Historic Portsmouth cottage saved by family foundation

Carey Cottage at Creek Farm.

PORTSMOUTH — A historic Portsmouth cottage in danger of being demolished will be saved.

Officials at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests have announced that they have reached an agreement with a local family foundation on a long-term lease of the Carey Cottage at Creek Farm.

Under the agreement, the family foundation will provide funding for Carey Cottage’s renovation, including the Music Room. Chinburg Properties in Newmarket will do the work, according to an announcement published online Thursday.

The family foundation’s principals, who were not named, plan to use the property for the headquarters of a newly created center dedicated to fostering the growth and success of non-profit organizations.

“The key to saving the Carey Cottage has always been finding a partner with the means to restore it, a proposed use that complements Creek Farm’s status as a conserved space open to the public, and a track record that suggests they can maintain the building over time,” said Jane Difley, president of the Forest Society.

Eric Chinburg, founder of Chinburg Properties, said he looks forward to renovating the Carey Cottage and making it work for the community.

“We take pride in our ability to repurpose unique buildings while maintaining public use of the surroundings,” Chinburg said in a statement.

Creek Farm provides public access to the Sagamore Creek waterfront.

Leaders at Portsmouth Advocates have been working to save the building and two demolition review hearings were held in Portsmouth about Carey Cottage since the announcement of its possible demolition was made in February.

Preservationists say the cottage is an outstanding example of the summer home movement in New Hampshire and a rare survivor of the artistic colony at Little Harbor. It also played a vital role in the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth as the Carey family entertained Russian and Japanese diplomats at Creek Farm during negotiations at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

“We are heartened by the Forest Society’s announcement and are fully supportive of a reuse that maintains this significant historic building," Kerry Vautrot of Portsmouth Advocates said in a statement Thursday night.
"Our hopes are high that this partnership will work, but our excitement is tempered by the fact that the Forest Society is still pursuing the demolition permit. Portsmouth Advocates remains ready to help the Forest Society and their future partners by providing technical historic preservation expertise and assisting them in navigating opportunities for potential preservation-focused grants.”