City to take fresh look at what's historic, what's not

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A look down Hanson Street, Rochester, during horse and buggy days. Exact date unknown. The first building on right is where Freedom Beauty is today. (Courtesy photo)

ROCHESTER - The City of Rochester has contracted with Preservation Company to update its 1983 National Register of Historic Places Inventory and Historic Survey, under the guidance of the Planning and Development Department and the Historic District Commission.

The project is funded by a grant awarded by the Certified Local Government Grant Program of the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, which is federally funded through the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Preservation Company will provide an inventory of culturally and historically significant sites and resources within the district. This will include a property-specific explanation of architectural features, a current photograph of each site, and any historic photos that are found during research.

They will also identify the period of cultural and historic significance, whether the structure contributes to the local historic district or has been altered in such a way that it no longer contributes. They will identify which buildings have been destroyed or demolished since 1983 and evaluate expanding the local district to include the architecturally significant properties on Wakefield Street and mid-century modern buildings downtown.

"The Historic District Commission looks forward to having increased resources for evaluating projects," said Molly Meulenbroek, Chair of the Historic District Commission. "An updated survey of properties within the Rochester Historic District will provide the Commission and property owners a thorough resource to guide redevelopment efforts downtown."

Nicolette Womack of the city's Planning Department is focused on supporting the Historic District Commission.

"Updating the inventory after almost 40 years will bring a fresh look at identifying our historic assets and help provide current information on the district," said Womack. "The project also requires City staff to compile historic documents, which we hope to make more accessible to the public."

The survey will increase public awareness and appreciation of historic properties, expand access to existing information and guidance, prioritize historic preservation's integral role in interdisciplinary planning efforts to address critical changes facing the Granite State, and incorporate historic preservation as an element in local, regional, state, and federal decision making.

Lynne Monroe, Principal of Preservation Company, was the director of the Regional Planning Commission when the 1983 National Register of Historic Places Inventory and Historic Survey was completed.

"It's fascinating to watch Rochester evolve," said Monroe. "Things looked very different back in 1983 and it'll be interesting to compare."

Updates on the project will be given at the regular Historic District Commission meetings. The project is anticipated to be completed by July 2021, however, this may be extended to allow adequate time for thorough research.

Visit or contact the Planning Department at (603) 335-1338 to learn more.

This article was submitted by City of Rochester.

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