Bar News - May 5, 2006
Preserving the Farm
A new nonprofit organization, the Webster Farm Preservation Association, is mounting a campaign to preserve the 141-acre Daniel Webster Farm in South Franklin, a scenic tract which also includes a number of historic buildings. Among the structures is Daniel Webster’s home, designated a National Historic Landmark. Webster’s father, Ebenezer, moved the family there when Webster was one year old. Daniel Webster lived there during his formative years, and purchased it as a personal retreat later in his life.
In collaboration with the Trust for Public Land, the organizers of the preservation effort are seeking to keep the land intact and preserved by acquiring the property, conveying a conservation easement on the farmland and finding economically viable reuses for the historic buildings. To date $2.5 million has been raised through grants from the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment (LCHIP) Program and the Federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program.
Howard Moffett, of the Concord law firm of Orr & Reno, is one of seven directors of the PreservationAssociation, and first became involved in the project in the summer of 2004 when two local farmers, Clarence and Dan Fife, who had leased the farmland, asked for help to prevent the development of the property for residential use. Moffett, as a citizen, helped form the preservation association whose first action was to successfully fight an attempt to put a 130-unit manufactured housing development on the property. The goal of conserving the property instead of developing it was furthered when LCHIP agreed to donate funds to help purchase the property.
The current goal of the campaign is to raise an additional $900,000 by June 2006 to acquire the land, protect the buildings from deterioration and develop a master plan. A series of presentations will be conducted throughout the state to highlight efforts to preserve this historic property, organizers said. Moffett said several law firms are considering donations to the campaign, in part because of their desire to help preserve a property with a profound connection to Daniel Webster, arguably NH’s most famous lawyer.
Webster’s connections to that property are indeed deep – he grew up there, he began his study of law there, and he later owned it until his death in 1852. “The farm and the Webster family home on the property have the most authentic connection with Webster of any land and building in the country that are still intact,” Moffett said. And, he adds, the property offers much potential for development for a variety of public and educational uses, including a museum, convention space, professional offices, as well as outdoor recreation and the attraction of preserving a scenic tract of land.
For more information, contact Colin Cabot, president of the Webster Farm Preservation Association at Colin@Sanbornmills.org.