DANBURY — The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance recently released its 2019 Seven to Save list, highlighting the vulnerability of community life and economic well-being in small towns.
General stores, as well as the list’s historic home of U.S. poet laureate, railroad depot, church, social hall and village common landmark, are all associated with New Hampshire’s civic and cultural life. They play important roles in residents’ attachment to where they live, and the health of communities. When a village store closes, residents not only don’t have a place to get milk and the newspaper, but also lose a venue to discuss local issues and pay attention to how neighbors are doing.
All places on the list need transformative investment to become community assets again. “We need these places to survive and thrive,” said Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the Preservation Alliance, “These landmarks are the hearts and souls of our daily life.”
The populations of towns on 2019’s list range from 680 to 4,330. The list features a new group of endangered historic structures. General stores across the state, as well as a variety of homes round out the list.
Lower Gilmanton Baptist Church is included this year. A local group of community advocates hopes to build on their success with a nearby one-room schoolhouse as they prepare to tackle major structural deficiencies in this landmark building, one of the Lakes Region’s best preserved Greek Revival churches.
Also on the list are the Marsh House the former Chesterfield town offices, Ossipee Corner Depot, Marion Blodgett Museum in Stratford, the Glencliff Willing Workers Society Hall in Warren, and Eagle Pond Farm in Wilmot.
Preservation Alliance leaders also emphasized that saving places and small town character should be essential ingredients in statewide campaigns to attract the next big company, draw new visitors and support local businesses. “Our small-town character makes our state distinctive,” said Goodman. “The mix of our old with new building stock, as well as the character and scale of historic main street buildings, attract varied ages and types of people, help incubate small businesses and creates attachments to communities that boost economic vitality.”
Studies from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express show that young people crave authenticity and character in the places they live, work, and visit. Older neighborhoods offer more diverse and affordable housing options and historic downtowns provide incubator spaces for small new businesses. Historic buildings and streetscapes define communities, build community pride and engagement, attract families and tourists, foster artistic expression and provide greater property tax dollars per square foot than new construction. They are denser, walkable and served by existing infrastructure.
Seven to Save listings have helped attract new investment and re-use options for more than 50 percent of the community landmarks that have received the designation since the program began in 2006. Several projects have gone on to earn Preservation Achievement Awards in recent years, including Watson Academy in Epping, the Langdon Meetinghouse, Brewster Memorial Hall in Wolfeboro, Washington Meetinghouse, and the Littleton Community Center.
For more information about the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, visit www.nhpreservation.org.
Sponsors are Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, Pinnacle Leadership Foundation, Ingram Construction, Anagnost Companies, Chinburg Properties, Ciborowski Associates, Enviro-Tote, Irish Electric Corp., Meredith Village Savings Bank, Merrimack County Savings Bank, Milestone Engineering & Construction, Inc., Misiaszek Turpin Architects, Nathan Wechsler & Co., Littleton Millwork, TF Moran, and Udelsman Associates and Windows & Doors by Brownell.