Three cheers for often-overlooked historic preservation heroes: all you caretakers of old houses out there. When the snow melts, many will start a new list of annual maintenance and repair. That stewardship gives our communities character, and the work supports New Hampshire’s economy. And there are opportunities to do even more.
Studies show that labor-intensive old home repair and other kinds of historic preservation activity support well-paying jobs, enhance property values, and keep more money circulating locally than new construction. With the boomerang generation to accommodate, old houses also provide lots of space and flexibility. Old buildings also can be divided up, offering “micro” home possibilities that are popular in cities like Portsmouth and Concord as well as in rural areas.
These buildings are irreplaceable. Imagine our communities without those small, red capes standing on old farms; the rows of mid-19th century Greek revival homes with wonderful porticos leading in and out of villages centers, and the welcoming early and mid-20th century homes clustered outside of downtowns.
The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance’s Old House and Barn Expo, March 24-25, offers opportunities for old home owners and enthusiasts to collect information and inspiration. Looking ahead: Young buildings will soon be historic; about 40% of the housing stock in New Hampshire was built before 1970. N.H. RSA 79-E and accessory dwelling unit policies offer property owners of historic homes access to new incentives and opportunities. And long-time experts, and new generation of craftspeople, are eager to offer advice and assistance.
Jennifer Goodman, Executive Director, N.H. Preservation Alliance