Group rejects Swing Bridge

MILFORD – Milford’s pedestrian Swing Bridge has lost out to the Rye Town Hall and the former residence of three Catho­lic bishops in Manchester.

Those are two of the places chosen by the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance as historical sites that should get extra attention.

The alliance’s "Seven to Save" list was released Oct. 21, and it also in­cludes the Hall of Flags at the Statehouse, the Oce­anic Hotel on Star Island, the Lane Homestead in Stratham, the Pickering House in Wolfeboro and the St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts in Ber­lin.

The program picks sev­en endangered historic properties to spotlight each year. Criteria include historical or architectural significance, severity of the current threat and the extent to which a Seven to Save listing would help in preserving or protecting the property.

Milford applied for in­clusion on the alliance’s list in an attempt to bring attention to its Souhegan River walking bridge. Built in 1889, the iron suspension span needs full restoration, which could cost half a million dollars.

Town Administrator Mark Bender said the town will try again and also look for grant money to save the bridge.

Engineers recently clas­sified it as poor, based on Federal Highway Admin­istration standards, mean­ing the town might have to close it within five or 10 years.

Here are the places that made the list:

  • Rye Town Hall: Vot­ers in Rye are divided on whether to invest in reha­bilitating the 1839 build­ing, and a $4.1 million renovation price tag was recently voted down.
  • The Hall of Flags at the Statehouse: Accord­ing to the alliance, there is growing concern about the condition and long-term preservation of the flags, some of which are bloodstained and bullet-riddled. The collection began after the Civil War when the battle flags of New Hampshire regi­ments were returned and put on display there.
  • The St. Kieran Com­munity Center for the Arts in Berlin: The for­mer church serves as a performing and visual arts center, and the non­profit managers need help with upkeep.
  • The Oceanic Hotel on Star Island: The Star Is­land Corp. needs help in stabilizing and upgrad­ing the sprawling build­ing perched on a rocky coastline.
  • The Chandler House: Manchester Bishop Li­basci set a Nov. 30 dead­line for the house, also known as St. Hedwig Con­vent, to be sold and moved off its Walnut Street lot or it will be demolished. The house is said to have the finest Victorian interiors in the city and perhaps in the state.
  • The Lane Homestead in Stratham and the Pick­ering House in Wolfe­boro: These are landmark residential complexes, now on the market, and there is nothing to pre­vent a future owner from demolishing them.

Being on the list means the places should get more attention and help with preservation efforts, but there is no direct monetary help involved.

The alliance made its announcement at two events in Concord on Oct. 21, a legislative and press gathering at the State­house and a public cer­emony and reception at 7 Eagle Square.

Hunter Ulf, Seven to Save chairman and board member, called the se­lections "extraordinary examples of architecture and craftsmanship, sig­nificant to their commu­nities, and important for their connections to local and state history."

This is the 10th list since the Seven to Save program began. More than half of the proper­ties listed since then have been saved or are on the way to being saved.