To The Daily Sun,
Members of the Laconia Heritage Commission have had a losing battle trying to encourage the reuse of our significant historic dwellings. We witnessed the loss of the Tilton House, the Putnam House and the Baker House to parking lots. We are struggling to save the Hathaway House. We and others decided a stronger message needed to be presented to Cafua Management Co. LLC, owners of many Dunkin' Donuts stores in our community and the northeast. When they lost their lease across the street and purchased 1106 Union Avenue in Lakeport, including our beloved historic Hathaway House, the community led by the late Wanda Tibbetts, president of the Lakeport Community Association, responded and an agreement was made to restore the Hathaway House, not demolish it. We were all pleased with this decision.
However, it was very short-lived when Cafua submitted plans for not only a new Dunkin' Donuts store but a strip mall requiring the demolition of the Hathaway House. It was obvious that they lied and we had to spring into action again. Fortunately, "Save the Hathaway" supporters were also supported by the Laconia City Council and the Laconia Planning Department and Planning Board.
Again, they promised to restore the building and research was completed to paint it the original colors. They started removing the paint without following environmental guidelines for removal of lead paint. They stopped and left the wood vulnerable to the elements. There is no working electricity or sprinkler system in the building. The building was placed on the market. Some made attempts to inquire about the sale of the property but reached dead-ends. Often the "for sale" sign would be on the ground. This led many to believe that they did not intend to sell the building. We heard it was offered for a practice burn. Recently all of the windows were removed from the first floor and boarded up. Windows on the second floor were broken or left open. This all spells orchestrated deterioration to many. It is at this point that we feel they have no intent to sell but are planning to seek demolition through the Laconia Heritage Commission. Now they are saying they don't own the Hathaway House, that Laconia Real Estate Co. LLC does, but Cafua (Dunkin' Donuts franchiser) is listed as the agent.
We know there are many who support efforts to save the Hathaway House because you have spoken to us "over the fence". We decided our strong message must be witnessed by more and so we picketed Dunkin' Donuts last weekend. You gave use thumbs up, you tooted your horns, you responded on Facebook and you signed our petitions.
Please, go one step further and join us picketing to "Save the Hathaway" in front of Dunkin' Donuts at 1106 Union Avenue, Lakeport on Saturday and/or Sunday, November 23 and 24, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Stop in Laconia Antiques on Main Street to sign our petition.
Laconia Heritage Commission