This year, Strawbery Banke Museum is receiving the Elizabeth Durfee Hengen award for its Heritage House Program. The awards is for excellence in preservation planning, education and advocacy; and it was established in 2000 as a tribute to Hengen when she completed her service as board chair of the Alliance to recognize her exceptional leadership, and generous contributions, to the strategic growth and development of the organization.
City of Portsmouth
The Decatur Trust
Thomas Haas Fund of New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
Samuel P. Hunt Foundation
The Montrone Family
Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund
Simchik Family Fund
Land and Community Heritage Investment Program
Strawbery Banke’s Heritage House Program is a great success and an excellent model for others around the state and country.
The Puddle Dock neighborhood was rescued from the poorly conceived urban renewal policies of the 1950s, and opened in the 1960s to tell the stories of New England seaport life across four centuries. Over the years, the museum has relied on the generous support of individuals and businesses but has faced increasing challenges in caring for more than 30 buildings, landscape features and collections while providing innovative public programming.
This multi-year initiative reclaimed and rehabilitated empty or underutilized buildings to provide both additional museum space and revenue-producing apartments and offices. With this new business model, developed under the leadership of CEO Larry Yerdon, approximately $3 million has been invested in ten 18th and early 19th century structures. Approximately 25 new tenants bring vibrancy to the museum, and provide market-rate rental income that goes toward maintaining the houses and supporting museum operations.
In-kind and cash support for this project was impressive. While Strawbery Banke Museum already enjoyed a prominent spot in the preservation movement history book for its big “save” in the 1950s, this new venture deserves its own new chapter.
May is Preservation Month!
May is Preservation Month! Here are five ideas of how to engage, enjoy and celebrate our state's many examples, and long-standing tradition, of preservation activity.
1. Take care of your old home. Take the time to evaluate repair needs this spring. An energy audit can also help you prioritize investments. Get ready for the next cold season with properly-installed insulation in your attic and basement. “Re-tuning” old windows keeps cold air out and preserves original features of an old house. Improve your skills or ability by reading up on techniques on our web-site or with a book in our bookstore. Visit our online Directory of Preservation Products & Services for contractor and business listings. Sign up for our Old House & Barn email network to receive early program and workshop notifications.
2. 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, and consider planning tools like easements and tax incentives to turn a challenge into an opportunity. Visit your local historical society to learn the history of your town.
3. Be an advocate for preserving our heritage. Volunteer to serve on your local planning board, library board, cemetery commission, heritage commission, or downtown organization. Help with a local preservation project, or enjoy dinner in an old inn or theater in a historic venue. Talk to your legislator about the benefits of the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, New Hampshire's popular and effective matching grants program for historic preservation and land conservation projects. Buy a “Moose Plate” conservation license plate. E-mail the Preservation Alliance to receive preservation news updates.
4. Be inspired by others. Come hear stories of small towns accomplishing big goals, preservation innovation and old farm re-use success stories at our free Preservation Achievement Awards celebration on May 10 in Concord.
5. Support the Preservation Alliance by becoming a member or renewing your support. Give to local preservation efforts.
Preservation activity creates local jobs and keeps more money circulating in local economies than new construction, and is part of the landscape that attracts visitors and businesses to New Hampshire. For you, this year, it also can be an activity that makes you feel good and connects you to special places, old friends and new ones.
Barn Preservation Incentive Use Rises
Alstead, Boscawen and Chichester and Tuftonboro have joined a group of towns and cities using the state's tax incentive program to encourage historic barn preservation. RSA 79-D authorizes towns and cities to grant property tax relief to barn owners who can demonstrate the public benefit of preserving their barn or other older farm buildings, and agree to maintain them throughout a minimum 10-year preservation easement. According to data collected by the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration, by the close of 2015, 90 communities and over 500 historic structures were enrolled in the program for an over 5% increase since last year. Deerfield and Freedom lead the state with the number of structures protected at 19 each. Plainfield has 18, and Cornish and Kensington tied for third at 17 each. Alton, Concord, Fitzwilliam, Henniker, Hopkinton, Kingston, Lee, Loudon, Lyme, New Boston, Orford, Sandwich and Weare all have ten or more structures aided and protected.
“We are encouraged that the use of the barn tax incentive program continues to grow,” said Beverly Thomas, Program Director, New Hampshire Preservation Alliance. “People across the state and their municipal leaders understand the significance of these historic structures, the opportuneties to continue to use them in creative ways, 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 minimum of a 10-year renewable easement. In return, the local selectboard 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, is encouraged by the continued growth of the program but also noted 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." He commented that municipalities with strong barn preservation advocates or an active heritage commission or other group that helps guide selectboards or city councils make a big difference in the use of this tool.
