Doors Swing Open Again For Barn Project

By Liz Premo

Atlantic News, Thursday, May 20, 2004

HAMPTON -- Plans for an 18th century barn on Drakeside Road in Hampton to be dismantled and relocated to the grounds of the Tuck Museum were temporarily put on hold last week, after funding for the project was suddenly withdrawn.

As of this newspaper's Tuesday morning press time, however, it appeared there was a very good chance that the barn project was "on" once again.

The barn is located on the grounds of the former Sanders & McDermott property, which is now under new ownership. When the Heritage Commission learned that the barn on the property was not going to be "part of the landscape" and would likely be demolished, a very interested Hampton Historical Society was informed.

Since the historical significance of the c. 1796 post-and-beam structure was not lost on either organization, members quickly came up with the relocation plan. With an offer from the property owners to provide $7000 toward the barn project, and a team of volunteers lined up to do much of the work, it seemed like things were falling into place. An unexpected corporate decision prompted the sudden funding withdrawal, however, and brought it all to a screeching halt for the Hampton Historical Society.

The Heritage Commission stayed involved, though, enlisting the assistance of NH Preservation Alliance members Chet Riley and Bob Pothier, who was able to come up with a list of parties who were possibly interested in purchasing the barn outright. In the meantime, the owners appeared to have had a change of heart, interestingly enough after the Heritage Commission sought to rescind the demolition permit at a meeting held last Wednesday night (such permits are needed when seeking to demolish structures over a certain age).

Subsequently, the Heritage Commission was contacted by attorneys for the property owners, who according to HHS President Ben Moore said they "wanted to put a deal together." Moore reported that the attorney's office was "drafting an agreement" that would put the $7000 "back on the table." In turn, the HHS would need to agree to certain criteria; for instance, making sure those individuals who volunteered to dismantle the barn have insurance coverage. To that end, Moore has been in regular contact with the Tobey & Merrill insurance agency in Hampton.

"Hopefully," said Moore, "things are going to move forward." As of Tuesday's press time, the necessary legal documents were apparently still being drawn up and papers had yet to be signed.

Over the last week or so, Heritage Commission member Elizabeth Aykroyd has been keeping in contact with the town attorney as well as with those representing the owners of the Drakeside Road property.

"We want to be sure we do this all legally," said Aykroyd. "All the lawyers are looking at it." She appeared upbeat yet cautious about the barn project, noting that "the owners are willing to get this on track. [They] certainly want this to move forward." Once the legalities fall into place, said Aykroyd, "we'll be able to get this barn down and make everyone happy."

With a nod toward the Hampton Historical Society's plans to hopefully reconstruct the barn on the grounds of the Tuck Museum and possibly utilize it for the town's Farm Museum, Aykroyd says, "We are very excited that it seems to now be possible that this building will be saved in the town of Hampton."

If that does happen, the Hampton Historical Society will oversee the dismantling and relocating project as originally planned, as well as organize an eventual barn raising event in 2005, made possible with proceeds brought in through fundraising efforts.