Tuesday, April 5, 2011

NH's Five Year Preservation Plan Available Online

The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources is pleased to announce that New Hampshire’s Five Year Preservation Plan: Points of Interest and Touring Map is now available online. Based on input from the preservation community from across the state, the plan lays out priorities and directions for preserving and promoting New Hampshire’s historical and archeological resources during the next five years. 

The National Park Service asks each state to develop a State Historic Preservation Plan every five years. New Hampshire’s plan documents what all of New Hampshire—businesses, not-for-profit organizations, individuals, and public agencies —hopes to do to preserve the state’s historical buildings, neighborhoods, downtowns, archaeological sites and traditional landscapes. 

The National Parks Service, which approves each state’s plan, wrote to Historical Resources that New Hampshire’s plan will “provide helpful guidance not only to your own office, but also for your preservation partners throughout New Hampshire. We congratulate you on your excellent revised State Plan.”

The Division of Historical Resources collected information for the Preservation Plan at five public listening sessions held throughout the state in 2010. At these sessions, members of the public were asked what they thought New Hampshire’s historic preservation success stories were in the previous five years; what social, economic, political, legal and environmental trends impact these resources; which goals and objectives should be pursued in the next five years; and other issues related to historic preservation.

For the first time, the Division of Historical Resources created a blog to distribute updates, share session discussions, and compare concerns and comments across the state. A large online audience responded to a short questionnaire. Together, this gathered information forms the basis for the plan, particularly for the sections on success stories, trends, and goals and actions. Questionnaire results and the minutes from the public brainstorming sessions appear in the plan appendices. 

“Hearing from so many people has been the highlight of assembling this plan,” said Elizabeth Muzzey, director of the Division of Historical Resources and state historic preservation officer. “The Division is grateful to everyone for their assistance and for all of the inspiring success stories. We look forward to working with our partners to implement many of the action items in the plan during the next five years.”

New Hampshire’s Five Year Preservation Plan: Points of Interest and Touring Map is now available for download. The Division of Historical Resources is also seeking sponsorship to fund the publication of the plan in printed format, in order to distribute a copy to every public library in the state.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Status of the Plan

Thank you all for your comments on the draft Preservation Plan.  The Plan has been revised and submitted to the National Park Service for review and approval.  We expect to hear back from the Park Service later this month.  Once the Plan is approved we will post it here and also on the DHR website.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Points of Interest and Touring Map

A draft of New Hampshire’s Five Year Preservation Plan, 2011-2015 is now available for comment. Many in the state’s preservation community have contributed their thoughts, energy and time to this document over the past year. For those who wish to review this work in progress, click below, and then forward your comments and ideas to the plan blog or to preservation@dcr.nh.gov. In order to expedite publication of the final plan, please comment as soon as possible, and no later than November 2, 2010.

Hearing from so many people from across the state has been the highlight for the Division of Historical Resources while assembling this plan. Thanks so much for your assistance and for all of your aspiring stories about preserving and promoting historical and archaeological resources in New Hampshire.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What New Hampshire is Thinking and Doing

Last month, the staff and partners of the DHR condensed the information gathered at our five brainstorming sessions across the state into a short online questionnaire, with the goal of wide distribution and response.  It was distributed to the 2300+ people on the DHR’s contact list, with a request to forward the questionnaire on to others.  The response was phenomenal; by the August 27th deadline, 589 had responded. 

A summary of the results is available here.  Answers to the first 11 questions appear as charts.  The final question asked what respondents would be working on over the next five years to preserve and promote historical and archeological resources.  The answers are inspiring and comprehensive, and they appear in their entirety.

Did you miss your chance to respond?  If so, feel free to add a comment.  Surprised by the results?  We’d like to hear about that as well.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Gold Stars and More Questions

It has taken the DHR quite a few weeks to digest all of the information gathered in our five public brainstorming sessions across the state. Attendance at the sessions was terrific, and everyone came prepared to contribute. Gold stars go especially to our Littleton attendees, who exhausted our facilitator, Stephen Gianotti, and note taker, Mary Kate Ryan, with eight pages of success stories, challenges and goals! Wondering what others said in sessions elsewhere? Click on the tab above for “Public Brainstorming Sessions” to see all 32 pages of notes.

