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New Hampshire Preservation Project

Strawbery Banke, 1962
Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth, N.H., 1962. "View in 1962, across the center of the Strawbery Banke Historical Preservation Project Area, looking north, showing accumulation of rubble and commercial junk piles as well as some non-period houses slated for removal." Photograph by Douglas Armsden. Photograph the property of James L. Garvin, New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources


“In 1970, fifty-three mills in New England closed, so we were not alone... It became obvious to us quickly that what was at stake here was not just old buildings but really a whole way of life where you can live in a small place and work here and be self-sufficient. So putting that mill back into work was a major goal for us. That's when we switched from preservation to economic redevelopment, they have been a partnership ever since.”

-John J. Colony III, Vice Chairman of Historic Harrisville, Inc., founded in 1971 to preserve the integrity of the historic village of Harrisville as a working community.

The concept of historic preservation is redefined every time a city, town, or group of individuals struggles to figure out what of the past is worth saving. The countless decisions about preservation in the state of New Hampshire are the focus of one of Historic New England’s latest partnerships in its 100 Years, 100 Communities initiative to preserve and share recent history. Historic New England and three New Hampshire-based organizations are partnering on a documentary film on historic preservation projects in the state since 1950. A film crew from Blind Squirrel Productions, based at Timberlane Regional High School, and staff at Historic New England have interviewed people involved in preservation across the state, including politicians, restoration carpenters, and planners. They have collected preservation stories about projects like Portsmouth’s Strawbery Banke Museum, which rescued an urban neighborhood from demolition; Historic Harrisville, which revitalized a dying mill village; and Berlin’s Northern Forest Heritage Park, which preserves the history of the once-mighty pulp paper industry.

Using archival photographs and on-camera interviews of people in all areas of these preservation efforts, the documentary portrays the evolution of historic preservation to include conservation, restoration, multiple-use facilities, and economics. Historic New England’s previous collaboration with Blind Squirrel Productions resulted in the award-winning film on Berlin, At the River’s Edge, which has received national recognition.

Read excerpts from interviews:

Interview with Jane Nylander, December 19, 2010

Interview with Judson D. Hale, Sr., August 12, 2010

Please note that the opinions expressed in these oral histories are those of the interview subjects, and not Historic New England. For more information, e-mail community engagement at Historic New England


New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources

New Hampshire Preservation Alliance

Timberlane Regional High School


New Hampshire Preservation Project