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Saving history

NH Preservation Alliance honors 10 for protecting historic treasures

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 07. 2013 9:37PM
The Gundalow Company of Portsmouth was recognized for re-creating the Piscataqua, a flat-bottomed boat used to transport goods along the Piscataqua River. The Piscataqua building crew, led by Paul Rollins, master shipwright, is pictured. (PHOTO COURTESY OF RALPH MORANG)

CONCORD -- THE MILTON TOWN HOUSE Stewardship Committee received one of 10 awards Tuesday from the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, which recognized projects and people throughout the state for work in protecting Granite State historical treasures.

"I'm flabbergasted. It's a big thing for the town of Milton, really," John Katwick, project manager for the restoration of the Milton Town House, said of the award. "It's just tremendous because of the support that we have received."

The structure was built in 1803, when it originally opened as a religious meeting house in the Strafford County community, about 40 miles northeast of Concord.

The building that survived more than 200 years was being used for storage when a committee was formed in 2007 to look into restoring a piece of history dating almost back to the town's incorporation in 1802.

"It's drawn so much attention. It's just a proud thing for the community," Katwick said.

The project included restoring 22 window sashes and the horse rail around the building last year.

Katwick said work may go on another couple of years, but the progress is evident to passers-by on Route 125 near the Maine/New Hampshire state line.

Gundalow Company

Also recognized was the Gundalow Company for its work with the Piscataqua, a re-creation of the flat-bottomed sailing ships that transported cargo along inland waterways from the 1600s until the early 1900s.

The Piscataqua itself was an attraction as shipwrights built it using mostly traditional methods and tools on the grounds of the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth until the vessel's official launch in 2011.

"We are truly honored to accept this award," said Molly Bolster, executive director of the Gundalow Company.

Bolster said the vessel has made about 300 sails on the Piscataqua River, including taking 65 school groups for a hands-on lesson in the history of shipping and the changes the waterway has undergone over the centuries.

"The response is heartwarming. For many kids, this is their first experience on the river," Bolster said. "From the moment you leave the dock, the world has a different perspective."

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance recognized seven construction projects and three education and advocacy initiatives for the 2013 awards.

"These awards showcase how investment in community landmarks and forward-thinking education and planning projects not only revive irreplaceable landmarks, but also bring people together, support local jobs and advance other community goals," said Paula Cabot, awards committee chairwoman, said in a news release.

Other achievements recognized are:

--North Hampton for the rehabilitation of its town hall. Since the building was declared unsafe in 2004, the building steeple and clock have been repaired, roofing overhauled and the front has been restored to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act's standards. The woodwork was retained, windows restored and the historic front door replicated as part of the project. The town hall is now home to municipal offices, and public meetings are held there.

--The Portsmouth Historical Society for transforming the former city library into the Discover Portsmouth Center. The historical society raised more than $1.3 million to rehabilitate the building and renovate it into a visitors center featuring an exhibit hall, information on Portsmouth's heritage and a museum shop.

--Donna Dunn and the Dunbarton Historical Awareness Committee for restoration of the Dunbarton Cobbler Shop. Dunn's search for a garden shed led her to a small building associated with 26 cobblers known to have worked in Dunbarton. It had been moved to Goffstown in the 1950s and returned to Dunbarton on a flat-bed truck in 2008. The building was meticulously rehabilitated and restored with authentic materials, including a stove, benches and cobblers tools.

--The Squam National Register of Historic Places Committee and Squam Lakes Conservation Society for an initiative to get the watershed recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. The National Parks Service granted a Multiple Documentation Form for individual property owners and districts seeking recognition on the National Register. The project also led to the creation of an archive of Squam documents including photographs, maps and guest logs.

--"Meetinghouse: The Heart of Washington, New Hampshire," a documentary on the history of the town's 1787 meetinghouse and the town's public outreach campaign to restore it. The documentary includes old photos and stories of the historic structure as well as displays of the tools and craftsmanship dating to its construction in the late 18th century. The film premiered last summer during the 225th birthday celebration for the meetinghouse.

--Newmarket Mills, LLC, for the revitalization of nearly 300,000 square feet of empty mill space. The Newmarket Manufacturing Company started building the mill complex in 1823 along the Lamprey River. The town of Newmarket set out to revitalize the vacant properties through tax relief and zoning changes, leading to a reconstructed Main Street. The crumbling mills were rebuilt or repaired and now include housing units, commercial properties and performing arts and civic space.

--Gilmanton for restoration and stewardship of the Gilmanton Academy. The landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, chartered in 1794 and rebuilt in 1894 after a fire destroyed the original structure. The deteriorating cupola was removed in 2008 and put in storage before community leaders successfully led efforts to restore it and return it to its place atop the town landmark in 2011. The building, currently now home to municipal offices and various activities, has also been weatherized to be more energy efficient.

--The town of Sandwich for stewardship of the Sandwich Town Hall. The 1915 building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was renovated and restored to provide additional records storage space, a sprinkler system, repainting the interior and exterior and adding ADA accessibility to the second floor.

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