Although all of the information gathered will be reflected in the state’s next five plan, we’ve condensed the 32 pages into themes to create a short questionnaire. Please check your email inboxes shortly for the link to the questionnaire and send in your response before August 27th. The sooner the better!  We are estimating that it will take less than ten minutes to respond.

Another way to spread the message is to forward it on to your email lists or listservs. We are hoping for a diverse and large number of questionnaire responses, and appreciate your help in sending it on to others.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We are part of the climate change solution

This past weekend, the NH DHR participated in the2nd annual Local Energy Solutions Conference.  We heard emphasized over and over how local changes and local efforts were the key to making the grand sweeping changes that need to be made to help our country reduce its dependence on foreign energy, especially oil.

In New England, especially in New Hampshire, our solutions have always been local.  We may have more to offer than we think.  Our historic building stock dates, to a large part, to a period of time when energy was not cheap, when mechanical systems did not exist, and when thrift and common sense made the most out of every aspect of building.

Historic buildings in New Hampshire often feature cheap, sustainable, energy efficient features as a matter of course.  They tend to be oriented to maximize winter sun exposure, minimize summer sun exposure, and make the most of wind patterns.  They are built of sustainable natural materials -- brick, granite, and wood.  When many of the buildings in New England were built, every degree of heat was paid for with sweat -- chopping wood.  These are, admittedly, broad generalizations, but many of these buildings have served our families and communities for one or two centuries, with changes in use demonstrating their adaptability.

Historic preservation is part of the solution, and explaining this is part of our plan for the future of the field.  Broader partnerships need to be created so that we can not only explain how preservation serves larger goals of sustainability and community character, but also how the many "green" movements today can help to advance the cause of preservation.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Saving Your Favorite Places

The NH DHR has compiled a database of the places that New Hampshire citizens cited as their favorite places in New Hampshire.  At each of our planning sessions, we posted a large map of the state and asked our public participants to put  sticky notes on their favorite sites.

We had a huge array of sites, diverse in geography and type, and what this list reminds us is that citizens' experiences of life in New Hampshire are inevitably linked to our rich history.  Our historic places tell stories.  The question now is which stories will we preserve for future generations?  What stories will they be able to tell of us?  How will we hand down the history that is in our hands?

Coming later in the summer will be a questionnaire, the second phase of our public input gathering for the State Preservation Plan.  Your thoughts and ideas are necessary, not only to craft this plan, but to make it viable.  Please watch for the questionnaire, and if you are not on our electronic mailing list yet, please join.  You can subscribe to our newsletter on the DHR home website; you can follow this blog; you can send an e-mail to preservation AT dcr DOT nh DOT gov and ask to be added.  (Please don't leave your e-mail address in a comment on this post, as you are exposing yourself to spam that way.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Seeing as this is a weekend of memory, Monday a day of honoring those who have died in defense of this nation, whose history and story preservationists work to protect, what memorials does your town have?

Do you have a bridge to honor veterans?  Which war?

Are there holes in your historic fabric?  Buildings and sites whose presence is missed?

Are the cemeteries in your town decorated for Memorial Day?  Do you have a cemetery commission who cares for these places?

Is there a statue in town commemorating soldiers who served?  For which wars?  How does your community treat that statue today?

Please tell us about the memorials in your community in the comments.

As we remember those who have fought to protect, let us also remember what they fought to preserve.

For more history of Memorial Day, please visit the Library of Congress website.

[Photos: NH 14th Regiment Flags; Portsmouth, Memorial Bridge plaque; Concord, Railroad Station; Center Sandwich, Cemetery; Candia, Soldiers Memorial]

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Education and the next generation

We have now completed all 5 of our scheduled public discussions on the NH State Preservation Plan.  Whew!  We had, all told, almost 100 people come out to talk about what preservation means to them and their communities, and we have an array of comments and considerations to process for the next stage of our planning -- the questionnaire we will be sending out.  Please make sure you are on our mailing list if you would like to receive this -- visit our website to sign up.

