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?