HHS Receives Preservation Award for Leavitt Barn

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By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, May 15, 2009

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

PRESERVING HISTORY -- Jack Hall, John Hall (of Delta Crane), HHS President Ben Moore, Chet Riley, Dave DeGagne and Percy Annis (of the Hampton Historical Society) are pictured here with the award presented by the NH Preservation Alliance in recognition of the Society's successful Leavitt House Barn restoration project.
[Atlantic News Courtesy Photo]

HAMPTON -- The Hampton Historical Society's c. 1796 Leavitt House Barn is one of 13 projects (and one of two barns) in the state of New Hampshire to be recognized by the NH Preservation Alliance, for outstanding achievement in preservation.

The honor was announced on Tuesday of this week in Concord. The awards are presented annually; this year marks the Alliance's 20th year celebrating preservation achievement in New Hampshire. The call for this year's nominations was issued in February.

"We welcome this opportunity to recognize outstanding projects and people, offer thanks and inspire others," said Preservation Alliance board member and Awards Committee Chair, Paula Cabot. "The 2009 award-winning projects, while varied, share common themes: Tenacious leaders, strong public support and creative problem solving."

The interior of the Leavitt Barn showing all the antique tools.

HHS took on the Leavitt House Barn project back in 2004, when it was located on Drakeside Road and in danger of being demolished. Thanks to public outcry and a hard-working, dedicated group of individuals, the 38'x36' post-and-beam structure was saved from demolition, dismantled, and relocated to the grounds of the Tuck Museum complex on Park Avenue.

Over the next several years, with assistance from a generous community and a crew of volunteers and barn experts, HHS was able to lay a concrete foundation in preparation for the barn's eventual reconstruction. Vigorous fundraising and donations helped to fund the project, and an official barnraising took place in 2007.

HHS celebrated the project at a community grand opening in 2008; the structure now houses an impressive exhibit of farm-related artifacts and other related implements from the museum's collection. This example of adaptive re-use lives up to its purpose with the programs and exhibits offered by HHS at the Tuck Museum.

The hard work and dedication that went into the Leavitt House Barn project did not go unnoticed by NH Preservation Alliance officials, who observed that "every year we lose New Hampshire barns to demolition and collapse. The careful dismantling and preservation of the Leavitt Barn by the Hampton Historical Society is a victory in the uphill battle to save landmarks of our agricultural past."

"The Historical Society is delighted that the Preservation Alliance honors us with the award," said HHS President, Ben Moore, who accepted the honor on Tuesday along with fellow HHS barn crew members Chet Riley, Dave DeGagne and Percy Annis. "Looking back on the five years that have passed since we started this project, we are proud of the finished product and believe that the barn will be an important part of the Society and the Town history for another 200 years."

In addition to the two barns recognized by the NH Preservation Alliance this year, the award-winning projects include two bridges, two railroad stations, a town hall, a schoolhouse, a canal gatehouse, a Civil War memorial, a Seacoast warehouse and two gardens.

According to NH Preservation Alliance Executive Director, Jennifer Goodman, the awards "recognize individuals, organizations and corporations for work or projects in the categories of restoration and stewardship, rehabilitation and adaptive use, compatible new construction and advocacy" for iconic projects "that anchor stories of New Hampshire's agrarian roots, industrial prowess and attraction as a retreat for visitors."

Besides the Hampton Historical Society's Leavitt House Barn (recognized for "outstanding advocacy and preservation") and the Gilmanton Year Round Library Association's 1790s barn (outstanding revitalization), this year's winners include:

Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden, outstanding restoration of the Moffatt-Ladd Coach House; Strawbery Banke Museum, outstanding restoration of the Aldrich Garden; University of New Hampshire, outstanding renovation of the Boston & Maine Railroad Depot for the UNH-Durham Transit Station; Barbara Fildes and Keith Quinton, outstanding revitalization of the Tunis District School House,; Friends of Temple Town Hall, outstanding preservation and restoration of the Temple Town Hall and its sympathetic addition; Lisbon, outstanding preservation and revitalization, Lisbon Historic Railroad Station; Haverhill and Bath, outstanding rehabilitation of the Haverhill-Bath Covered Bridge; Henniker, outstanding rehabilitation, Ramsdell Road Historic Truss Bridge; Soldiers Memorial Advisory Board, outstanding preservation/stewardship of the Soldiers Memorial Building; The Fells for outstanding restoration/stewardship of its historic landscape; and the City of Nashua, outstanding preservation, restoration/rehabilitation of the Mine Falls Gatehouse.

"These buildings are irreplaceable, and their revitalizations contribute to the character of our communities and our local economies," noted Goodman.

The NH Preservation Alliance, which has presented 138 awards since 1989, is the statewide membership organization dedicated to preserving historic buildings, communities and landscapes through leadership, education and advocacy. Current priorities include providing assistance to community leaders and promoting effective weatherization, community-centered schools, barn preservation and preservation as "the original green." For more information visit www.nhpreservation.org.

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