New Hampshire Preservation Alliance Announces 2023 Seven to Save List: Safeguarding Historic Landmarks + Community Benefits
CONCORD, N.H.: The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance’s 2023 Seven to Save list announced today includes five properties on the National Register of Historic Places, and one in a local historic district. Trends accelerated by the pandemic and changes in ownership, as well as demolition and deterioration, are threats to these historic landscapes, buildings and structures.
Community input and research is needed for the list’s one unusual thematic listing of a post-Civil War property type that exists statewide. One listee is a major visual and historic feature of one of New Hampshire’s 13 cities, and three of the properties stand in communities with fewer than 2,500 residents.
“This year’s list highlights vulnerable, irreplaceable historic landmarks as well as opportunities to provide needed housing and other community and economic benefits,” said Andrew Cushing, community preservation services manager for the Preservation Alliance.
Here are descriptions of each:
Effingham, Lord’s Tavern
This c.1790 house, ell, attached barn, and additional detached barn anchor the Lords Hill village in Effingham (population 1,700). The imposing property is a contributing building in a national register district and the locally designated historic district.
In 2023, the town acquired the property for back taxes and now must navigate a responsible way to ensure its protection, whether through an auction, RFP process, or by holding onto it for the lawful duration of three years. Preservation Alliance leaders note that this property is part of a trend of large under-utilized or vacant houses that could help address housing shortage in small but meaningful ways.
Boscawen, King Street
This historic stretch of Routes 3 and 4, known as King Street, developed on “the Plains” between the late 1700s and early 1800s. The 1.25-mile corridor is perhaps one of the densest collections of Federal houses in New Hampshire, outside Portsmouth.
Unfortunately, development pressure has eroded the historic character of Boscawen’s village and the Town is struggling with balancing expected new uses and new investment with the architectural and land use elements that offer predictability and underlying character for citizens, businesses and visitors. A village overlay district calls for retention of historic fabric but has fallen short of its goals.
Orford, Congregational Church
A spectacular architectural gem, the gothic revival Orford Congregational Church was built in 1855 and is a contributing building to the Orford National Register District. After a congregational “restart” in 2007 following a ceiling collapse – which included extensive interior and exterior restoration – the congregation now finds itself with no minister, five active members, and two churches to maintain.
A 2023 warrant article at town meeting charged an ad hoc group with developing a plan torecommend a possible sale to the town and reuse options, including a community center, library, senior center, or arts/events space. The Preservation Alliance notes that this church is one of many struggling with limited membership and resources post-pandemic.
Franklin, Trestle Bridge
The future of this unique downtown landmark is uncertain with City interests discussing both demolition and re-use. Built in 1890 for the Franklin and Tilton Railroad, the trestle’s four spans cross the Winnipesaukee River at the eastern edge of downtown and is part of the Franklin Falls National Register District.
An engineering study for the city recommended condemning the structure due to structural concerns. But local advocates believe it can be rehabilitated and used as a viewing platform and pedestrian walkway for the whitewater park developing downtown.
An additional bridge upstream from the trestle is a National Register-listed Sulphite/Upside Down bridge, owned by DOT. This bridge suffered from an act of arson in the 1980s and has remained vulnerable since.
Plainfield, Town Hall and Maxfield Parrish Stage Set
Inside the National Register-listed town hall – itself a 1796 meetinghouse renovated/rebuilt in 1846 – is a stage set like no other in New Hampshire. In 1916, Cornish Colony artist and Plainfield resident, Maxfield Parrish, was hired to develop a stage set for the town hall. The resulting backdrops and lighting sequence create a highly-memorable dawn-to-dusk experience.
Conservation work in the 1990s mitigated some mold, mildew, and tears, but more work is needed in a town hall that experiences great swings in temperature and humidity. A town hall committee is looking holistically at the town hall – from foundation issues to fire prevention and systems upgrades, all with the significant stage set in mind.
Enfield, La Salette Shrine / Shaker Village North Family
This listing recognizes the Enfield Shaker Museum’s recent purchase of the property adjacent to the Museum to protect the Shrine’s properties and prevent loss of historic resources and incompatible development. To be successful, they need substantial funds, creative partners and vibrant re-uses.
The Enfield Shaker Village was sold in 1927 to a Catholic order, the Missionaries of La Salette. Starting in the 1980s, tracts of land were placed under conservation and historic buildings were acquired by the nascent Enfield Shaker Museum.
On September 30, La Salette ended their nearly 100-year involvement with the site along the shores of Lake Mascoma, offering a rare opportunity for the Shaker Museum toreconnect with the adjacent “North Family” settlement. This 28-acre parcel includes five Shaker buildings (including a brick Trustees Office, barns, and a granite laundry/dairy building), two Catholic chapels, and a shrine known for its annual Christmas lights display.
Statewide – Tramp Houses and Lock-Ups
Between the 1870s and the 1930s, towns were required to care for vagrants or tramps – a by-product of the Civil War disruption and various panics/depressions. Towns would construct these simple buildings that contained cots and stoves (sometimes jail cells, if serving dual purpose), and were mandated by the state to provide food rations. These social services were itemized in town reports during this era.
Several tramp houses remain in New Hampshire, although there has been no contextual history of the building type, or the social history of the people who occupied them. Several towns are working to restore these buildings independent of each other, including Weare, Errol, Richmond, Grafton, Hill, and Kingston. Many others likely exist but have since been converted into storage sheds.
Since 2006, the Preservation Alliance's annual Seven to Save list has helped attract attention and resources to irreplaceable landmarks around the state. More than half are now considered out of danger or saved. Many owners and advocates for the former listees used the designation to help develop new solutions and secure new investments. Many places are in the process of rehabilitation, while others continue to need significant additional help. A few have been lost. Criteria for selection include: historical significance, imminence of threat, and potential impact of listing a site.
To see the list, check www.nhpreservation.org or send an email to[email protected] to receive the news by email.
Generous program sponsors include: Anagnost Companies; Chinburg Properties; Hutter Construction; and Ingram Construction Corporation. Arnold M. Graton Associates; Cedar Mill Group; The Duprey Companies; Erie Landmark Company: Paul W. Zimmerman Foundaries; Dennis Mires, P.A., The Architects; SMP Architecture and Savings Bank of Walpole. Alba Architects, LLP; Altus Engineering, Inc.; Arch Weathers Historic SashWorks, LLC; Banwell Architects, Inc. Enviro-Tote, Inc.; Jim Fafard Custom Carpentry, LLC; Misiaszek Turpin, PLLC; Nobis Engineering, Inc; Samyn-D’Elia Architects; Stibler Assocations; Udelsman Associates, Window and Doors by Brownell.
The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance supports and encourages the revitalization and protection of historic buildings and places which strengthens communities and local economies. Information on programs, planning grants and more available at www.nhpreservation.org.