Seven to Save: Historic mansion slated for demolition should be saved, say history buffs

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MANCHESTER, NH — The Hall of Flags at the New Hampshire Statehouse and the former residence of three Catholic bishops across the street from the Currier Museum in Manchester top the Seven to Save list, released today by the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance.  Seven to Save is a highly sought-after designation that helps places in crisis to get broader attention, a boost from investors, and an opportunity to engage more people in creative solutions for important historic places.

There is growing concern about the condition and long-term preservation of the flags, a collection which began after the Civil War when the battle flags of New Hampshire regiments were returned and put on display here.  Some are bloodstained and bullet-ridden; all are emblems of valor and sacrifice.

Manchester Bishop Libasci set a November 30 deadline for the Chandler House, also known as St. Hedwig Convent, to be sold and moved off its Walnut Street lot or it will be demolished.  The house is said to have the finest Victorian interiors in the city and perhaps in the state. [Read more here on that.]

The town hall in Rye and the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island, part of the Isles of Shoals, also made the list.  Voters in Rye are divided on whether to invest in rehabilitating their town hall, and the Star Island Corporation needs much more help to stabilize and upgrade their sprawling older facility perched on a rocky coastline.  Two others on the list, the Lane Homestead in Stratham and the Pickering House in Wolfeboro are landmark residential complexes that are now on the market.  Beloved by locals and important for the history they represent, there are no protections to prevent the next owner from demolishing them.  St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts in Berlin also made the list.  It is a former church that serves as a vibrant performing and visual arts center, yet upkeep of the building has reached a critical tipping point for its non-profit managers.

2014 Seven to Save House on Hanover Street

“These highly visible places are extraordinary examples of architecture and craftsmanship, significant to their communities, and important for their connections to local and state history.  Their future survival depends on building greater awareness, attracting new resources, and engaging a range of preservation strategies to keep them viable into the future,” said Seven to Save chair and board member Hunter Ulf.   “Preservation activity is valuable because it contributes to the character of communities and the economic vitality of the state,” Ulf added.

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance made its announcement at two events in Concord on October 21, a legislative and press gathering at the Statehouse and a public ceremony and reception at 7 Eagle Square.  Local advocates for each project highlighted the needs, opportunities and benefits of saving the places on the 2015 list, and a brief annual meeting honored retiring board members Linda Upham-Bornstein of Lancaster and Kenneth Viscarello of Manchester.

Three previous Seven to Save sites in the Concord area  (all in 2013) hosted visitors before the announcement ceremony, including a presentation at the Concord Gasholder by owner Liberty Utilities, though admittance to the inside of the building was not permitted. Recently, the round brick Gasholder has received unprecedented attention as its owners debate the future of the damaged brick structure, the only one of its type in the country to survive with its interior mechanisms still intact. The Kimball Jenkins Estate on North Main Street and Boscawen’s 1913 Library on King Street were also open for Alliance members and visitors to learn about efforts to preserve and re-use their historic spaces.

This year’s list is the tenth since Seven to Save began in 2006.  “The Alliance is proud of its record,” noted Maggie Stier, who heads theSeven to Save program for the Preservation Alliance.  “Over half the listed properties have moved from threatened status to saved or are on the way to being saved.”  Success stories presented at the event included town halls in Kensington, Langdon, Middleton, and Wolfeboro, and unusual resources like the Mill Pond Dam in Durham, the Iron Furnace in Franconia, and the Stone Arch Bridge in Keene.

Criteria for Seven to Save include the property’s historical or architectural significance, severity of the current threat, and the extent to which Seven to Save listing would help in preserving or protecting the property.

Seven to Save program sponsors include the Lewis Family Foundation, Christopher P. Williams Architects, PLLC; Ian Blackman LLC Restoration and Preservation; Irish Electric Corporation; Norton Asset Management; Dennis Mires P.A. The Architects; Iron Horse Standing Seam Roofing; HEB Engineers, Inc.; CMK Architects P.A.; and Meridian Construction.

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance is the statewide membership organization dedicated to preserving historic buildings, communities and landscapes through education, resources and advocacy.  For more information, visit www.nhpreservation.org.


 

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About Carol Robidoux 5198 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.