Historic barn saved

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, May 21, 2004

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON - A deal to save a 200 year-old barn across from Drakeside Road has been finalized.

The on-again, off-again project was back on track last week when the owner, a real-estate trust, put back on the table a $7,000 donation to the historical society to dismantle the barn and move it to Tuck Museum.

The owner, who previously decided against giving the donation and indicated it attended to raze the 200-year-old structure, had a change of heart.

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.

Historical Society Chairman Ben Moore said lawyers of the trust contacted him Thursday, May 13, and a written agreement to save the barn is in place.

The trust would provide the historic society with $7,000, but the barn would have to be off the property by June 18.

Another stipulation in the agreement forces the Historical Society to provide liability insurance for all the volunteers who will aid in taking down the barn piece by piece.

Although rallying up volunteers to aid in moving the barn is not a problem, finding an insurance company willing to write them a policy was, said Moore.

Moore said he went back to the owners to ask for a waiver, and they have agreed.

Heritage Commission Chairman Elizabeth Aykroyd said not only does the Historical Society have to sign the agreement, but the Heritage Commission has to sign as well.

At its May 12 meeting, the commission voted to revoke the owners demolition permit to destroy the barn. At that time, the commission wanted to stall the demolition to find someone to save the barn.

The agreement states that if the Historical Society does not remove the barn by June 18, the owners will be able to demolish it.

The Heritage Commission voted to give Aykroyd the power to sign it.

"I'm going to sign it," said Aykroyd.

Moore said if all goes well the barn will be moved piece by piece in the upcoming weeks.

After the move is complete, the Historical Society will begin raising money to restore the barn at the Tuck Museum.

Moore said once the barn is restored next to the Tuck Museum, the Historical Society plans to use it to store its farm collection.

"We will also be looking to have community events in the barn," Moore said. "We could have a barn dance. ... We will be trying to come up with different ways to utilize this space."

The Historical Society, as well as the Heritage Commission, said the barn was worth saving because of its historical significance.

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.