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Barry Doubleday, of Clarke Painting Inc., paints a railing at the front entrance of the Robert Frost Farm home on Wednesday. (HUNTER McGEE/Union Leader Correspondent)

Refreshing a legendary site

A new look for Frost Farm

DERRY — As the fall colors change, the historic Robert Frost home on Route 28 has also been taking on a brighter look thanks to a state-funded painting project.

Painters were putting the finishing touches on the two-story building, barn and fence Wednesday. The work began at the start of October and should be completed in about a week, said Kurt Smith of Clarke Painting Inc. in Portland Maine.

Smith, who supervised the project for Clarke, said he feels a sense of accomplishment as the work nears completion.

"It's cool to be able repair a part of history," Smith said. "It always feels good when you get a tough job like this wrapped up because it's not necessarily huge in terms of area, but it is a lot of work."

Frost owned the farm from 1900 to 1911. During this period, he drew inspiration for some of his most famous works of poetry from the rural setting. He farmed and also taught English just up the road at Pinkerton Academy.

Built in 1885, the home required almost three coats of paint, Smith said.

The New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development opened the project to bidding in the summer. Clarke submitted the lowest bid and was awarded the job that came in at just under $20,000 Smith said.

Since Oct. 1, two to four painters from Clarke worked each day, Smith said. Extra care had to be taken to maintain the historical character of the farmhouse and barn, he said.

"You try to maintain that older New England look," Smith said. "You keep the rougher clapboards on there."

Smith said the farmhouse also has older style windows that slide up and down. Workers had to take such extra steps as using putty around the sash areas of the windows

"There is a lot of work involved," Smith said

Also as part of the state project, painters were required to clean and paint exterior wood trim, siding and all other surfaces that were previously painted.

They were also required to paint the wood trim, eaves, rakes, door and window casings, and the front door that is facing main road Route 28 with a two-coat system of exterior latex gloss in white. The same system in a shade of green was to be used on the remaining doors and barn doors, according to the terms of the state project.

As he painted a fence at the front of the farmhouse, Barry Doubleday, of Clarke, said workers have not taken any elaborate steps in the effort.

"They've been doing everything to keep it historical," Doubleday said.

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