Daniel Webster Farm Will Be Preserved (NH)

FRANKLIN, N.H. 11/2/05- The farm of Daniel Webster, one of New England’s greatest statesmen, has been acquired and will be protected by the Trust for Public Land, the national conservation organization announced today.

“We are proud to have acquired the home of one of America’s legendary historic figures,” said Whitney Hatch, director of TPL’s New England office. “Webster Farm is significant, both in New Hampshire and nationally, and protecting it for future generations will protect an important part of American history.”

The 141-acre farm near Franklin, which has nearly a mile of frontage on the Merrimack River, was included earlier this year on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. “This is excellent news,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust. “In his day, Daniel Webster was widely respected for his passionate, articulate defense of the Union. “Today, the farm he loved deserves to be treated with the same kind of respect.”

TPL has acquired the farm from a commercial developer at a cost of $1.75 million and is temporarily holding it off the market. TPL and a local non-profit organization, the Webster Farm Preservation Association (WFPA), will now begin an effort to raise funds to permanently protect the farm, along with Webster’s home and several historic buildings on the land. The total needed to complete the project is $2.4 million, which will include immediate stabilization of the buildings and ongoing stewardship funds for the land and buildings.

A neighboring farm family, the Fifes, will eventually purchase the farmland and will work with TPL to establish permanent agricultural easements on the Webster property as well as on some of their own adjacent farmland. TPL and WFPA are working on a proposal for future use of the buildings consistent with their historical significance.

The New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) previously announced that it will contribute $750,000 to the conservation effort. Rachel Rouillard, LCHIP’s Executive Director, said, “The Webster Farm is our state’s most important at-risk resource. This site has real significance to the entire state, and no other currently endangered site in New Hampshire has deeper history, greater cultural importance, or more precious natural resource value.”

The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) recently awarded a $500,000 grant towards the effort, which will provide for an agricultural easement over some of the farmland.

“I want to thank TPL and the Webster Farm Preservation Association for the work they have done to preserve Webster Farm. This property is one of the most important historic and cultural resources in our state,” said U.S. Senator Judd Gregg. “Given the central role Daniel Webster played in the development of the United States, it is critical we take every step necessary to preserve his legacy and his memory. Fortunately, both organizations understand this responsibility. Because of their actions, Webster Farm will continue to contribute to the vibrant quality of life we enjoy here in New Hampshire.”

Leigh Webb, President of the Franklin Historical Society and a Director of the Webster Farm Preservation Association, said “Once it has been permanently protected as part of New Hampshire’s heritage, the Webster Farm will be able to contribute to the tourism and business economy of Franklin and the state, offer recreational opportunities, and provide a link to our cultural, political and agricultural heritage.”

Webster (1782-1852) was a U.S. Congressman, Senator, Secretary of State and presidential candidate. He is considered one of American’s greatest orators. After his death, the family home eventually became the first home and school established outside an urban area for the purpose of housing children orphaned in the Civil War. The Sisters of the Holy Cross later ran it as an orphanage and school.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations. In New Hampshire, TPL has protected more than 200,000 acres. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org.