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Community House on Seven to Save list


October 24, 2012
LITTLETON — The Community House was selected as a key state preservation priority last week. The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance put the iconic town structure on its Seven to Save list.

Placement on the list highlights the ongoing maintenance needs of buildings and other historic locations in the state. The annual focus on seven structures began in 2006.

Maggie Stier of the Preservation Alliance said the Community House was a great addition to this year's Seven to Save list. "This nomination was a strong one," Stier said. "The house is very important to the community." Dozens of groups use the house and annex for regular meetings.

Stier said that Seven to Save hopes to attract attention to the Community House. "We want to send a clear message," she said. "This building is much deserving of new investment."

Roxanne Bowker, president of the Community House board, said that historical preservation efforts often focus on properties no longer in use. The Community House is different. "Ours is a viable, working property still," Bowker said. The effort to preserve the site, Bowker continued, "is for the whole town and surrounding area."

The board is interested in making sure the house can serve Littleton for decades to come. "We have deferred a lot of maintenance through the years," Bowker noted.

Ongoing maintenance funds have fresh relevance to the house's board. The property's annex, located behind the main house, lost its heating system recently. Bowker said that study of the problem concluded that the furnace "is not safe to operate anymore." As a result of the heating issue, Bowker said that the annex will be closed this winter.

Roof issues are on the agenda, as well. Bowker said that there may be problems with wood underneath the shingles. Estimates have been hard to pin down because of the possible extra funding needed to repair the roof frame, in addition to new shingles.

In a statement, Bowker noted the difficulty that comes with caring for the house and annex. "We have learned that what makes these old Queen Anne style homes so beautiful and attractive, also makes them challenging to care for," she said.

On the property's website, the board's cause statement notes that they are focused on "restoring a sense of community in Littleton by ensuring the future and relevance of the Community House and Annex."

Bowker thanked Ruth Taylor for writing the Seven to Save application. Taylor also assists the board in its efforts to attract funding.

The Community House has been serving the town for more than 90 years. At the 1920 town meeting, residents designated the Community House as a memorial to the soldiers and sailors of World War I.

Bowker hopes that the attention of the Preservation Alliance "will spur interest in our property." She continued by saying, "We would like to work with local businesses if we can."

Stier is very optimistic about the property's future. "The townspeople have cared for it so well," she said. "They have a real treasure." Stier concluded that the Community House is a "showplace, top-notch" location.

The Community House website is www.littletoncommunitycenter.org. Donations can be made online.

Last year, Pearson Hall in Haverhill made Seven to Save. The iron furnace in Franconia was placed on the list in 2009.

Martin Lord Osman
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