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Wolfeboro selectmen approve two barn preservation easements

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
May 11, 2017
WOLFEBORO — At public hearings conducted at its May 3 meeting the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen approved two Discretionary Preservation Easements for Historic Agricultural Structures, as allowed by RSA 79-D.

The structures approved are barns located at 332 North Main St. and at 458 Center St.

In order to receive a Discretionary Preservation Easement, a structure must provide "a demonstrated public benefit." According to RSA 79-D "A discretionary preservation easement shall be considered to provide a demonstrated public benefit if it provides at least one of the following public benefits:

"(a) There is scenic enjoyment of the structure by the general public from a public way or from public waters.

"(b) The structure is historically important on a local, regional, state, or national level, either independently or within an historic district.

"(c) The structure's physical or aesthetic features contribute to the historic or cultural integrity of a property listed on or determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, state register of historic places, or locally designated historic district."

The easement and lower valuation on the historic barn lasts for 10 or more years and the property owner agrees the maintain the building in good historical condition. If the property changes hands, the new owner receives the same benefits and has the same maintenance requirement.

The town agrees to assess the barns at between 25 and 75 percent of full value and to not increase the value during the term based on any renovations and repairs made to the structure.

Three properties in Wolfeboro already have historic barn easements: 29 Allen Road (50 percent assessment, expires 2026), 343 Stoneham Road (50 percent assessment, expires 2020), and 603 Brown's Ridge Road (the first easement granted by the town: 25 percent assessment, expires 2018).

332 North Main Street

The barn at 332 North Main (Map 187, Lot 14) is owned by Elizabeth Nordbeck and Bruce Robinson and is one of the oldest built in Wolfeboro. It sits on the fifth lot distributed in Wolfeboro and the adjacent house was built circa 1780. The main barn itself is a "Yankee" type barn, 80 feet long and 40 feet wide, was erected in 1800 or shortly thereafter. A rear barn, 45 feet long and 35 feet wide, was attached to the main barn circa 1869.

The 100-acre original property ran down to the lake and was used for agricultural purposes into the 1930s and then in the 1940s and 1950s as Camp Ashbrook, a summer camp.

The property was owned by many years by Blake Folsom, who built and owned Black's Paper & Gift Store and was a founder of the First Christian Church. It was and still is known as Folsom Farm.

The current owners purchased the 3.5 acres remaining of the original property, including house and barns, in 1983. They plan to replace the roofs on the two barns and repair wooden loft floors and a cement floor in the rear barn.

The house and barn can be seen from North Main Street and Armstrong Road and partially from Highland Terrace.

The house and barns will be featured on the 2017 House and Garden Tour, the annual benefit event for Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice.

Beth Nordbeck and Bruce Robinson and their maple sugaring operation were profiled in the March 9, 2017 issue of this newspaper as an "Our Town" featured on page B7.

458 Center Street

This barn is located on the 1810 House Bed & Breakfast property (Map 148, Lot 12), owned by Heidi von Götz Cogean and Christopher D. Coache, who purchased the property in January.

The barn and main house can be seen from Center Street (Route 28).

According to the owners the original structure was begun in 1767 and was smaller than the 91-feet long, 40-feet wide, three-level barn seen today. They believe it is the oldest barn in town and the second oldest barn in New Hampshire, second only to Tuttle's red barn in Dover.

Originally part of a family farm, it became part of the Allen A Summer Resort in the 1940s and in 1976, when Allen Albee died, the three-story home was converted to a bed and breakfast and the barn was opened as a multi-vendor antiques shop.

Two structural engineers walked through the barn and noted it was in good condition. However, several support piers in the basement need straightening, the back foundation wall needs to be rebuilt, an overall coat of paint is needed and the metal sheathing on the back of the barn ideally replaced with wooden siding.

The owners have received a variance from the Wolfeboro Zoning Board of Adjustment to use a section of the barn as the tasting room for Newfound Lake Vineyard (doing business as Winnipesaukee Winery) and are awaiting federal approval and a site visit from the N.H. Liquor Commission. They intend to plant a vineyard in the front and back of the barn, thus reviving the agricultural use of the eight-acre site.

They also intend to apply for the N.H. Farm of Distinction designation once the vineyard is ready.

Board determination

Selectmen approved the easement applications for both barns. The percentage of value of each easement will be established at a future public hearing.

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