After our capstone session in Portsmouth Monday night, most of our staff were able to attend the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance annual awards session last night, which honored the people and projects that have made preservation meaningful to our communities this past year.  It was an amazing way to celebrate the successes that are our inspiration and fuel for going forward.  Please go read more about this year's winners at the NHPA website.

But we aren't done.  This is not our plan, not the DHR's plan -- we do a work plan every year for the state and NPS.  This is the state's plan, the plan for the DHR, our state partners, local partners, non-profit partners, for history organizations, heritage commissions, historic districts, conservationists, and anyone who loves New Hampshire.  And one of the things we heard over and over at our public sessions was that preservation needs more volunteers, more converts, more people engaged with our ideas and our projects on a consistent basis.  Additionally, New Hampshire has an aging population, and many of our history and preservation organizations worry about who will become the stewards after they can no longer perform the tasks.

We need the young.

One of our success stories, created out of concerns and ideas raised during the last State Preservation Plan, is Project Archaeology.  Project Archaeology acknowledges that the best way for professionals to reach children is to train their teachers.  Our archaeology staff understands preservation; the teachers understand how to convey this information to their students; those sometimes "invisible" resources become respected, understood, and then cared for by a whole new generation.

The idea of "place-based education came up in more than one of the planning sessions.  History is more meaningful to all students when they can relate it to their own lives -- so learning about their towns and the places they are familiar with can often be a gateway to a lifetime love of the past.  Other organizations have pioneered this effort, and we can learn from them.

The National Park Service has a program called Teaching with Historic Places.  The State of Arkansas has a Youth Education initiative.  There are likely many other initiatives and programs that could be instructive for New Hampshire.  Do you know of any to share?  How would you or your organization reach out to the youth in your community?  What New Hampshire communities already have youth education programs in history and preservation?  Tell us in your comments.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bid to save historic sites gains support

The Portsmouth Herald article on our Portsmouth session
for the 5 year preservation plan.
By Dave Choate
May 18, 2010 2:00 AM

PORTSMOUTH — How do you save history from becoming history?
That was the question pondered Monday night by local preservationists and members of the state Department of Historical Resources, who gathered at the Discover Portsmouth Center for a public input session regarding a multi-year New Hampshire Preservation Plan to be created by the department.  read full article

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Last Chance!

To participate in one of our regional conversations face-to-face, that is.  Please join us in Portsmouth, at the Discover Portsmouth Center, from 4-6 pm on Monday, 17 May.

We will still be blogging and updating, but if you'd like to participate in one of these energizing sessions, the Seacoast is our last stop.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Planning for the Plan

We are now halfway through our series of public input sessions for the New Hampshire State Preservation Plan, and we at the DHR are amazed at the thoughtful and thought-provoking picture being painted of historic preservation in our state.  Our meetings in Concord, Keene, and at the Office of Energy and Planning conference in Nashua have yielded an amazing array of success stories, as well as challenges, issues, and goals for the future.

We have two more sessions scheduled: a North Country session in Littleton, tomorrow, Tuesday May 11, and a Seacoast session in Portsmouth on Monday, May 17.  Please join us there.

In the meantime, we would like to leave you with a short list of the successes that have been shared with us.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to share your or your town's successes in the comments.

