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July 15. 2014 9:45PM

39-acre spread

17th-century Hett Farm to be auctioned in Portsmouth

The 39-acre Hett Farm property in Portsmouth will be auctioned at 6 p.m. July 30. The next open house at the farm, which includes horse barns, riding areas and a home that dates to 1810, is from 4 to 6 p.m. July 23. (MIKE LAWRENCE/Union Leader Correspondent)

PORTSMOUTH -- The first of two open houses at a 39-acre historic farm in Portsmouth drew more than 20 interested people Tuesday, ahead of the July 30 auction, an auctioneer said.

Chris McInnis, vice president of North Hampton-based real estate auctioneer and broker Paul McInnis, Inc., said about halfway into Tuesday morning’s open house at Hett Farm that “somewhat of a varied group” of potential bidders had stopped by to take in the broad pastures, outdoor riding areas, barns and colonial-style, two-story house that dates to 1810.

McInnis said the plot on Peverly Hill Road, near Route 1, has operated as a farm since it was owned by Thomas Walford in the 1600s and has been in the Hett family since 1940. Much of the property is under a conservation easement that restricts development, except for a portion of about 2 acres that includes the house, barns and a roughly rectangular area immediately surrounding them.

The barns can hold up to 17 horses. The property’s appraised value was more than $1.17 million as of 2012, according to online data from the Portsmouth Assessor’s Office.

“You’re only going to appeal to a certain type of buyer for a farm like this,” McInnis said. “A buyer that appreciates the conservation easement … and either has a personal use or a business use for the farm.”

McInnis asked that names of potential bidders who visited the farm Tuesday not be published.

One potential bidder, a Rochester resident who said he grew up in Portsmouth, expressed appreciation after taking a walk around.

“Much better than I thought it would be!” the man exclaimed, speaking to McInnis and auction manager Justin Conway. “There are some really nice architectural features inside the house.”

The three-bedroom home has about 2,700 square feet of living area, according to Portsmouth assessor’s data.

“It’s a really interesting place — it’s steeped in history,” the man said of Hett Farm, which has a large, fenced front pasture directly along Peverly Hill Road. “It’s been a landmark.”

Turkey and deer strolled around the edges of the property Tuesday, while Portsmouth resident Jane Meyer led her chestnut paint horse, Chrome, on a walk near one of the riding areas, where several other horses grazed. Meyer said she had boarded horses at Hett Farm since 2007.

McInnis said that the sprawling property has a rural air, even though downtown Portsmouth is just minutes away by car.

“You can’t find this (elsewhere) in Portsmouth,” McInnis said. “It really has an amazing feel out here.”

Paul McInnis, Inc., will hold a second open house at Hett Farm from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, and also is offering inspections by appointment. The auction is 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, at the farm. Only registered bidders are allowed to attend. A $50,000 deposit is required to bid.

Chris McInnis said the company also handled the 2008 sale of the 14-acre Towle Farm in Hampton to Smuttynose Brewing Co., the 2012 sale of the 184-acre Bakie Farm in Kingston, the 2012 sale of the Hobbs Farm in North Hampton, and others.

“It’s an emotional kind of property,” he said of Hett Farm. “For something like this, why wouldn’t it be? It’s very difficult to replicate.”

The potential bidder from Rochester took a moment Tuesday to gaze out at the back pastures before stepping into his truck.

“If you can walk out there and have your morning coffee, (it) doesn’t get much better,” he said appreciatively.


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