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Effingham Preservation Society honored for efforts to save Drake Store Building

The Weare Drake Store Building (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
May 31, 2017
EFFINGHAM — The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance describes them most fittingly as "a scrappy" organization, and the Effingham Preservation Society has proven to be just that.

Over the past 15 years, the Society has worked diligently, and was honored May 9 in Concord as a recipient of the Alliance's Preservation Achievement Award for the outstanding rehabilitation of the Weare Drake Store Building.

From the Alliance's Web site, "For fifteen years, the Effingham Preservation Society has worked to rehabilitate the Weare Drake Store Building. The 200-year-old building, which throughout its history has served as a general store, the Carroll Literary Institute, and Effingham Grange, now serves as the home of the Effingham Preservation Society and as a community gathering space."

The Society repaired the foundation and fire escape, re-shingled the roof, restored windows, created handicap access, added septic and water, refinished floors, updated the electrical, and improved kitchen facilities to allow expanded use while respecting the legacy of the building and its existing spaces. Like the store keepers, students, and Grangers in years past, the Effingham Preservation Society has breathed new life into the building and village. They have hosted concerts, presentations, storytelling, art shows, plant sales, and weekly bake sales with Coffee and Conversation.  Proceeds from these events, a timely bequest, and annual membership dues of just five dollars, help fund the building's restoration.

Karen Payne, President of the Effingham Preservation Society, said that the building's rehabilitation was more than about aesthetics.

"We've been preserving Effingham one slice of pie at a time, and while we were baking and sharing...and baking...we built camaraderie and community," Payne said. "The result is a building that represents layers of Effingham history and the power of a scrappy organization that believes historic resources can be used to harness the power of community."

The Society was one of 10 achievement award honorees, alongside the restoration of the State House Dome and the revitalization of Main Street in Concord, a building at Canterbury Shaker Village, and preservation in Stratham of the Lane Homestead, to name a few. "The common thread between all the projects, according to the Preservation Alliance's executive director Jennifer Goodman is "high-quality investments that benefit residents and visitors, and catalyze additional community development activities." 

"The projects are all very complex," she added, and "tenacity and creativity are also ingredients in all," Goodman said in a release. 

According to their Web site, "The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance supports and encourages the revitalization and protection of historic buildings and places which strengthens communities and local economies. Current priorities include providing assistance to community leaders, helping owners of long-held family farms and promoting the use of easements, barn preservation and tax incentives."

The Society's executive board and directors includes Payne, Paula Hammond, Rebecca Harrington, Leo Racine, Sandy Lodico, Carol Pfister, Sandy Ravell, and Rhonda Szapiel and they are joined by a group of dedicated volunteers. Their meetings are held the second Saturday of each month June through October at 9:30 a.m.

Upcoming events

The Alliance's headquarters, in their rehabilitated Weare Drake Store Building is located at the intersection of Town House Road and Route 153 in Effingham. The building bustles with activity welcoming the community Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 27 to Oct. 7 with homemade goodies, local produce and hot coffee. The Alliance always welcomes donations of baked goods, produce, and encourages those interested in their mission to become members for just five dollars. Special events this year include Street Fair June 24, Strawberry Day July 1, Art and Pancakes Aug. 5, and local humorist Arthur Surrette with stories, dinner and penny sale Oct. 14.

This year, as part of the June 24 street fair, there is a youth art contest in which local youth are being asked to portray their favorite Effingham barn through any medium – coloring, painting, except photography. There will be prizes awarded in four age categories and the contest is open to youth in grades kindergarten through 12. The pieces will be judged during the street fair and displayed during the Society's annual art show.

For more information about the Society and its programs and events, call 539-1796, email effinghampreservationsociety@gmail.com, or visit their Facebook page.

Martin Lord Osman
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