Monday, June 18, 2012

The Heritage House Program

Hello, visitors! Welcome to the Strawbery Banke Museum Historic Preservation blog! The summer of 2012 is in full swing and we hope you consider a visit to the museum in the coming months to witness all the wonderful opportunities and events that Strawbery Banke has to offer.

As a nationally registered historic site and museum, one of Strawbery Banke’s goals is to preserve the historic integrity of the 35 buildings located on the ten-acre property. Curators, preservationists, architects and contractors have been hard at work creating and implementing the exciting plan that will rehabilitate ten underutilized properties on museum grounds in order to lease them as residential or commercial spaces. This endeavor has been named The Heritage House Program. And through this rehabilitation program Strawbery Banke has three goals:

--The restoration of the exterior to a specific period in order for them to remain an integral part of the museum.

--To provide Portsmouth with attractive residential and office spaces for rent in these historic houses, returning underused space back into use.

--To generate an income stream that will not only help to maintain the buildings, but contribute to the long-term financial sustainability of Strawbery Banke.

As of now, the Lowd, Winn, Hough, Shapley-Drisco, Jones, Rueben Shapley and Wheelright Houses have been completed and rented. These are a mix of residential and commercial units. Among current rehabilitations is an ambitious project underway to rehabilitate the Shapley Townhouse and convert the interior to office space.

Future posts will explore the Shapley Townhouse project, as well as ongoing work at the Leonard Cotton Tenant House and the planning process for the Thales G. Yeaton House. This blog will document the progress made on current projects as well as the beginning stages of the work being done on new ones.

 While it is an expensive and time-consuming process, it is also one that will add financial stability to Strawbery Banke, and educationally enrich the lives of visitors and tenants who visit the museum every summer. The museum staff is very excited to start and finish these projects, as well as document all that happens in between!

In order to remain historically accurate, the museum will follow the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for the treatment of historic properties. There are four different types of treatment that can occur under these standards and they include preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction. They are defined by the Secretary as follows:

What is Preservation?
"Preservation is defined as the act or process of applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and materials of an historic property. Work, including preliminary measures to protect and stabilize the property, generally focuses upon the ongoing maintenance and repair of historic materials and features rather than extensive replacement and new construction. New exterior additions are not within the scope of this treatment; however, the limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a preservation project." 

What is Rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation is defined as the act or process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values.” 

What is Restoration?
"Restoration is defined as the act or process of accurately depicting the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history and reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period. The limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a restoration project." 

What is Reconstruction?
“Reconstruction is defined as the act or process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location.”

Here at Strawbery Banke we work to rehabilitate and preserve historic structures and landscapes. Countless hours of research are done not only on the physical conditions of the houses, but the family histories as well. By focusing on more than just the architectural aspects of preservation, Strawbery Banke creates a learning environment for people of all ages, and visitors from all over the country. The Heritage House Program opens up amazing possibilities to locals or people planning to move to the state who wish to learn more about Portsmouth and its rich history. 

Cotton Tenant House Restoration

Grants from LCHIP & 1772 Foundation

If you would like more information you can visit or come visit Strawbery Banke and see the process for yourself! Updates on the Heritage House Program will be posted regularly throughout the process, so please come back and continue reading. We look forward to seeing you at the museum!    

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