Litchfield Road barn to get artistic improvements

TIM JEAN/Staff file photo. The barn at 2 Litchfield Road in Londonderry will get some artistic improvements as part of a window renovation project.

LONDONDERRY — It's an aging barn needing a lot of care.

And with the help of area artists, the building at 2 Litchfield Road may get some colorful upgrades until more final renovations work can be done.

That includes images of barnyard animals painted on plywood boards on the barn's windows.

Resident and businessman Richard Flier came before the Heritage Commission recently to talk about the Litchfield Road building, a site that is failing fast and in need of major improvements. The Commission approved Flier's plans for the artistic paintings.

Flier and partner owners of CC Properties LLC want to make the property something the town will be proud of.

CC Properties bought the 1.38-acre property from Crowell's Corner Properties LLC in 2017, paying $208,000 according to town assessment records. The building is zoned Commercial III and in a town historic overlay district. Exterior work plans have to follow strict guidelines due to the historic nature of the property.

The colonial-style house on the property was formerly used as home base for the Londonderry Times, Nutfield News, and Tri-Town Times newspapers. It is currently being rented to the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Town board denied a previous plan to bring a small credit union to the property.

The barn is in bad shape, Flier said.

Most of the barn windows are either broken or missing, he said, adding its gives added ability for animals to stroll in and find a home.

"It's a hazard," Flier said. "Birds, animals inside, the weather is also not kind to the barn. We are concerned that the barn will continue to deteriorate."

Flier said the barn is dangerous until it's renovated and made safe again.

Starting with the windows, Flier said area artists representing the Londonderry Arts Council are willing to support the barn work and paint farm animal images on wooden boards that will then cover the various-sized windows until permanent windows are installed.

"The building will look a little nicer," Flier said. "And in transition (paintings) will look better than just plywood."

Creating paintings on plywood in Londonderry has been done before. When Flier's crews took on a renovation project at a building on Pillsbury Road years ago, artists painted historical scenes of the town on boards that covered the windows during the work.

Scenes included landscapes and historical images of the community.

Some painted plywood boards from that project remain at the Londonderry Historical Society on Pillsbury Road.

It might take several thousand dollars to restore the barn properly, Flier said and there is no time frame set for the work.

Flier did say the main house on the property also needs much work and said many changes made through the years were "inappropriate" as per the town's historic easement rules concerning the property.

Flier said bringing older buildings back to life is a life mission, something he takes pride in.

"I have restored hundreds of properties," Flier said. "But when in limbo, you make sure they are secured."

This project would get people excited to see a building brought back to life, Flier said, generating excitement for those passing by and watching the progress. Having local artists contribute to the project is an added bonus.

"They are responsible artists, and will give something everyone will be proud of," Flier said.

Town councilor and Planning Board liaison Jim Butler said he felt comfortable with artists painting the animal images.

"It's better than boarded up plywood," he said.

Historical Society member Ann Chiampa said the society still has several of the painted boards from Flier's previous project on Pillsbury  Road. One image denoting Ocean Born Mary is still used by the museum when school group's visit, she said.

Flier said paint and other materials will be provided to the participating artists. He hopes to have the animal paintings ready in time for the Old Home Day celebration in August.

"The artists want to do a good job," Flier said. "It will be in good taste and well done."

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