April 15 is the annnual deadline for new applications as well as renewals. 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 www.revenue.nh.gov/forms/2010/documents/pa-36a.pdf.
Additional features of the comprehensive barn preservation initiative directed by the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources and the Historic Agricultural Structures Advisory Committee include barn assessment grants, publications, tours and workshops, an information network, and a voluntary survey program. 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 Trends, Old Friends at Expo
Understanding repair and restoration techniques and being inspired by local craftsmen were top priorities for the over 3,000 people that attended the N.H. Preservation Alliance’s Old House & Barn Expo in Manchester in mid-March. Attendees also sought strategies to improve energy efficiency and manage moisture and foundation issues in old homes and barns. If you'd like a copy of the Show Guide, which features Expo exhibitors, email email@example.com.
Preservation Alliance board member and Expo sponsor Sue Booth of Vintage Kitchens noticed a new wave of young, old house owners at this year’s show. Young people are finding good financial and social values in older homes, she said. Steve Bedard of Bedard Restoration and Preservation, another Expo sponsor, is enthusiastic about the trend and noted that young people are understanding that old house living is healthy for residents (less breakdown of synthetic materials) and the environment (smaller carbon footprint). With the boomerang generation to accommodate, old houses provide lots of space and flexibility. Old buildings also can be divided up, offering “micro” home possibilities.
Other New Hampshire Preservation Alliance representatives were very pleased to see expanding interest in traditional arts like timber framing, wood turning, weaving and rug hooking and the large number of new attendees. “It’s reassuring and inspiring to see growing commitment in this era of rapidly growing technology and uncertain futures,” said Beverly Thomas, program director of the N.H. Preservation Alliance. “Older and younger people seem drawn to these beautiful and practical items that use local materials.” She added that people’s desire for practical solutions, interest in “going local,” and affection for special places like summer camps, meetinghouses and old farms, is rising and fueling growth in the preservation movement.
Attendees visited exhibits and attended the lectures on topics such as how to fix a stone foundation or repair drafty old windows, historic garden styles, and what to do to repair an old chimney. Attendees often brought in photos and plans, and were able to talk through their problems with over 100 experts.
The Old House & Barn Expo is held every other year; the next expo will be in the spring of 2018.
The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance is the statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic buildings, communities and landscapes through leadership, education and advocacy. Owners of old properties and leaders of community preservation projects give high marks for Alliance resources, workshops, awards program, Seven to Save endangered list, and behind-the-scenes tours of historic properties. The Preservation Alliance works year-round helping community groups advance local preservation projects, promoting funding for the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, old house and barn preservation, and the use of easements are its current priorities. For more information, contact the Alliance at (603) 224-2281 or www.nhpreservation.org.
Generous event sponsors are Bedard Preservation & Restoration, Ian Blackman, LLC Restoration and Preservation, First Period Colonial Preservation and Restoration, the N.H. State Council on the Arts, N.H. Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, First Period Colonial, Vintage Kitchens, Ahlgren and Son Builders, Arnold M. Graton Associates, Fifield Building Restoration & Relocation, LLC, Innerglass Window Systems, Preservation Timber Framing, ReVision Energy, Rumford Stone, Swenson Granite Works, Antique Homes Magazine, Louis Karno & Company, N.H. Home, N.H. Public Television and WMUR-TV.
Wins and Losses at Town Meeting
There was alot of good news for preservation projects at this season's Town Meeting, and some disappointments.
The Sullivan County town of Acworth, which has already restored a number of its historic structures, voted $5000 to match an LCHIP grant of an equal amount for the repair of the historic Horse Sheds behind the meetinghouse. What helped tip the scales is that one bay of the horse sheds will be enclosed to provide a secure home in which to display the town-owned historic hearse.
The town of Belmont defeated a proposal to raze the historic Gale School and approved an advisory non-binding motion which authorized the school district to transfer the building to the Save Our Gale School Committee, and pursue a plan to relocate it to school district property at Concord Street and Memorial Drive in Belmont.
The town of Enfield voted to convey the religious burial ground known as the Shaker Cemetery to the Enfield Shaker Museum. The Shaker cemetery is one of very few in the country with its original headstones still in place, and had been given to Town when the Shakers closed their community in 1923. The Museum is looking forward to having a survey done of the property to determine the exact bounds of the cemetery and to developing new interpretive materials about the site for visitors.