  • The Seven to Save program of the NH Preservation Alliance
  • Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP)
  • Plymouth State University's Historic Preservation Certificate program
  • Laconia, Belknap Mills rehabilitation
  • Historic Preservation chapters in some town master plans
  • RSA 79 D and E, tax incentives 
  • Downtown Keene Historic District
  • Jaffrey Mill rehabilitation
  • preservation of the Stone Arch Bridge in Keene
  • Robie's Store, Hooksett, listed in the NH State Register of Historic Places
  • State Register listing of old Salem Town Hall kicked off more preservation in the town
  • Langdon covered bridges rehabilitated by volunteers
And there are so many, many more that we have not listed or have not yet heard about.  Please share your preservation success stories with us.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Diners and Bridges

Today, the preservation plan brainstorming session travels to the Monadnock region to gather more ideas on where preservation should be heading in the next five years and beyond in New Hampshire. The region’s resources were showcased just this weekend on the New England Cable Network series “One Tank Trips” – see the diner in Peterborough and more here.

The Keene Stone Arch Bridge on the former Cheshire Railroad is another special place. Towering fifty feet above the Branch River, with a clear span of about ninety feet, the bridge was built in 1847 to carry trains; today it carries hikers and rock climbers. State Architectural Historian James L. Garvin writes about the bridge’s history and a local group’s efforts to preserve this monumental stone structure here.

The bridge and the ad hoc group working to maintain it have been given a huge hand up through two grant programs – New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program and Preserve America, through the National Park Service. Grants from these programs will fund an evaluation of the bridge’s condition and needs, in preparation for actual conservation work. Additional funds are needed for this next step.

The Keene project is a terrific example of grassroots preservation – local people volunteering their time and abilities to care for a landmark that means a great deal to the community, and securing grant funding to do so. But both of the grant programs being used in Keene are now struggling as well. The federal government has announced that Preserve America may not be funded next year, and the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program has faced recent budget cuts, along with many other state agencies. In today’s economy, what is the best way to make the case that preservation protects infrastructure, creates jobs and keeps New Hampshire a place that future generations will recognize and cherish?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"This Place Matters"

A very thoughtful group got together this afternoon in Concord for the first brainstorming session on the state’s new preservation plan. Attendees enjoyed refreshments, did a little non-plan business, and pinpointed their favorite historical places on a map of the state. Focusing on the day’s topic, the group also worked on answering these questions:

1. What are our success stories over the last five years?

2. What are the social, economic, political, legal and environmental trends that impact these resources – for better and for worse?

3. Where are the information gaps? Resources, tools, policies or programs?

4. What are the goals and objectives for the next five years? And beyond?

Later posts will summarize the discussions in Concord; right now see the comments below for some of the most special places in the state.

Feeling Rushed or Shy?

If you are feeling shy about being first to comment on our blog, here’s a way to contribute without spending a lot of time mobilizing your thoughts, writing, revising, and spell-checking.

Please share one or two of your favorite preservation quotations (with credits or citations, if possible) to help build a collection for the Preservation Plan.  Check the current plan for examples, such as:

“What do we mean by planning? We simply mean providing in advance for the best ways of meeting our expected future needs and avoiding potential problems. We all make plans in arranging our own individual affairs. Those who do not plan ahead soon find themselves and their families in serious difficulties. If personal planning is necessary, it is equally important for us as individual citizens to join together in planning for our community. Indeed, it is even more important, for lack of personal planning ordinarily hurts only a single individual or family; failure of a community to plan may cause untold problems affecting all its citizens.”
Acworth New Hampshire: Comprehensive Master Plan, 1979.  Acworth, NH: Town of Acworth, 1979.

Or think about Daniel Webster’s famous observation (an online search will return multiple versions):  "It is wise for us to recur to the history of our ancestors. Those who do not look upon themselves as a link, connecting the past with the future, do not perform their duty to the world." 

Monday, April 12, 2010

NH State Preservation Plan 2011-2015

In order to compile the next NH State Preservation Plan we need your goals, challenges and directions.

It's important to emphasize that the plan does not set a path for what the DHR will be doing over the next five years, but for what the entire state hopes to do to preserve its historical buildings, neighborhoods, downtowns, archeological sites and traditional landscapes.

Please take a look at the current plan, and start to consider how it should be updated. Read over the progress report that begins on page four, and think of the preservation success stories that have meant the most to you over the last five years. Please post your comments below.  Photos are terrific as well.

Thanks in advance for your ideas and your help!