Fund-raising The Next Step For Barn

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, June 7, 2004

HAMPTON - The historic barn across from Drakeside Road is gone but will not be lost forever.

Members of the Historical Society spent last week dismantling the barn piece by piece and moving the 200-year-old structure off the property, which formally housed the Sanders & McDermott law firm.

Moving the barn by June 15 proved to be the easy part, but rebuilding on the Tuck Museum grounds may take some time, according to Historical Society member Ben Moore.

In the future, the society hopes to raise the $60,000 needed to rebuild the structure.

Moore said he was very pleased that the barn could be saved and that everything fell into place.

Moore said the plan to save the barn almost didn't come to fruition because of several setbacks with insurance.

A plan to save the barn was developed because the new owners of the barn were planning to give the Historical Society a donation to save the barn and remove it from their property.

The owners decided to pull out of the deal and raze the 200-year-old structure but later had a change of heart and finalized an agreement with the Historical Society.

Although the owner of the property is listed in Hampton assessor's office as the 235 Lafayette Road Trust, which is the address of the house and barn, tax bills are being sent to Strategic Independent Agents Alliance in Portsmouth, the future tenants of the property.

Moore said volunteers worked relentlessly to ensure the barn was moved.

On Friday, a crane, supplied by Crane Construction, dismantled what was left of the structure, which was stripped by numerous volunteers.

One volunteer was Chet Riley, who knows more than the average person about what it takes to remove and restore a 200-year-old barn.

Riley, who's also a member of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, restored his own aging barn to its former glory last year. He has helped restore numerous barns throughout New England.

Riley, along with many volunteers, aided in removing the barn's clapboard exterior.

With the barn gone, the Historical Society is gearing up to start fund-raising efforts to rebuild.

It needs to raise the money for a new foundation as well as shingles and a new roof.

While the Historical Society conducts numerous fund-raisers throughout the year, that money is earmarked to help fund the museum.

"We want to raise as much as we can by just pure outright donations from residents," Moore said.

Moore said all donations in excess of $100 will be recognized on a permanent plaque in the barn. Four levels of recognition will be available: Donor: $100 and more; Supporter: $250 and more; Sponsor: $500 and more; and Benefactor: $1,000 and more.

According to the Historical Society, the barn was originally built in 1796, as an addition to a tavern owned by the Leavitt family.

The Leavitt family owned a tavern in North Hampton, but it burned in 1733, during Sunday church services.

Back then, residents came together to help the Leavitt family rebuild the tavern.

In 1751, residents persuaded the Leavitts to construct a new tavern on Lafayette Road. The Historical Society has a hunch Capt. Caleb Toppan, a merchant from Newburyport, Mass., built the barn, but research is ongoing.

Moore said the barn was not a working barn, but was used for housing a couple of cows, horses and a carriage.

In 1988, the house and barn was sold to the law firm of Sanders & McDermott, which in turn sold it in 2004.