When one, whether a long-time resident or visitor, thinks of present day Lebanon, the built environment stands out prominently amid solid expanses of green—most of which is forested. But that was not always the case. Like much of New England, Lebanon has a lengthy chapter of agricultural bustle, less for crops than for subsistence farming and animal husbandry—especially sheep. Barns to support such lifestyles and commerce abounded. Where have they gone, and how can they be preserved?
The “Historic Barn Survey of Lebanon, NH”, published in December 2022, kindly shared with the City of Lebanon by its author, Robin Fordham, looks in fascinating detail at many of the remaining barn structures in Lebanon and their historical context. Ms. Fordham completed the project for the University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program. The document includes a survey of 33 historic agricultural and village barns in Lebanon that was assembled in coordination with the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance and the City of Lebanon.
One of the reasons for Ms. Fordham’s undertaking of the survey is stated in the Introduction: “Lovers of old barns have repeated the same refrain over and again for at least the last four decades: historic barns, which serve as links to our shared cultural heritage, are being lost at an alarming rate. The barns of Lebanon, New Hampshire, are no exception to this historical trend. This survey serves as a first step toward the documentation and potential preservation of this valuable cultural resource.”
The report is an engaging, photo-filled read and perhaps inspiration when out and about in Lebanon to keep your eyes out for some of these noble structures. Moreover, the survey is a resource for barn owners and the interested public to potentially support preservation planning for barns. Ms. Fordham explains that there are active programs for “preliminary conditions assessments, direct funding or tax credits for rehabilitation projects, and tax abatement programs intended to promote maintenance and upkeep,” and provides a summary on document pages 3-4 of related opportunities.
This feature and coordination with Ms. Fordham is brought to you by the Lebanon Heritage Commission. To learn more about the Commission and local history visit contact Associate Planner and staff liaison to the Heritage Commission, Rebecca Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org.