Hampton Historical Society Raising Barn, Membership

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By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, March 16, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

HAMPTON -- The Hampton Historical Society has officially announced that Saturday, June 2 is the "magic date" which has been set aside for their much anticipated barnraising event.

Since the HHS helped save the c.1796 Widow Leavitt Barn from demolition back in 2004, the ultimate goal all along has been to raise it up again.

And now with assistance from a dedicated team of volunteers and a generous community of donors, the goal is close to being met.

Dismantled and relocated from Drakeside Road to the grounds of the Tuck Museum on Park Avenue, the barn and its components have undergone various repairs. A concrete foundation — complete with sills installed last summer — and a big bunch of engraved, hand-hewn wooden pegs await the barn's eventual reconstruction.

To that end, a major fundraising effort has been ongoing over the last several years, with donations coming in from all around the community.

"The barn fundraising is going well," reports HHS Trustee, Ben Moore, noting that by the end of 2006 the town's historical society had "raised 75 percent of the $60,000 needed to complete the barn."

Then last month, HHS announced that they needed $16,000 in order to fully complete the barn project. They also announced that an anonymous donor has offered up a very generous challenge: A one-to-one match of contributions up to $8000.

In other words, if HHS can raise that amount through continued community donations, the anonymous donor will match it to provide the $16,000 total needed to complete the barn.

According to the most recent HHS newsletter "Gatherings from the Green," the challenge is in effect until July 1, 2007.

The effort appears to be off to a good start — HHS has already received more than $1000 toward the grant and is growing ever closer to the goal of reconstructing the barn.

"I can't wait to get the barn up," says Moore, an HHS member since 1990. "It's going to look nice out there."

Members of the community who would like to assist in the final leg of "fundraising for a barnraising" may do so by sending a check made out to the Hampton Historical Society and mailing it to PO Box 1601, Hampton, NH 03843-1601.

The barn is the latest attraction to the Tuck Museum, which saw the recent addition of a Hampton Beach cottage on the museum complex as well as numerous gifts added to the collection that is carefully managed and exhibited by the HHS.

As an example, recent gifts from the community have included maps, framed pictures, tools, scrapbooks, antique Christmas cards, books and booklets, and research documents. There's even a letter sweater from Hampton Academy and High School and a sweatshirt from the annual Seafood Festival held at Hampton Beach.

For museum visitors, there is certainly more to the museum's contents than meets the eye.

"The collection is not just what you see in the cases," says Moore, noting that there is plenty to discover "behind the scenes" at the museum. These discoveries include historical documents, manuscripts and articles, as well as costumes and textiles stored in a protective environment.

"We are preserving a lot of Hampton history," he adds.

Moore hastens to point out that "the operations of the museum are totally driven by membership [and] made possible by the dues the membership pays."

At last count, HHS had "just over 500" members, says Moore, with new ones adding their names to the list during a recent membership drive.

Not only would Moore like to see the number of new members grow, but he also encourages current ones to stay on board.

"We're anxious to have all our existing members renew," he emphasizes, noting that membership in the Hampton Historical Society provides the public with "an opportunity to be part of an organization that fosters the development of community spirit."

Be part of that community spirit. To find out more about the Hampton Historical Society, joining the membership or making a donation, visit www.hamptonhistorical society.org.

MEN AT WORK — Proper tools, a crane and good balance were instrumental in disassembling the Leavitt Barn prior to relocating it to the grounds of the Tuck Museum in Hampton.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]
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