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Canterbury Shaker Village Completes $250,000 Repair of Turning Mill Pond Dam

The Board of Trustees of Canterbury Shaker Village is pleased to announce completion of a major project to reconstruct an earthen dam and preserve the waters of Turning Mill Pond, the most prominent of the nine mill ponds that the Shakers built in the early 19th century. 

The NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) awarded the Village a grant of $97,300 in 2018.  Recipients are required to raise a minimum of one dollar for each dollar provided by LCHIP and Canterbury Shaker Village exceeded that amount. The Town of Canterbury contributed $25,000, and the Hunt Foundation gave $25,000. Additional grants were received from the Globe Community Fund and the Hartford Foundation.  Individual donors generously gave over $100,000 to complete the funding.  The N.H. Preservation Alliance had named Turning Mill Pond to its Seven to Save list in 2018.

“This is a significant milestone for the Village,” said Jean Halloran, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “We became aware this work was needed back in 2010.  We are indebted to former director Susan Bennett for organizing and managing all aspects of this project starting in 2017 and seeing it through to its completion earlier this year.  We also extend our thanks to architectural historian James Garvin, one of our Trustees, for preparing, pro bono, the required Historic Resources Report and assuring all work met the standards of the NH Dam Bureau and the NH Division of Historical Resources.” 

The dam reconstruction project was engineered by Milone and McBroom, of Bedford, NH, with significant additional time rendered as a donation by engineer Eric Teale.

Andrews Construction of Campton carried out the work of rebuilding the dam. They also reconstructed another spillway on the east side of the pond and replaced the intake structure for the Village’s fire suppression system, a late add-on to the project.  A pump at the pond and hydrants in the Village provide water for the town to fight fires throughout East Canterbury.

Once work got underway in late December, contractors were on-site for about two months.  They drained the pond and partially dismantled the existing dam, taking great care not to disturb the historic Shaker dam of 1817 that had been bypassed by the modern replacement in 1987.  It was this replacement that had failed and needed to be rebuilt.

Turning Mill Pond is the most prominent remaining feature of the Shaker mill system, readily seen from the Village and part of a two-mile long man-made system of dams, dikes, channels and mills begun by the Shakers in 1800.  All told, the Shakers built fourteen different mills that produced a range of goods including wooden products, textiles, lumber, and flour. None of these mill buildings survive today.

Even though Village buildings are currently closed right now due to COVID-19, the Village is open for walking and quiet enjoyment.  A gate just off Asby Road on the south side of the Village marks a small parking area for hiker access.  The walkway across the top of the dam will be maintained as one component of the Village’s extensive system of public hiking trails, including a trail that circumnavigates Turning Mill Pond.  Interpretive signs with historic photographs and information about Shaker industries and manufacturing technology will be installed later this year, made possible by a grant from the Madelaine vonWeber Trust.  The adjacent 1817 stone dam will be kept free of vegetation so it is visible as a Shaker-built artifact. 

Canterbury Shaker Village is dedicated to preserving the 200-year legacy of the Canterbury Shakers and to providing a place for learning, reflection, and renewal of the human spirit.  It includes nearly 700 acres of forests, fields, gardens and ponds, as well as 25 original and 4 reconstructed Shaker buildings.  For more information visitwww.shakers.org or call 603-783-9511.

The New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program is an independent state authority created by the legislature in 2000 with a legislative mandate is to ensure the perpetual contribution of natural, cultural and historic resources to the economy, environment, and quality of life in New Hampshire. LCHIP provides matching grants to New Hampshire communities and non-profits to conserve and preserve the state’s most important natural, cultural and historic resources. The program has provided 466 grants which have helped to conserve more than 290,000 acres of land for food production, water quality, ecological values, timber management and recreation and supported 280 projects to rehabilitate historic structures and sites. Grants have been awarded in all parts of the state and in 167 of New Hampshire’s 234 communities. Forty-six million dollars of state money has led to a total project value of more than $317 million. The money for LCHIP grants comes from 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 Completed Dam EarlyApril

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