Stephen Hasham House Will Be Saved
Charlestown Board to Continue Review of New Store on Historic Site
The Hasham House, built around 1790 on Main Street in Charlestown, N.H., on Sept. 13, 2013. The house, which is currently empty, is slated to be moved to make way for a new development.
Valley News - Sarah Priestap
Marge Reed of North Charlestown, an archivist at the Charlestown Historical Society, pulls down a box of photographs and documents concerning the Hasham Family at the Charlestown Historical Society Office in Charlestown, N.H., on Sept. 13, 2013.
Valley News - Sarah Priestap
Charlestown — If the Planning Board approves the site plan for a new convenience store, the historic house that now stands on the property will be dismantled and saved.
Besides the review — and possible decision — of the site plan Tuesday, the board will also hear a preliminary proposal for a new discount retailer on Sullivan Street.
Town Administrator Dave Edkins said lastweek the discussion with Dollar General would not include a presentation of a site plan and described it as an “informal preliminary discussion” with the board.
“Sort of ‘this is what we are considering, what do you think,’ ” Edkins said about what the board will hear.
Dollar General is a national retail chain headquartered in Tennessee. It owns more than 10,000 stores in 40 states including one in Newport and one in Windsor.
Edkins said the proposed location is a lot on Sullivan Street behind R & K Auto Service, at the intersection with Main Street.
“They have an option (to buy) on the property,” Edkins said.
Across the intersection is where Champlain Oil wants to construct a new Jiffy Mart with a Subway restaurant and four gas pumps. It would replace the existing store to the south at the corner of Main and Depot streets.
The new Jiffy Mart site is where the historic Stephen Hasham house stands. But the house will not be demolished if the new convenience store is built.
Wayne McCutcheon, who owns an engineering services business in Claremont, said last week the house will be dismantled and moved to property he owns on the Acworth Road in Charlestown, where the historic Little Red Schoolhouse was moved in 1999.
“I’ll be getting that house so it won’t be going to a landfill in the back of a dump truck,” said McCutcheon, a member of the Charlestown Historical Society. “He (Hasham) was important to Charlestown so we will preserve that house.”
McCutcheon said when he heard of Champlain Oil’s plans, “he knew what was coming,” meaning the house, which dates to around 1820, would likely be torn down.
He contacted Champlain Oil representatives, who he has worked with in the past, and they agreed to allow the house to be taken apart. The company has a purchase and sales agreement on the property.
McCutcheon said Keeper Barn of Norwich is under contract to take down the Hasham house and “catalog it” if plans for the new Jiffy Mart are approved. Keeper Barn recently dismantled a home in Claremont on River Road that dated to the late 1700s and was originally owned by the family that operated the ferry across the Connecticut River to Vermont.
McCutcheon said the long-term plan would be to reconstruct the house but added that would be years from now.
Hasham was born in Boston in 1761 and came to Charlestown when he was in his 20s. He was a clockmaker and survey instrument maker as well as a farmer, land speculator, and builder. He constructed several prominent buildings in town, including his own house.
Charlestown Heritage Commission Chairwoman Joyce Higgins said saving the house is both good and bad news.
“We lose a house on the (National) Historic Register, arguably the most historic one the town has left on the register,” Higgins said. “People come to see the house and now we will have nothing to show them. We feel bad about the loss to Main Street.”
Higgins praised McCutcheon for stepping forward to save the home but wished it could be reconstructed sooner rather than later.
“This is what we feel bad about because we won’t live to see it happen.”
Matt Wamsganz, planner for Champlain Oil, said last week they are working on modifying the Jiffy Mart site plan based on comments by the board at the Sept. 6 meeting regarding some waiver requests on zoning regulations.
“The board is definitely concerned and we are making our best effort to either minimize or eliminate them,” Wamsganz said about the waiver requests.
At the Sept. 6 meeting, some board members, along with some residents, said Champlain was trying to fit too much onto the parcel of less than an acre. Waivers to have the required landscape buffer along portions of the property lines to the north and south reduced from 15 to 10 feet, appeared to concern the board the most.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org