A New Home For the Old Homestead
Adapted and updated from an article by M.I. MacDonald
Atlantic News, September 2, 1999
HAMPTON -- In a concerted effort involving Hampton's Heritage Commission, the town's Historical Society, the department of public works, and local citizens and businessmen, one of Hampton's remaining classic structures has found a new home. The Blake cooper shop, which for many decades made its home on the rolling grounds of Wayside Farm (the former Holman family homestead), was relocated for the second time in its existence.
The circa 1820 cooper shop was moved to its new location on Friday, September 3, in a group effort that brought real estate developers and historic preservationists together in a unique, though temporary, partnership. The cooperage was moved from its current location on a subdivision of Wayside Farm owned by local developer Green & Company, to its new resting place by the old blacksmith shop, also a Heritage Commission/Historical Society project from several years ago. This concentrates a charming chunk of Hampton history in a small area, as the cooperage now sits directly behind Hampton's Victory Garden.
The Cooper Shop at 62 Little River
Road, with Joanne Blake, daughter
of Winnie & Mae Blake,
sitting on well-head in 1944.
[Photo courtesy Stanwood Brown]
The move was the culmination of a project which, by necessity, had to come together quickly in its final stage, despite the fact that uncertainty dogged the project over the summer as the fate of the cooperage hung undecided. Fortunately, Hampton's Conservation Commission was able to give the go-ahead for relocation of the structure to town-owned land ("Viviane Marcotte has helped us, of course, all the way." comments Ansell Palmer) under the Commission's direct jurisdiction.
Along with the donation of equipment and labor by the town, the DPW, and former Hampton town selectman Michael Plouffe, as well as the negotiating and planning efforts of several individuals involved with the project, the salvation of the shop was sealed in a surprise move on the part of Green and Company Building and Development.
In generous cooperation with the efforts to salvage and relocate the shop, Michael and Richard Green of Green and Company agreed to donate the shop to the town and cooperate with the preparations for its move from their property, provided the relocation of the shop be made so that Green and Company could continue their development project on the former grounds of Wayside Farm. Green and Company also paid the cost of the moving and setup, in conjunction with some donated labor.
"It's nice that it's going to be done. We didn't know for a while. Green and Company needed it out of the way one way or the other, so it's good that action could be taken to save it," said Palmer with evident satisfaction, as the successful end to the project got to be in sight.
Preparations for the move were quick and efficient. The building was first placed on blocks, while it awaited clearance from the various and multiple utility companies, before the moving route could be confirmed and traversed.
"We're pretty much ready," agreed Ansell Palmer before the move, affiliated with both the Historical Society and the Heritage Commission, and a key figure in linking the diverse individuals and commissions now involved in the project. "Bob Pothier (of the First Period Colonial in Kingston, New Hampshire) and his assistant (John Auger) spent about a day preparing it. And, the DPW has gone to clear the area where it's going to sit. It's ready to go."
The project quickly became a joint effort from the beginning, says Palmer.
"It came about that John Holman contacted me, then I contacted the president of the Heritage Commission -- Steve McGuinness -- and it was discussed at a Heritage Commission meeting late last spring, then things just evolved from there."
The organizers had originally anticipated a great need for volunteers to do the clearing of the land, "but the town of Hampton and the DPW has taken care of that," said Palmer, with former Selectman Michael Plouffe bringing his equipment, manpower and expertise -- not to mention his truck -- on moving day to load up and negotiate the roughly 3/4 mile route the house took to its new site. So, with cooperation and initiative, the foundation of the Seacoast's historic heritage is being rebuilt -- one step at a time.
LOADED UP AND READY TO GO.
The folks involved in the relocation of the Blake cooper shop are shown here with the structure after it was loaded onto a trailer prior to being transported to its new site on Barbour Road. Standing left to right are John Auger of First Period Colonial Restoration, Michael Green of Green and Company, Bob Pothier of First Period Colonial, Michael Plouff, Ansell Palmer, and John Holman.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]