In the Lakes Region, Wolfeboro voted to create a Heritage Commission and also adopted RSA 79-E, the community revitalization tax incentive. They are the twenty-ninth town in the state to approve of the use of this preservation incentive, and are hoping that the new owners of the Pickering House (Seven to Save 2015) will be the first to make use of the tax credits.
The Stratham Heritage Commission’s hard work to protect the historic Lane Homestead (Seven to Save 2015) as it transitions to a new owner paid off in a vote to set up a $250,000 Heritage Preservation Fund, a capital reserve fund designated for "preserving historical properties and cultural resources." This would provide the matching funds for a recent LCHIP grant that would support a planned preservation easement on the Lane property.
Elsewhere in the seacoast, Hampton voters defeated a proposal to spend $ 25 million for renovation of the historic Hampton Academy (1939). In Rye, where renovation of the town hall was also on the ballot last year, additional choices were offered to voters this year. The purchase of nearby land for future use was defeated, raising $60,000 to continue studying options for Town Hall was defeated, and a petition to see if the town would vote to consider alternative town office designs was also defeated by a narrow margin. The one article that passed was a petitioned one to support options for the Town Hall that would include saving the historic building, which received Seven to Save designation last October.
Several articles regarding the renovation of the vacant Bradford Town Hall (Seven to Save 2014) went down to close defeat. A request for $1.3 million to provide a “completely operational first floor for town offices and meeting rooms, and a second floor that meets building code standards for assembly occupancy” would have been offset by $325,000 to be raised by donations and grants, but it failed by a very narrow margin. Another article requested $95,000 for a Town Hall Repair and Restoration Fund, but it too went down to defeat.
The Preservation Alliance would like to know results of historic preservation voting in your town. We know that a few places have yet to hold their town meetings, so please share your results with us as they become available. Contact Maggie Stier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-224-2281.
Lessons from Downton Abbey
The Preservation Alliance staff enjoyed season 6 of Downton Abbey, both as a period romance and for the on-going drama of running such a huge house and grand estate. Yes, there are “lessons to be learned” for our own day to day historic preservation activity:
Big, old houses can feel like a lot of work and expense. At the auction of a neighboring estate, the Crawleys are warned “Don’t wait till it’s too late for you.” We are rooting for the Crawley family and the downstairs staff amidst changing economic conditions. The good news is we bet your house isn’t as expensive to run as Downton Abbey. Keep up with maintenance or big projects by developing phased projects; the Preservation Alliance has referrals and information to help.
Preservation maintains the old but accepts the new. Historic preservation activity is all about celebrating the history of a place, and innovations that will keep a building in use for future generations are encouraged! If the Crawleys asked for our help to explore ways to sustain Downton, we’d share lots of ideas and examples that might be a match for their goals and situation. Shared uses, new business models, tools like easements and tax incentives are possible aids when a landmark structure needs a boost to remain or regain viability.
Preservation activity supports local jobs. In the first episode of the third season, Crawley family members speak of the importance of their role as employer, how maintaining their estate is critical to the lives of so many people. Hiring an energy auditor, window repairer, painter or someone to fix the sills in your barn is good for your old house and it’s good for your local economy, keeping more money in local circulation than new construction. (Our Directory is a good place to start.)
Give us a call 224-2281 or email email@example.com if we can help!
Lancaster Project Receives LCHIP support
An effort to preserve Lancaster’s iconic, historic and highly-visible House of Seven Gables (1858; ca.1867) through the purchase of a perpetual conservation easement got a major boost today thanks to a grant from the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP). More on the grant awards here.
Located at 129 Main Street, the house got its familiar name because of its distinctive gables that are visible from the south. The house’s first owner was a prominent lawyer, civic and business leader and his home represents an era of prosperity and growth for the county seat of Lancaster.
The building is across the street from Centennial Park which is used for farmers’ markets, Fourth of July ceremonies and band concerts, and the Weeks Library (National Register). Adjacent to the building are the small Cross Memorial Park and a small Greek Revival House (133 Main Street). Nearby on Main Street are several nineteenth century churches and a historic cemetery.
North of 129 Main Street, several historic houses have been altered or demolished. The most recent demolitions were two houses that were replaced by a Family Dollar store. Such demolitions have been a call to action for the community to protect its 19th century historic character and to meet the Town's Master Plan goal of preserving Main Street buildings.
