CENTER HARBOR — New Hampshire's history is inextricably tied to its agricultural past. For decades, innumerable barns dotted its landscape; now, our state's historic barns are being lost through neglect or actual tear-downs at the rate of nearly one every day.
Earlier this year, the Center Harbor Heritage Commission joined with the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance in its 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign to increase awareness of preserving historic barns. With the expert help of volunteer Rick Kipphut, who has a masters degree in Historical Preservation from Plymouth State University, the Commission launched a townwide effort to identify and survey barns built at least 50 years ago.
The Heritage Commission is very proud to announce that 15 historic barns have been surveyed so far. These include the 1770 Mead Farm barn on Center Harbor Neck Road, which is one of the oldest barns in town, the iconic 1876 Longwood Farm barn on Route 25 and the 1903 Keewaydin dairy barn with its unique tile silo on Route 25B. Over 20 barns are on the waiting list to be surveyed!
When completed, the barn survey will be added to Center Harbor's “Cultural and Historical Resources Inventory” as part of the process to update the Town's Master Plan.
Kipphut spends about three to four hours visiting each barn, making notes, taking photos and answering the owner's questions about the barn's construction, use, and history. Kipphut then compiles all of this information into a written report, which is shared with the barn owner. He also tells the owner about resources available to help with maintaining an historic barn, such as RSA 79-D. Created in 2002, RSA 79-D authorizes New Hampshire towns and cities to grant property tax relief to barn owners who can demonstrate the public benefit of preserving their barns, and agree to maintain the structures during a minimum 10-year preservation easement.
Over the next few weeks and weather-permitting, Kipphut will be out and about town, searching for more historic barns and knocking on the doors of their owners to introduce himself and talk about the barn survey. There is no cost for the survey and it is strictly voluntary.