Projects and people from Berlin to Nashua, and Peterborough to Portsmouth, were honored by the N.H. Preservation Alliance for outstanding preservation leadership and activity on May 31 at the Littleton Opera House.

The awards ceremony was culmination of a statewide conference exploring strategies to promote historic preservation and foster understanding of its relationship to health and well-being, community and economic development.

“In a world that is constantly changing, old places also provide people with a sense of being part of a continuum that is necessary for them to be psychologically and emotionally healthy.” said Thompson Mayes of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the keynote address.

A common thread shared by this year's honorees, according to the Preservation Alliance’s executive director Jennifer Goodman, is “high-quality investments that benefit New Hampshire citizens and stimulate additional community development.”

“The projects are all very complex,” she said. “Tenacity and creativity are key ingredients in their success.”

High-quality stewardship

  • Town of Hancock and First Congregational Church of Hancock for the restoration, rehabilitation and stewardship of the 1820 Hancock Meetinghouse. The anchor of a remarkable historic New Hampshire village, it is one of only two meetinghouses still owned jointly by the Town and church. The building’s first major renovation in 100 years was distinguished by thoughtful community and capital planning and innovative approaches in this town of just over 1,600.
  • Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion Commission and the State of New Hampshire, Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Bureau of Historic Sites for the restoration, rehabilitation and stewardship. A comprehensive window repair project for this rare home of New Hampshire’s royal governor led to other important preservation investments by this public/private partnership.
  • State of New Hampshire, Department of Transportation for the restoration, rehabilitation and stewardship of the Stewartstown Bridge. Metal truss bridges like this one are considered an “endangered species,” and this high quality preservation project maintains an important crossing.
  • Town of Washington for the restoration, rehabilitation and stewardship of the 1787 Washington Meetinghouse. One of only four 18th century meetinghouses in NH still used exclusively as town houses, it is the civic, emotional, and cultural heart of the town. The $1. 37 million sills-to-steeple rehabilitation was an impressive venture for this town of just over 1,000 people.

Transformative community development

  • Brady Sullivan Properties for the revitalization of 34 Franklin Street, Nashua as Lofts 34. The developer demonstrated creativity and tenacity in the redevelopment of a former Nashua Corporation mill building, one of the largest community and economic projects in downtown Nashua in recent years.
  • Post and Beam Brewing for the re-use of the GAR Hall. This Federal-style gem was transformed from a vacant building in disrepair to a microbrewery, enriching the community and economic vitality of Peterborough and the Monadnock Region.
  • Applied GeoSolutions for the rehabilitation and adaptive use of old town hall, Durham. Instead of a proposed demolition of these two c. 1860s joined in the 1970s, the company adapted them for a new use using federal historic preservation tax credits, a first for Durham.

Education and civic engagement

  • Berlin Historical Society for education and advocacy. In addition to stewarding a historic house as their headquarters on Main Street and providing access to the largest genealogical collection north of Manchester, this volunteer group has tackled the preservation of two barns that are important connection to the Brown Company’s logging for the paper mill industry, and a Brown family member’s efforts to introduce Arabian horse to the U.S..
  • Terry Knowles for outstanding contributions to the field of historic preservation. Assistant Director of Charitable Trusts for 37 year, and now working part-time, she has been an incredible educator on charitable issues and problem solver for historic cemeteries, grange halls, libraries and other special places.
  • Center Harbor Heritage Commission for their Heritage Inventory & Online Map Project. This project’s use of volunteers, community outreach and products were outstanding, and it catalyzed additional planning and preservation work.

“We welcome this opportunity to recognize outstanding projects while hopefully inspiring others,” said Goodman. “These are the kinds of places we can’t imagine New Hampshire without,” she said, “and we want to recognize the people who have worked to save and revive these landmarks.” It is the Alliance’s 30th year of honoring preservation achievement. After the awards program, attendees enjoyed a reception at the Littleton Community House, a 2018 award winner.

Goodman noted that the Washington Meetinghouse had been on the Alliance’s Seven to Save list of endangered properties in the past after failure to get enough “yes” votes at Town Meeting several years ago, and emphasized the tenacity of the private developers and community advocates as well as the importance of investments by the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), federal historic preservation tax credits, and other incentives in the projects.

Generous program sponsors include: Lavallee Bresinger Architects, North Branch Construction, Daniel Scully Architects, Kas-Bar Realty, Inc., Littleton Millwork, Inc., Norton Asset Management, Nobis Engineering, Petersen Engineering, Piscataqua Bank, Sash and Solder, Turnstone Corporation and Winn Mountain Restorations.

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance supports and encourages the revitalization and protection of historic buildings and places which strengthens communities and local economies.

Current priorities include providing assistance to community leaders, helping owners of long-held family farms and promoting the use of easements, barn preservation and tax incentives.