A preservation easement is similar to a conservation easement, but it protects historic features instead of open space or natural resources. A preservation easement for 129 Main Street will prohibit demolition and certain alterations while allowing current and future property owners to use and adapt the building over time. The project team will be seeking community support to match the LCHIP grant and hope that this project will also spur efforts to preserve other Main Street buildings that are vulnerable to demolition or alteration. Project representatives are in conversation with the new owners of 133 Main Street about the easement tool as well. This a small Greek Revival house is most notable for its association with its longest owner, Colonel Henry Kent (1834-1909), who was a lawyer, owner of the Coos Republican, businessman, banker, politician, historian, recruiter during the Civil War, and civic leader.
The project team includes Alliance staff and several volunteers including Tim More, a part-time Lancaster resident; long-time Lancaster businessman Peter Powell; and Lise Moran, a recent graduate of Plymouth State University’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation and part-time Whitefield resident.
Peter Powell notes that the streetscape around 129 Main Street has changed little in the past 150 years: “The architecture, green spaces, parks, churches and period residential structures capture and proclaim the history, spirit and character of our town. Lose any of them, and we lose an essential element of that character and spirit. We would become a different place. That character, our character, is now reflected in our desire to preserve what is important here, to protect these structures and this place in a vital and significant way. We are thankful for the recognition and participation of LCHIP, the Preservation Alliance and community partners who join to make it possible. We know this example will inspire others both within and outside of our own community, and we are excited and uplifted by this news from LCHIP.”
“The effort to preserve historical ambiance of Lancaster's Main Street through a preservation easement is an excellent addition to current other activities celebrating Lancaster's stories of people and places. It is exciting to see LCHIP and others invest in preserving the region's heritage, ” Linda Upham-Bornstein, Ph.D, Former board member, N.H. Preservation Alliance and Lancaster resident. [See more on another current preservation venture in Lancaster at http://lancasterproject.blogs.plymouth.edu/]
The Preservation Alliance holds preservation easements on several historic properties throughout the state and as helped local groups and conservation colleagues develop and execute this stewardship tool. The Town of Stratham also received an LCHIP grant for a preservation easement; their target is the Samuel Lane Homestead which is listed on the National Register for Historic Places and currently for sale.
Thirty-two community projects receive LCHIP funding
Concord, NH— On December 15, 2015 the N.H. Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) announced 32 grants to meet preservation and conservation needs in communities across the state. Governor Maggie Hassan and Senator Jeanie Forrester spoke at the December 15 event to announce the news. Praising the recipients for their effective efforts at conserving important land and preserving significant historic buildings, the Governor reiterated the importance of land conservation and historic preservation to the state’s economy, environment, and quality of life. A list of grants by region is here. More on the program here.
LCHIP grant funding will help Historic New England’s Jackson House (1664) in Portsmouth, the oldest frame building in New Hampshire and Acworth’s horse sheds, one of only nine such structures remaining in the state. Once common, horse sheds provided a place to safely leave horses during church services and town meetings.
This year’s LCHIP grants will also help permanently conserve more than 5,000 acres of ecologically important land, including farm and forest land, wildlife habitat, land protecting NH’s water quality and supplies, and land providing iconic views and diverse recreational opportunities from hunting and fishing, to hiking, biking, and snowmobiling. Many of the conservation project grant recipients spoke of their projects historic and cultural values.
“Thanks to the support of governor and council, and both legislative branches, LCHIP is able to award significant monies to a number of projects this year,” stated Doug Cole of D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, Chair of the LCHIP Board of Directors. “Thirteen natural resource projects will conserve lands that will help insure access to local food, clean water, and a wide variety of recreational opportunities—as well as preserving the scenic and rural character of our great state. Nineteen historic buildings will be saved or revitalized because our New Hampshire state leaders have insured LCHIP funding remains available for its intended purpose.” Of the 19 preservation projects this round, the Preservation Alliance provided field services to nine, assessment grant to four and Seven to Save designation to four. Projects in Lancaster and Stratham include the Preservation Alliance as a project partner and preservation easement holder.
The New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program is an independent state authority that provides matching grants to New Hampshire communities and non-profits to protect and preserve the state’s most important natural, cultural, and historic resources. Its legislatively mandated mission is to ensure the perpetual contribution of these resources to the economy, environment, and the quality of life in New Hampshire. Up until the current grant round, 341 LCHIP grants have helped 143 New Hampshire communities conserve more than 278,000 acres of land and 180 historic structures and sites. The $36 million of state money invested in these projects has leveraged more than $234 million in funds from other sources. LCHIP grants are supported by fees on four documents recorded at the Registry of Deeds in every county of the state. For more information about LCHIP visit lchip.org or call (603) 224-4113.
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