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Greeley House Needs Face-Lift

‘We Were Afraid That Whoever Bought It Would Simply Tear It Down’

  • Enfield Village Association board member Douglas Smith stands in the Greeley House in a room with plaster and split lath walls in Enfield, N.H. on Jan. 22, 2014.  <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Enfield Village Association board member Douglas Smith stands in the Greeley House in a room with plaster and split lath walls in Enfield, N.H. on Jan. 22, 2014.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sun shines through frost-covered windows at the Greeley House in Enfield, N.H.,on Jan. 22, 2014. The Enfield Village Association owns the building. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Sun shines through frost-covered windows at the Greeley House in Enfield, N.H.,on Jan. 22, 2014. The Enfield Village Association owns the building.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  •  Built in 1823, the Greeley House is  one of the oldest houses in Enfield's National Register Historic District and the only survivor of the three houses once owned by the Shakers, who housed their mill manager there. Later it became the Town Clerk's office and telephone exchange. The Enfield Village Association  acquired the house in forclosure to save it from almost certain destruction and now seeks public support to renovate it to contain the EVA office and a residential rental.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck<br/><br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Built in 1823, the Greeley House is one of the oldest houses in Enfield's National Register Historic District and the only survivor of the three houses once owned by the Shakers, who housed their mill manager there. Later it became the Town Clerk's office and telephone exchange. The Enfield Village Association acquired the house in forclosure to save it from almost certain destruction and now seeks public support to renovate it to contain the EVA office and a residential rental.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Enfield Village Association board member Douglas Smith stands in the Greeley House in a room with plaster and split lath walls in Enfield, N.H. on Jan. 22, 2014.  <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • Sun shines through frost-covered windows at the Greeley House in Enfield, N.H.,on Jan. 22, 2014. The Enfield Village Association owns the building. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  •  Built in 1823, the Greeley House is  one of the oldest houses in Enfield's National Register Historic District and the only survivor of the three houses once owned by the Shakers, who housed their mill manager there. Later it became the Town Clerk's office and telephone exchange. The Enfield Village Association  acquired the house in forclosure to save it from almost certain destruction and now seeks public support to renovate it to contain the EVA office and a residential rental.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck<br/><br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

Enfield — For Douglas Smith, the small, red house on the corner of Main Street and Shaker Hill Road doesn’t just represent Enfield’s extensive past; it holds promise for the future as well.

Built in 1823 and known as the Greeley House, the structure has fallen into a state of disrepair in recent years. Paint is faded and peeling, some windows are boarded up and others are broken.

When the property went into foreclosure in 2012, Smith said, the land was assessed to be more valuable than the house itself. Concerned over its future, the nonprofit Enfield Village Association bought the Greeley House for $40,000 that summer.

“We were afraid that whoever bought it would simply tear it down,” said Smith, a member of the village association and chairman of the Greeley House renovation committee.

The house was named after David Greeley, who built it in 1823. Not much is known about Greeley himself, but his namesake building has a colorful history . The house was owned by the Shakers, served as the town’s telephone exchange, and has been called home by a number of families.

The village association is a private nonprofit established in 2000 to rehabilitate Enfield’s historic district. Smith, a retired banker, said the Greeley House is at the center of that plan.

“The ultimate goal is to have a self-generating effect so that the downtown begins to prosper again,” Smith said. “We haven’t reached the point where it starts to snowball, as it has in other communities.”

The association plans to put its own offices in the front two rooms of the Greeley house, and the rest of the house eventually will be rented to residential tenants.

The projected budget for the Greeley House renovation is $325,000. While the village association does receive some funding from the town, none of that money will be used for the Greeley House project. Instead, the construction will be funded through private funds, volunteer labor and a capital campaign.

At a public forum Wednesday night at the Community Building, Smith and others discussed how the Enfield Village Association could gain broad-based support for the project. The association set a goal of raising $245,000 for the capital campaign. So far, $60,00 has been raised.

“This project is self-sustaining, and is very good for the EVA and the town,” said Wendell Smith, a member of the Greeley House Committee. (The Smiths are neighbors but are not related.)

Most of the 15 people in attendance at the forum have been involved with the Greeley project in one way or another. Many felt they could gain more attention for the project if the capital campaign began after a Town Meeting vote in March on a proposed $21.5 million renovation of Mascoma Valley Regional High School.

Some renovations have already begun on the interior of the Greeley House.

Old plaster has been stripped off the walls, revealing its uncommon plank board construction and crooked split-board lath. The house’s foundation has also been repaired. Much of the work done so far has been carried out by volunteers.

“Our objective is to make the exterior look like it always has but still build a modern, efficient interior,” Douglas Smith said.

The village association expects to move its offices into the Greeley House by the end of this spring. But more funds will be needed to fully renovate the remainder of the house. After the offices are ready, Smith said the group likely would turn its attention to the house’s exterior.

The Greeley House is located in the National Register Historic District in Enfield Village. The Shakers, whose community grew to 300 by around 1850, acquired the building in 1835 to house their gristmill manager.

With the gristmill, Shaker mill and Shaker boarding house now all gone, the Greeley House is the last remnant of the industrial center in north Enfield that was spurred by the Shaker community.

“It makes an important connection for us in telling the Shaker story,” said Mary Ann Hagen, a volunteer at the Enfield Shaker Museum who has been involved with the Greeley House project.

After the Shakers sold the house in 1889, it was owned by a number families throughout the 20th century. During the early 1900s, the town’s telephone exchange was located there as well.

Enfield historian Marjorie Carr said she’s known a lot of people who have lived in the Greeley House over the years.

“It’s nice to see it coming back,” she said. “It has value to the historic district.”