Heritage Commission seeks restrictions on Hallsville RFP

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Stanley Garrity on Feb. 27, 2024. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Heritage Commission agreed during their meeting on Tuesday to craft a letter requesting that the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) place restrictions on any proposed new uses for Hallsville School in the hopes of preserving the building’s historic character.

Built in 1891, the former elementary school has remained mostly vacant since 2021 outside of some programs run in the school’s gymnasium by the Department of Public Works Parks and Recreation Division.

The building had been slated to continue being used by Parks and Recreation along with use by Southern New Hampshire Services and the Granite State Children’s Alliance, but that agreement fell through after it was determined that Southern New Hampshire Services would not be able to raise enough funding to make the plan feasible.

In December, Parks and Recreation chief Mark Gomez provided a report to the BMA Committee on Lands and Buildings that Hallsville could be used as space for Parks and Recreation as well as the Office of Youth Services with an associated cost of $5 million in upgrades and $100,000 for annual upkeep. Last week, that committee decided to delay any decision until a request for proposals could be finalized.

While the Heritage Commission was not opposed to the reuse of the school, they expressed concern that in theory, the BMA could accept a proposal tearing down or destroying the historic nature of the building.

Ward 4 Alderman Christine Fajardo told the board that Ward 7 Alderman Ross Terrio had reached out to neighbors near the school and most thought the building should be saved and reused, although there were differing opinions over what that use should be.

Heritage Commission Chairman Stanley Garrity noted that many similar schools constructed by the Amoskeag Corporation in Manchester, such as the Hallsville School, have been reused for other purposes such as the Brown School, the Pearl Street School, the Straw School and others.

Former Heritage Commission member Aurore Eaton also noted that a historic preservation easement for the property could be pursued and that preservation of the building’s façade alone could be enough to both maintain the building’s character and not be a hindrance for developers seeking to revitalize the building.

“Once you have a great concept, money will show up somehow,” she said.

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Hallsville Elementary School on April 6, 2022. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

 

About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.