New resident Richard Flier, owner of the property at 132 Pillsbury Road between the Londonderry Presbyterian Church and Orchard Christian Fellowship, wants the site to reflect what residents would like the center of town to mean to them.
His property, known as the Naylor Farm, contains an old farmhouse and an acre of open space. He withdrew his previous plan, to add three structures to the property to house extended family, because he began receiving phone calls from people around town the day after the presentation who had what he termed great ideas for the site that he never had contemplated. As a result, he would like to hear from residents with ideas for what could be done on the site.
“Our project is very small and short in stature, but our family thinks that it is very important to the town,” he told the Heritage Commission at its Thursday, July 24 meeting. “The first thing we plan to do is to restore the house that has been there all of these years. I thought it was built in 1880 but then I was given some information that some of the buildings were built as early as 1860. We feel it’s an integral part of the center of town and we just want to do the right thing.”
Flier told the Commission he had commissioned the construction of a gazebo at the back of the property.
“It’s screened in, no bugs, and all of you and any residents that are interested are invited to come back and look at this important site between the two churches and dream and think about what you would like to see there,” Flier said.
He explained that he is working with the town’s art association to have pictures in the windows of historical figures.
“We are rushing to have it completed by Old Home Day, to have each of the windows in the front of the building have a picture of an historical figure from Londonderry’s history,” he said. ‘I have to board up the windows anyway, my insurance carrier is requiring it, and I want to make sure the building holds together through the winter. People can walk by and from the street see these historical figures facing the street.”
Flier said the house still has good features inside but has suffered water damage, although it can be restored.
“We don’t know what it can be used for but we think that there are only a few historical buildings in the center of town, and we think that this is a beautiful example and will be brought back to its original condition,” Flier added.
Flier passed around a picture of the Boit House, a building he was involved with restoring in Boston in the late ‘90s.
“Our plan here is to have folks around town, whoever wants to come and be heard, whoever has ideas, to come back, sit in the gazebo, chat and see this beautiful piece of property,” he said. “It’s a parking lot now. At the end of the process we hope, working with you, that we can come up with something that serves more than my family.”
He said he had received telephone calls from people who would like to live on the site.
“There are people my age that actually want to live there,” he said, noting they want to be able to walk to the Town Common and the Leach Library. He has also talked with the Londonderry High School video department about the possibility of having a “This Old House” type program, where different stages of the restoration process would be shown.
Commissioner Janet Cichocki asked if Flier was looking for comments from the Commission.
“Not now, I want you to come see the land,” Flier said.
“And once we do that, then you’ll want comments?” Cichocki said.
“From everyone,” Flier responded.
He offered his website, email@example.com for those who want to contact him. “I want everybody in town, if they feel like it, to understand that the center of town is for them,” Flier said.