Since you like to do some sleuthing, here are two puzzles for you to solve:
1. What’s going on with the old farmhouse that sits on Pleasant Street across from the hospital and in front of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinic?
2. Has anyone noticed that trees have been losing their leaves early this year (before they even turn)? What’s the reason for this?
We might have been able to comment on question No. 2 had we responded earlier (we know you sent this at the beginning of September), but because we procrastinated, we’ll leave it alone for now. The leaves are just about spent anyway – they’re looking less “autumnal beauty” and more “just about dead.”
We can, however, give you the scoop on the house that sits on the Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinic property. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s an older style white house that sits pretty close to the road. The windows are boarded up, and it looks like it hasn’t been inhabited in some time.
To find out more about the house, we checked in with Doug Woodward from the city’s Planning Department. He wrote, “The Hitchcock clinic bought the land on which the clinic stands from Michael and Mary Lavery. The white house was their home and the site was a farm/orchard. As I understand it, the transfer involved the retention of a life estate for Mrs. Lavery in that house. I assume she is no longer living in the house, but if she is still alive and in a nursing home (just a theory), she’d still have a right to return to the house. Otherwise, the clinic would have the right to re-use it or demolish it.”
Intriguing! Though we’re pretty sure Mary isn’t making use of the house, unless she has something against seeing the outside world, or really likes the look of plywood over the windows.
We turned to the powers that be at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinic, specifically, Jodi Stewart, director of community relations. Jodi got in touch with one of the developers and wrote this response: “Dartmouth-Hitchcock owns this building you are referring to. Because the structure is failing, our architect has indicated the building should be taken down for safety reasons.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock is in the process of removing any regulated waste materials and preparing to file for demolition. After this filing, we are willing to discuss allowing any parties to dismantle and remove the building but must have legal and liability assurances from interested parties.”
There you have it, Inquisitive. The Revelator strikes again! And keeps striking, because we have another question . . .
This one got called in. We didn’t get the woman’s name, but she sounded really nice. Anyway, she said she drives by this house next to the Unitarian Universalist Church on Pleasant Street all the time, and has noticed they’re doing a lot of work there all of the sudden. What gives? She added that she thought this used to be Gov. John Winant’s estate.
We drove by the house in question later that week. Workers were digging up the front yard, leading us to believe it was going to be a parking lot. We weren’t able to find a house number, so we turned to the New Hampshire Historical Society to find out whether there really was a Winant connection. Winant served three terms as governor, first elected in 1925 and reelected for two terms in 1930 at the start of the Depression.
Bill Copely, librarian at the historical society, responded to our request for information. He told us that the property the Unitarian church sits on was owned by Winant (about 30 acres), but the house was torn down. That means the house in question was not Winant’s. It’s just as well – we learned he committed suicide, which would have made the house kind of creepy if it was still around. The church bought the property in 1957, said Bill.
An e-mail to the church office revealed that the home in question is actually owned by Riverbend Community Mental Health. It used to be a residential facility, but is now being converted to administrative offices, church staff said.
To get to the bottom of this mystery, we called Alan Moses, Riverbend’s CFO. He confirmed that the building is owned by Riverbend. It used to house administrative and counseling offices and was used as a residential facility. Due to some reimbursement reductions, the facility closed. Residents were placed in other Riverbend homes and at Merrimack County Nursing Home. But, Alan said, work is currently under way to transform the home into a counseling and medication management center. The new Riverbend Counseling Associates is slated to open Dec. 7.
Voila! Mystery solved.
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