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Downtown: State to sell historic Pleasant Street buildings

Two historic state buildings off Pleasant Street could soon be sold to a private developer.

The buildings, now vacant, sit on the state hospital campus and have been used as group and patient housing. The Koutras House, at 79 Pleasant St., dates to 1890.

The Huntress House, though its address is 85 Pleasant St., sits back from the street. In 2009, the state sought to demolish the Huntress House and another building, known as the Lodge House. The Concord Heritage Commission worked to preserve the Huntress House. It was once home to Harriet Huntress, the state’s first deputy superintendent of education from 1913 to 1922. She participated in New Hampshire’s suffrage movement and was a founder of Concord’s Beaver Meadow Golf Course. The heritage commission stressed that the building was historically significant.

State officials did demolish the nearby Lodge House and agreed to mothball the Huntress House.

It has since sat vacant.

The purchase and sales agreement for both properties includes a seven-year historic preservation easement, meaning a new owner cannot significantly alter the exterior of the building for that period of time.

JOLO Properties LLC is set to purchase the buildings for $95,000 each. John Marino, the manager of JOLO Properties according to state documents, could not be reached Friday.

Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council delayed the sale earlier this month, after Councilor Colin Van Ostern said he had heard from neighbors.

That neighbor is attorney Bob Stein, whose law firm sits roughly between the two houses. He is worried about the use of Barberry Lane, which is not an official city street but leads from Pleasant Street to his building and the Huntress House. He said the state had used the hospital campus to access the house, and he maintains that Barberry Lane is his right-of-way.

Stein has some other concerns about the buildings’ future.

“I just want them not to sit and rot,” he said.

He hasn’t heard what would go into the properties, which are in a neighborhood residential zoning district.

Stein renovated his firm’s building in 1988, and he worked alongside the two old houses while they served as transitional housing.

“And I must say the tenants of that facility were fabulous,” he said. “It was a real tribute to treating (the) mentally ill in the community.”

Van Ostern, who suggested tabling the item at a meeting earlier this month, said he wanted to allow more time for all parties to sort out potential issues.

“I don’t want to suggest that it shouldn’t be sold to this buyer, I just want to get more information,” Van Ostern said at the Sept. 18 meeting.

Last week, Van Ostern said he would vote to move forward with the sale at the next meeting if the state Department of Administrative Services advises to do so.

Michael Connor, deputy commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services, said it may be possible to separate the sale of the two buildings if Stein still has concerns about the use of Barberry Lane.

A decade of beading

When Donna Nordlund and her daughter Christine opened Bead It! on North Main Street in 2003, no one thought they would make it.

“We had one customer tell us that,” Donna Nordlund said last week. “And we had one of the merchants downtown tell us the same thing – that she lost a bet because here we still were.”

The beading shop will celebrate its 10th anniversary this month. Nordlund credits the shop’s success to the popularity of beading, and the hands-on help she provides her customers. She has worked to bring in new customers through special events and parties.

“I think that a lot of people don’t understand beading,” she said. “They come in and they look around, and they’re not sure what’s this all about, not realizing how easy it is to make your own necklace, your own bracelet.”

Nordlund said she will host a celebration with raffles and treats Oct. 17-19.

Energizing Concord

The Concord Energy and Environment Committee is looking to electrify the city.

The committee will hold an “Energize Concord” party at True Brew Barista on Thursday. The group is looking to recruit new members and raise awareness about its existence, said City Councilor Rob Werner, who chairs the committee.

“Volunteer committee members come from a variety of backgrounds – they share a desire to make Concord a more environmentally positive, clean and economical place to live and work,” Werner wrote in a press release about the event.

The committee’s party will be held 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, at True Brew Barista in Bicentennial Square. It will include light refreshments and a raffle with prizes from local businesses.

Go, Greased Lightnin’

Travel back in time and sing along with the cast of Grease this weekend, all for a good cause.

The Zonta Club of Concord is holding a movie event at Red River Theatres on Sunday to raise money for its scholarship fund for local women. The club will screen Grease – and encourage viewers to sing along – at 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15.

Moviegoers can also enjoy a pre-party outside Red River Theatres, beginning at 2 p.m. that day. It will feature hamburgers, hot dogs, root beer floats and ice cream from Arnie’s Place, classic cars and contests of Hula-Hooping, bubble gum blowing and the best 1950s costumes, said Zonta Club member Janice Severance.

To purchase tickets or find more information, visit redrivertheatres.org.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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