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Mack family offers historic homestead to Londonderry

By CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent

November 22. 2017 10:11PM
The Mack family homestead, located at 234 Mammoth Road, is among the most photographed properties in Londonderry. Below, the Mack family's 14-room, Victorian homestead dates back to 1772. (COURTESY PHOTO)

LONDONDERRY — One of Londonderry’s most prominent families is offering to sell the town its 14-room farmhouse, which has portions of the homestead dating back to 1772.

Andy Mack, the seventh generation of his family to occupy the property, appeared before the Londonderry Town Council on Monday night with a proposal to give the municipality the first opportunity to purchase the building.

“We feel the family homestead is a place that should be open to the town and we feel this is the best and highest use for a property that has had a long history with the public,” Mack said.

“Having the town purchase this property would be, in our opinion, the next sensible step in protecting that history, honoring a piece of Londonderry heritage and encouraging legacy of community and culture that is uniquely Londonderry.”

He asked if a warrant article for March 2018 is a viable option to let voters decide.

Council members were very receptive to the idea; they asked Mack to talk to the town’s Heritage Commission and review how councilors could find the best option before the March election.

“The only question I have is if the town takes possession of the home, will you still come back every Old Home Day and wave from the yard,” said Town Manager Kevin Smith, prompting a laugh. “We’re going to miss that.”

Mack suggested the site could be used by civic groups and for cultural events; rent would help cover upkeep and utilities.

“As the town grows it strikes us that there will be an increasing demand for such space, so this would also help toward satisfying this,” he said.

Family traditions

As the family prepared for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, the Macks’ grandchildren filled the homestead, putting on plays just off the main living room and engaging in a fast-action game of tag.

The family gathered in a kitchen older than the combined age of every Mack in the room and snacked on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Carol Mack, Andy Mack’s wife, proudly showed off family photos over the fireplace in the original kitchen, still equipped with the swing-arm used for cooking. She pulls out drawers with farmers’ almanacs from the time when Thomas Jefferson was president.

“We’ve written our own lines in the home’s history,” said Andy Mack. “In the past, I understand they even laid out the dead in the front parlor for wakes. That’s the one tradition we skipped.”

The family is best known for its apple orchards, which have been cultivated by the Macks since the colonial era. The homestead sits next to the family business.

The building was originally constructed as a two-story colonial with attached carriage sheds. Some of the floor joists in the basement still have the bark on the sides, hewn by hand during the construction more than 250 years ago.

Dormers and fish-scale shakes, distinctive of Victorian-era style, were added and the carriage sheds were later converted into rooms, giving the house its “L” shape.

The homestead is located at 234 Mammoth Road and was originally known as “The Glenwoods.” It sits on 1.84 acres of land and is assessed by the town at $331,300.

“I want to make it clear that we are not coming to the town with our hands held out,” Mack told councilors on Monday. “We simply wish to give the town the option to purchase before we offer the home for private sale.”

He added: “No one in our family has taken an interest in taking the place over; we have exhausted a number of other options.”

The family is motivated enough to sell the house to the town at a fair price, he said.

“It is very important to my family that the property be protected — and just as important that the property be enjoyed,” he said.


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