DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

September 20, 2012

Progress is slow on historic Morrison House

By James Niedzinski
jniedzinski@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — Although the Londonderry Historical Society is still fund-

raising and collecting donations to rebuild the Reverend Morrison House, the contractor has not been at the site in months.

The historic building was one of the first houses built in Londonderry. It was constructed in 1725 on Gilcreast Road.

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In 2007, the house was dismantled by First Period Colonial Restoration of Kingston. Since then, the house has sat inside storage containers at 140 Pillsbury Road.

The historical society was awarded approximately $150,000 by the Town Council in order to take down and store segments of the house and still has some money left over. Combined with some recent donations and fundraising efforts, the Historical Society has about $40,000 left to rebuild the house.

However, the project could cost upward of $150,000, depending on how detailed the reconstruction process gets, treasurer David Colglazier said.

The 2 acres used for the house were donated by the owners of Mack’s Apples in in 1990.

Despite the resources, construction process has been slow.

A foundation was laid and some support beams were set into place in 2009, but there has been little progress since then.

First Period Colonial Restoration is also tasked with the reconstruction process. Robert Pothier is the sole owner and operator.

“He seems to commit himself to too many projects,” Colglazier said.

Historical society members have been in contact in recent months about the status of the project, but construction has seem to have hit a brick wall.

One of the toughest parts of the process was finding all the right pieces the house needs.

“White oak is very susceptible to water damage and splitting, the ideal wood also needs to be chemical free,” Pothier said.

Keeping wood dry and protected from the elements is just one part of the battle. In addition, the house must be assembled in large sections, not piece by piece, which is a costly process, which brings in the funding issue.

There must be enough money to put in one major segment at a time, Pothier said.

Initially, Pothier was supposed to resume work over the summer, but he had other projects come up, Colglazier said.

While the historical society has considered using other contractors to speed up the process, Pothier already knows all the details of the house.

“It would probably cost more and take longer to get a different contractor at this point,” Colglazier said. “Bob is very good at restoration, and he already knows all of the measurements and configurations of the project.”

Yet another setback for the reconstruction were the deaths of two Historical Society members, John and Ginny Dahlfred. The two were very involved with the Historical Society, and the Rev. William Morrison House in particular, Potheir said.

Once completed, the 1,200-square-foot-house will stand two stories tall. The reconstruction of the Rev. William Morrison House is just one aspect of a bigger picture. The end result of the project is to bring other historic landmarks in the area to life, in order to educate and inspire the community, historical society president Judy Seppala said.

While there is no set completion date for the project, more and more people do want to see it completed.

“A lot of people still want to see it go up,” Colglazier said. “We still get a lot of questions about the speed of the project.”

Also located on Pillsbury Road is the 1840 R.P. Clark and Sons Blacksmith Shop, the 1859 Parmenter Barn and the Morrison House Museum.