NH's oldest operating Town Meeting place receives grantsBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent March 27. 2014 4:20PM
LANDGON — The restoration of the Langdon Meetinghouse is moving along thanks to two recent grants received by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
The $7,000 in grants will be used by the Langdon Heritage Commission to fund architectural plans for a proposed restoration project of the historic meetinghouse, said commission chairman Dennis McClary on Wednesday.
"It would have taken a whole lot more cookie sales and foot races and small steps to meet the goal of raising enough money to do that, and now thanks to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation it is now possible to do that," he said.
The first grant of $5,000 came through the Foundation in January from the Monadnock Regional Community Fund.
Then just recently the Putnam Foundation granted the commission $2,000.
The restoration project would reconfigure the first floor of the Meetinghouse where the annual Town Meeting is held. Town and police offices were added to the first floor over the years and made the large meeting room of the first floor smaller. Voter participation is high in Langdon, McClary said, so Town Meetings can be cramped.
"Now that we have a new facility on the other side of the village for municipal offices we're able to take some of that seating area back so we can more comfortably seat a greater number of people and meet fire and ADA requirements," McClary said.
The commission has already interviewed three architectural firms and plans to hire one soon.
"We need the plans for June. We'll be applying for grants at that point with these documents in hand so they know exactly what we're doing," McClary said.
The Langdon Meetinghouse was listed as one of New Hampshire Preservation Alliance's "Seven to Save" structures in 2008. This designation recognizes historic sites and buildings that are important to the landscape and heritage of New Hampshire. This historic building was also recently added to the New Hampshire Registry of Historic Places and is home of the most consecutive town meetings held in all of New Hampshire, the commission claims.
Construction of the Langdon Meetinghouse started in 1801 and was finished in 1803.
"Thomas Jefferson was president at that time and Napoleon was roaming around Europe raising Cain when this building was built," McClary said.
Since then the town has held its official Town Meeting in the building every year.
"Our records indicate we're the oldest operating Town Meeting place in New Hampshire," he said. "It's conceivable that ours is the oldest in the country."