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Joyce Endee

On a roll

1772 Meetinghouse secures LCHIP grant

December 04, 2012
NEW DURHAM — At a press conference at the Legislative House in Concord on Monday, State Rep. David Hess said the announcement of the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) grant recipients was a "day of celebration for the recipients, those who participated in the process and the whole LCHIP community."

If the faces on the 1772 Meetinghouse Restoration Committee members are any indication, the news of its project being one of only 18 applications out of 51 that were awarded was well met and ready to be celebrated.

"We're on a roll," said Ann Kelley. "This grant was vital to us to really get moving." Coming off the high of the Meetinghouse being designated one of the Seven to Save resources in the state by the NH Preservation Alliance, the committee expressed delight regarding the LCHIP award. "It puts us one step closer," Kelley went on. "Once the building is stabilized, we can leverage even more help toward completing the overall project."

Bob Craycraft agreed. "With the credibility of our new status, the guidance of the NH Preservation Alliance, our increased visibility for successful fundraising, this LCHIP grant and the opportunity for more funds from granting authorities, we are in the best position possible to complete the goal of those dedicated volunteers of a few decades ago. "

Maggie Stier, field representative of the NH Preservation Alliance, met with the committee soon after the Seven to Save announcement to ensure it hit the ground running. Kathleen King, who has applied to serve on the committee, attended that meeting. "She speaks the 'preservation' language," committee chair Cathy Allyn said of King, referring to King's background of graduate work in History of Architecture, seven years working at the Clark House in Wolfeboro as tour director and a degree in Preservation Work, which includes a study course at Strawbery Banke. "She brings an expertise that melds with the Preservation Alliance," Allyn said.

For her part, King indicated the meeting was productive, and that Stier's emphasis on a feasibility study "should be first and foremost." King is optimistic that her past work with interns and community interest groups will play an important role in achieving the committee's objectives.

"Having the building help pay for itself is an element that preservationists consider in the beginning of the process," Allyn said.

"It's commonly accepted that the Meetinghouse is historically significant on so many levels," said committee consultant Mark Foynes. "So there's definitely value in preserving the property; of even greater value to the citizens of New Durham will be to identify ways we can permanently preserve the property while it serve the needs of the wider community." Foynes noted that the committee is eager to receive citizen input on how the building's interior and adjacent lot can benefit the town in innovative ways. "A great way to preserve the past is to come up with creative ways to adapt historic resources to our needs today," Foynes said.

Allyn said an informal luncheon after the LCHIP awards announcement proved to be fertile ground for networking. "We made contact with several groups that have gone through what we're experiencing now. Ideas began bouncing around immediately. Our group can certainly benefit from what others have done, and we plan to take advantage of it."

With this grant, the stabilization and foundation repairs needed to complete this phase of the overall restoration is short approximately $13,000. "The townspeople have consistently contributed money to the Capital Reserve Fund established for this purpose," Craycraft said. "Hopefully that will continue to happen, which would give us a boost. With some active fundraising and private donations we could be looking at another completed phase by the end of next year."

"LCHIP is a tremendous program," Allyn said. "There's quite an emphasis on stewardship and it's another source of professional assistance for us."

On Monday, Steir said LCHIP provides "good guidelines for going forward with projects."

Allyn said the committee was "thankful to have received this preeminent stamp of approval" and was looking forward to a productive partnership.

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