Local man plans to save Warner’s historic Odd Fellows building

from the InterTown Record, Feb. 21, 2017

“The largest and handsomest business block by far in our village is the new Odd Fellows’ building that is just approaching completion…”

– Kearsarge Independent, April 1, 1892

 

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – After almost 20 years and multiple development plans – and spending more than $50,000 – town leaders may have finally found the person who can restore and renovate the historic Odd Fellows Building by looking right down the road.

At a public hearing before the board of selectmen in town hall last Tuesday (Feb. 14), Warner native and resident Nate Burrington, of Burlington Builders and Maintenance, announced his intention to purchase the 125-year-old wooden village structure from the town. He plans to restore and renovate the 72’-by-42’, three-story building on his own, and use it primarily for his personal and business needs.

“I think we can do it,” Burrington said late last week. “I think it’s a good building, and even if I don’t make a ton of money (on the renovation), it should be in Warner.”

Burrington said he has experience repurposing old structures locally, including the adjacent Schoodacs Coffee & Tea building and several homes in the Bradford area. His tentative plans are to restore the local building’s first floor and use it for his building contracting business, probably a combination office and workshop. The third floor, which Burrington said has a gorgeous and unique view of the community, could become residential space for one or two tenants, he said.

And if stabilizing the second floor proves too difficult, the contractor might take it out and allow the first floor to have a high ceiling; the building’s many windows will flood the space with natural lighting.

He’s proposing a six-year project estimated to cost between $300,00 and $400,000. “It would all be out-of-pocket; no bank would give me the money right now,” he said He said he will do most of the work himself and that, as a contractor, he’ll be able to make use of left-over materials from other projects.

“This is probably the first real bright spot we’ve had in a long time.”

– Jim McLaughlin, chairman of the Warner Odd Fellows Building Committee.

 

Town administrator Jim Bingham agreed with Burrington that the 19th century Church Street building is structurally sound. “The most serious pollution issue on the site has already been resolved,” he noted, referring to an environmental cleanup project completed about five years ago.

The town has resolved a drainage problem in the area that hampered earlier proposals, and allowing the new building owner to have nine spaces in the village area will rectify a shortage of available parking.

Continue reading “Local man plans to save Warner’s historic Odd Fellows building”

Warner Budget Committee proposals include adding solar, removing Odd Fellows building

warnertownhall

Published in the InterTown Record, Feb. 7, 2017

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – Approximately 40 people attended the budget committee’s annual review of the board of selectmen’s proposed 2017 town budget Thursday night, but the fiscal group postponed making its expected final recommendation to voters for one week.

The decision came late in the three-hour-plus town hall meeting after officials noted that there were still five more days for residents to submit petition articles for consideration at the annual town meeting in March. The deadline is Feb. 7. The budgeters are permitted to review any measures would have a fiscal impact on the town budget.

The issue became significant after Rebecca Corser, the executive director of the Warner Historical Society, spoke on behalf of a petition article she’d presented that’s aimed at removing the old Odd Fellows building on East Main Street.

“The (Odd Fellows) building’s footprint is really small and (refurbishing it) would be very expensive… And if that building ever catches fire, it’s going to go ‘whoosh.’ It would be a very intense situation that could effect other buildings around it.” – Rebecca Corser, Director of the Warner Historical Society

The selectmen’s proposed 2017 budget totals $3,079,486, which is a 1.8-percent increase over last year’s; the figure includes a 2-percent raise in town employee salaries as well as changes to their health insurance programs. Last year’s spending came in $144,020 less than what was planned, so Town Administrator Jim Bingham reported that If the selectmen are able come up with $100,000 to alter this year’s budget, the property tax rate for the town would rise from $8.87 to $9.47 per $1,000 of value.

Corser’s petition asks Town Meeting voters to “direct the selectmen to develop and implement a plan to dismantle” the structure in the next two years, and to turn the space near the Simonds School into a combination parking area and “green space.” It also ask that the abandon building’s clock tower be preserved and included in the redeveloped lot. The abandoned wooden structure, which was built in 1892, has been a concern for residents for years now as some have sought to preserve and/or restore it.

Corser said she served on a committee that worked to maintain the historic structure for years but she was disappointed that her “high hopes” for the building had not been fruitful. “The building’s footprint is really small and (refurbishing it) would be very expensive,” she bemoaned. “Things are falling off, it’s been broken into.. . And if that building ever catches fire, it’s going to go ‘whoosh.’ It would be a very intense situation that could effect other buildings around it.”

Warner native and selectman Allan N. Brown was one of several residents who voiced reservations about the idea.  He said that he had spent several years working on road concerns with the Simonds School located by the Odd Fellows building, and he would feel like he’d wasted time if the building were simply removed. In addition, there would be “one monstrous hole” in the ground if it was taken down, and the cost of filling it – as well as dealing with toxic asbestos and lead paint on the property – could raise demolition costs to more than $300,000. “And if you want to take that clock tower down you’re going to need a 100-foot crane,” he added. Continue reading “Warner Budget Committee proposals include adding solar, removing Odd Fellows building”

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