Group Works To Save Old Courthouse

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, December 27, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

The Old Hampton Courthouse

HAMPTON -- The town's Heritage Commission was recently awarded a grant to hire a consultant to come up with adaptive reuses for the old Hampton District Court on Winnacunnet Road.

Elizabeth Aykroyd, chairwoman of the Heritage Commission, said the $400 grant from the state's Preservation Alliance will be used immediately. The commission doesn't want to see the century-old building demolished.

The N.H. Preservation Alliance provides small matching grants to assist nonprofits in hiring a consultant to assist with preservation planning. The Heritage Commission had to contribute $100 as part of the condition of the grant.

The commission plans to hire John Merkle, who was the architect on the Wentworth by the Sea renovation. He will begin his work in early January.

One adaptive reuse for the building has already been presented by Selectman Ben Moore. He said he would like the building to become part of the plan for a new beach fire station and administrative wing addition to Station 2 on Winnacunnet Road. The old courthouse building could be moved next to Station 2 and act as the administrative wing, Moore said.

The idea also frees up land where the old district court sits for a possible site for a joint Hampton/Exeter court.

The library also has expressed interest in the site for a new library.

"I hope that they consider it," Moore said. "If we don't find an adaptive reuse of that building, it will eventually just crumble away. I think it's one of the oldest public buildings we have in town, and it would be nice to continue to use it for a public purpose."

The building has been a part of town history since 1873. According to archives from Lane Memorial Library, the building was originally built where the current Centre School is located at a cost of $4,484.

In 1922, the building was moved to its current location, and through the years served at one time or another as Hampton's public kindergarten, the American Legion Post No. 35 hall, Fire Station 2 and, finally, Hampton District Court.

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