The Friends of Centennial Hall were recently awarded the 2024 Preservation Achievement Award from the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance for the rehabilitation of Centennial Hall. In addition to this award, the FOCH also received a special recognition award, the Elizabeth Durfee Hengen Award, given out only occasionally to honor the extraordinary work of a long-term DHR member. Below is the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance’s introduction of these special awards to the FOCH, Inc.

This former school with its large second floor meeting hall was built in 1876, an imposing stick-style landmark at a historic crossroads. When the vacant building came up for sale in 1997, a group of concerned citizens came forward and bought it.

Twenty-seven years later, the Friends of Centennial Hall have funded a complex, multi-phased rehabilitation effort of the National-Register-listed building and it is now a beehive of cultural and social activity.

The Friends began with a thorough building assessment, then carried out the renovation in phases. Funding came from three LCHIP grants, a Preservation Alliance / 1772 Foundation grant, town warrant articles, and lots of individual and corporate contributions.

Forty-four windows were restored, the slate roof replaced in-kind, a new boiler installed with piping to historic radiators, and a new chimney and flue were installed. Woodwork and trim were carefully restored, along with plaster and re-painting, refurbished kitchen and bathrooms, and new lighting. After putting in a full-building sprinkler system and restoring the grand ballroom there is just one final step—installation of an elevator—to make the building fully ADA compliant. Before the end of this year, the upper hall and stage will once again welcome a lively range of community uses.

Centennial Hall is a high-quality model of planning, incremental rehabilitation, and impressive volunteer and donor support.

“Do not underestimate the dedication and determination of a volunteer board.”

— Marcy Milne McCann, Board President, Friends of Centennial Hall

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About the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance strengthens communities and local economies by supporting and encouraging the revitalization and protection of historic buildings and places. The organization’s impact has continued to grow as a result of programs and services tailored to meet changing constituent needs. The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance is now a highly regarded voice for preservation, and a resource for hundreds of members, partners, colleagues, and the media.  They have been part of successful preservation efforts across the state, helping to save and revive individual buildings, improve downtown vitality and protect community character. The NH Preservation Alliance have been strong advocates for preservation-friendly preservation policies at both the state and federal level. 

About Centennial Hall

From its founding in 1876 through the late 1940’s, Centennial Hall played a vital role in the cultural enrichment and education of North Hampton’s citizens. Today, while awaiting the completion of restoration, the building remains in active use as a center for the arts, club meeting place and host to many groups and charitable organizations.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in May, 2016, the building operations and restoration is managed by The Friends of Centennial Hall, Inc., a New Hampshire registered 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. Centennial Hall continues its legacy of service to the community adapting to a variety of needs and uses. With so few of these special buildings left, especially ones that continue to vibrantly serve the community, the building’s survival depends on donor support.

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