Cupola and Energy Committees presented award for Academy Building Work (436)

GILMANTON — Gilmanton's Building, Cupola and Energy Committees were recognized for their work in preserving the Academy Building, now the Town Offices by the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance at an award ceremony on May 7. Also recognized were Fifield Building Restoration and Winn Mountain Restorations.
The award celebrates well-executed stewardship projects for this iconic landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and stands in the Gilmanton Corners Historic District. Well-articulated information about the building's significance, important features and preservation strategies convinced town leaders and citizens to choose restoration over replacement or "no action" alternatives. The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program and the N.H Community Development Finance Authority were critical funding partners.
Gilmanton Academy was chartered in 1794. The current 1894 building was built after a fire destroyed the previous structure just before centennial celebrations were to be held. The Academy had such prominence and was so revered by local citizens that fundraising began immediately after the fire and a new building was ready for students less than 8 months later.
The Academy's last class graduated in 1910, and from 1916 to 1966 the building was used first as the Town's high school, later as the elementary school, and still later as a museum.
Today, the Academy houses Town offices and provides space for voting, and for public meetings, dances, concerts and other social functions.
Two recent projects restored the cupola and weatherized the building. A committee that included former select board member Rachel Hatch led an effort to secure town and LCHIP funds for the cupola's restoration after the Town noticed deterioration in the tower, removed it, and stored in a town garage in 2008 without a clear plan of action. Fifield Building Restoration got it back in place in time for the traditional July 4th parade which stopped in front of the landmark to celebrate the cupola's return in 2011.
Most recently, a weatherization project, in coordination with the Town's energy committee, made the project more energy efficient. Steve Bedard donated a building assessment, and he and John Dickey coordinated proposals from outside contractors that restored 51 original windows and added insulation to ready the building for future generations.
The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance is the statewide membership organization dedicated to preserving historic buildings, communities and landscapes through leadership, education and advocacy. Current priorities include providing assistance to community leaders and promoting the use of easements, barn preservation and tax incentives.

Steve Bedard, former selectperson Rachel Hatch, and John Dickey worked with Town committees on projects to preserve the Gilmanton Academy Building (Town Offices). Their work was recognized by an award from the NH Preservation Alliance on May 8. (Courtesy photo)