Chapter 2

The following article was printed in the Conway Daily Sun ~ 2/3/2007

Saving the Mineral Springs House
With $15,000 to go, residents work to save historic site before new high school opens
David Carkhuff
CONWAY—The 120-year-old Conway Mineral Springs House, besides claiming a unique spot in the history books, holds a special place in the memory of local residents such as Bayard Kennett.
"As kids, we were frequently taken out there to see the spring and knew of its history as, at one time, a source of water that was bottled," recalled Kennett, whose family bought the land — along with the building and two mineral springs — in 1920. Today, Kennett is one of those pushing for the spring house's restoration.
A grant application developed by consultant Cindy Russell explains the site's history.
"Used at first to produce steam for a steam mill in the late 1800s or early 1900s on Pine Hill, the men used the spring water to produce steam for their lumber mill and also for drinking purposes," the historical summary recounts. “The White Mountain Spring Water Co. was soon formed and the water distributed both by bottle and by cask. It was flavored and used aboard ships on long ocean voyages, for it was claimed to remain fresh for a long period of time. An unusual building was constructed over the spring and, early on, the plant was managed by Myer Wolf. At some point, the spring water was used as a base for soft drinks such as root beer and ginger ale, as well as being sold as pure mineral water. Delivered by horse and buggy, this beverage was served in the hotels of the region and for a time was shipped to customers both near and distant."
In 1996, Kennett High School’s vocational education program students volunteered to replace the flooring in the hexagonal-shaped gazebo-like structure. But the spring house, despite sporadic maintenance, is showing its age.
Kennett recalls outings to Pine Hill.
"When I was a kid, the old farmhouse was still on the site, and that was a wonderful house to explore," he said, recalling another landmark near the mineral springs.
The farmhouse gradually fell into disrepair, the victim of vandalism. Now, Kennett and other residents want to make sure the Conway Mineral Springs House doesn't suffer a similar fate.
Conway Mineral Springs House is the only one of its kind in the state — a wooden 19th century mineral springs pavilion, intact in its original location.
"The Conway Mineral Springs House and the Bradford Mineral Springs House (1881) ... are the only two known 19th century wood-framed mineral spring pavilions in New Hampshire which are still intact," wrote Linda Ray Wilson, deputy state historic preservation officer.
Conway's mineral springs pavilion stands alone as the only wood-framed building of its kind to survive without being moved, according to the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources. (Bradford Mineral Springs House was relocated to Musterfield Farm historical museum complex in Sutton in the 1980s.)
"The remains of another late 19th century pavilion, built of stone, still stand at the Lafayette Crystal Springs in Derry, but in poor condition and without a roof," Wilson wrote. "Of the two wooden pavilions, the Conway structure is much more architecturally elaborate, and it has a higher degree of historical and architectural integrity because it remains on its original site and retains its original pool enclosure."
When voters approved a $44 million bond in 2003 for construction of the new Kennett High School at Pine Hill, they inadvertently exposed the spring house to public view and awareness. The road to the new high school passes right by the spring house.
Wilson praised the community for rallying to save the historic structure.
"It is wonderfully encouraging to hear that construction of the new Kennett High School across from the Conway Mineral Springs House property has rekindled local interest in preserving the pavilion and its site," Wilson wrote.
The Conway School Board has voted to accept ownership of the Mineral Spring House along with 1.6 acres of land from the Kennett Company.
And by the end of January, citizens were within $15,000 of raising enough money to save the historic building.
"We started the effort to fund the rebuilding of it through our company and through our offer to deed it to the school to be part of their campus, and since that time we've had great response from the philanthropic community in support of doing the restoration of it. That is ongoing. We're still about $15,000 short of our $60,000 goal," Kennett said.
Kennett explained why he wants to preserve and restore the spring house: "The historical value and the antiquity of it. Its unique design and the fact that because it is in such close proximity to the new high school, to allow it to deteriorate and continue to be an eyesore would not complement the new school."
Russell agreed, "The Mineral Spring House has been there in existence since the late 1800s, and many people in the area knew about it, but it became astonishingly revealed when work on the new Kennett High School began. I describe it as being a peanut butter sandwich throw away from a school bus."
In June, Russell was asked by Carl Lindblade and Kennett if she would help them raise funds "under the auspices of the Conway Historical Society" to restore the site.
"Our goal is to have this finished by July when the high school is finished so everything can be conveyed," Russell explained in mid-January.

Kennett explained why he wants to preserve and restore the spring house:"The historical value and the antiquity of it. Its unique design and the fact that because it is in such close proximity to the new high school, to allow it to deteriorate and continue to be an eyesore would not complement the new school."



"Coleman's has already helped by contributing some of the stones that need to be put there. The grants that we have started to receive, I think the first one that came on line was the Ham Foundation, they agreed to a $10,000 contingency grant," Russell reported.
Conditions of this grant are that the site could not be privately owned — a 6-1 vote of Conway School Board to accept the property from Kennett Company took care of this condition — and that the Ham Foundation grant would kick in once the community raised the first $50,000.
"We then received a check of $25,000 from the Donaldson Trust (of New York City); the next one that came in was a grant for $5,000 from the Goldberg Foundation," Russell recalled.
An additional $5,000 was secured by a trust connected with the N.H. Charitable Foundation.
Several smaller private donations added to the tally.
One $250 donation came from a young man who remembered that his grandmother was convinced she couldn't drink North Conway water and asked her son for bottled water from the springs.
"I think we've had $500 in private gifts, unsolicited, because people said, 'I remember that,' or 'my grandfather visited that,'" Russell noted.
As a consultant, Russell said she is receiving a $2,000 stipend, which is being funded from an administrative grant that was received prior to her arrival.
The fund-raising goal may slightly exceed $60,000 due to the rising costs in materials and plans to put in a footbridge, Russell said.
Kennett High School students may help with the restoration of the spring house, again under the guidance of a vocational arts instructor, and a request will be made to add in-depth study of the property's history to the school history curriculum "in order to provide the important understanding of this unusual treasure and its relationship to the area’s economy over a century ago," Russell wrote in the grant application. "The curriculum would range from young elementary school students who delve into the history of their community, to older students who will be encouraged to take on the historical study and community significance as part of their specialized historical studies."
Artifacts and anecdotes abound. Grand hotels would take people in horse-drawn buggies and wagons to the springs for picnic lunches, Russell noted.
"There really are gorgeous glass bottles that say 'Mineral Spring Bottling Co.,'" she added.
Russell's slogan is: "Blending the old with the new and restoring a 19th century wonder!"
Anyone interested in donating can send contributions care of Mineral Springs House fund to Conway Historical Society, P.O. Box 1949, Conway NH 03818.

Assistant Editor David Carkhuff can be contacted at david@conwaydailysun.com

Any individual or business wishing to assist with this restoration project is urged to contact members of the Conway Historical Society Project Committee:

Cindy Russell - chairperson - 447-8914;

To help or to find out more about the White Mountain Mineral Spring House restoration project, contact Russell at 4events@worldpath.net.
To make a contribution,write:
Attn: Mineral Spring House Project
Conway Historical Society
P.O. Box 1949
Conway 03818.

Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to the
Conway Historical Society, attention: Mineral Spring House Project.