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Endangered Property List Announced: highlights include historic family farms and two North Country sites




Kensington, NH:  The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance announced today  its 2014 Seven to Save list of threatened historic landmarks from throughout the state that are significant and worthy of preservation. A bonus 8th listing this year focuses on historic family-owned farms and agricultural landscapes statewide.  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. 


This year, listees include town halls in the neighboring towns of Bradford and Washington, the historic Watson Academy in Epping, the Hill-Lassonde house opposite Manchester’s Bronstein Park, and Hopkinton’s Kimball Lake Cabins.  In Coos County, the Poore Family Farm in Stewartstown and the Brown Company House in Berlin made the list. 


According to Seven to Save chair Hunter Ulf, “The Preservation Alliance’s annual list of threatened or endangered historic places has posted some great results in past years, and we hope this year’s projects will gain new support as a result of this recognition.”


Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner of the N.H. Department of Agriculture, Markets and Foods, spoke on behalf of historic family farms.  The owner of a historic farm herself, she noted that New Hampshire has, over the last 25 years, lost one out of four acres of prime farmland to development—and about 1 out of 3 acres in the seacoast.  Solutions include more farm-friendly land use policies, direct marketing and conservation efforts. “Farms and farming activity contribute to the rural character so prized in New Hampshire communities. We hope that this designation will foster creative efforts to support farms, farmers and farm buildings in a powerful coalition,” she said.


Loss of population, not growth, has affected the two North Country properties on the Seven to Save list.  The Brown Company House in Berlin, believed to be the oldest wood frame building in the city, was a central part of the history of mills and logging in Berlin, but suffers from a long list of needed repairs.  Likewise, the Poore Family Farm Museum in Stewartstown needs more visitors and more financial support to preserve its early house and barn and fulfill its potential as a place to learn about life without electricity, indoor plumbing, or other modern conveniences.


Historic Town Halls in Bradford and Washington garnered Seven to Save nods because of the challenges in obtaining voter-approved funding for upgrades that would bring the buildings into code compliance and allow re-opening of now-shuttered second floor halls for plays, meetings, and community gatherings.  Epping’s Watson Academy, a rare Queen Anne style school building, needs town support for a simple plan to address damage caused by a minor earthquake.  Kimball Lake Cabins, a lakeside resort building during the Depression and now owned by the town of Hopkinton, needs support for building rehabilitation and a new plan for sustainable uses.  A bank-owned Italianate style home in Manchester, opposite a city park, made the list because of its vulnerability to vandalism and squatters.


Before the announcement, the Preservation Alliance held its annual meeting and offered a walking and driving tour of selected historic buildings in Kensington in conjunction wit the Kensington Historical Society.  “We chose to hold this year’s announcement in Kensington because it’s a great example of preservation in action,” said Maggie Moody Stier of the Preservation Alliance. In 2012, the Kensington Town Hall was named to Seven to Save, and since then, improvements have been made to return it to town use.  Granges, statewide, made the Seven to Save list in 2013.  Kensington’s former Grange hall hosted the Seven to Save announcement event, and was recently repainted thanks to a generous private donor. 


Since 2006, when the Seven to Save program began, over 30 properties have moved from “threatened” to “saved” or out of danger.  Major successes include Pandora Mill in Manchester, the restored Acworth Meetinghouse, and the Mill Pond Dam in Durham.  The Balsams in Dixville Notch and XXX still have uncertain futures. 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. 


Seven to Save program sponsors include The Lewis Family Foundation; Anagnost Companies; Ian Blackman LLC; Milestone Engineering & Construction; Christopher P. Williams Architects PLLC;  HEB Engineers; Lavallee/Brensinger Architects; TMS Architects; Preservation Company, and Ned Tate, Tate & Foss/Sotheby’s.


The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance is the statewide membership organization dedicated to preserving historic buildings, communities and landscapes through education, resources and advocacy.  For more information, visit www.nhpreservation.org.