Preservation without Pursuing Historic Register Designation

Pickering House Wolfeboro windows before renovation

Over these past months, we have continued to research, assess and determine the best way to proceed in renovating Pickering House. As we wrote in a previous post, with the help of architectural historian Mae Williams, we spent some time exploring the pros and cons of pursuing a listing on the National Historic Register. While we did receive a formal determination of eligibility to be listed on the National Historic Register, we have decided that pursuing this designation does not make the most sense for the project.  We recognize the importance of this program, but the extra time required for documentation and approvals of construction work is substantial, as are the costs of preserving features that often are not even original to the home.

Let’s take windows as an example.

Pickering House Wolfeboro windows before renovation

There are 95 windows in the house and barn. Few of the remaining windows are original with any significant architectural value; however, they almost all lack flashing, much of the surrounding trim is rotted, and storms are required to gain any kind of energy efficiency. If we were to pursue the Historic Register designation, each window would need to be evaluated to see if it could be restored or whether it is so far gone that it would need to be replaced. Instead, our preference is to keep the “grid” style of the original windows but replace them with newer, energy efficient windows that do not require storm windows.  As we have found in our own 1850’s renovated home (as well as many of Patty’s client’s projects), replacing the windows preserves the proper look of the era while improving energy savings, minimizing long-term maintenance and enhancing sound insulation.

Pickering House has been renovated so many times that much of what was original is long-gone. We remain wholly committed to preserving as many of the historical features of this property as we can, and plan to reestablish some of the details that are now missing or in disrepair. However, we also feel it is important to do this renovation in a manner that will make it comfortable for today’s visitors and position it to stand strong for the next 200 years.

We look forward to continuing to keep in touch with the NH Preservation Alliance and will also continue to pursue any further designations that will help protect this landmark property from potential demolition for generations to come.

If you have any questions, please email us and we’ll respond as fast as we can!