By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Sun
DIXVILLE — The latest plan for developing the Balsams Resort now calls for demolishing the historic Dix House. The oldest part of the resort, the Dix House opened in 1866.
The redevelopment plan for the property as presented to the Coos County Planning Board was recently modified to reflect the change. The Balsams has applied for three demolition permits, and the state Fire Marshal’s Office will issue them Tuesday or Wednesday, explained Investigator Ron Anstey, section chief, engineering and plans review, in the state Fire Marshal’s Office.
Dixville Capital, LLC, manager Les Otten made the decision to tear down the Dix House because of information gathered during additional investigation plus structural analysis.
Instead, this section of the property will be built in a manner that retains the proportions and “massing” of the original Dix House. Items of historical relevance from the existing Dix House will be salvaged and stored in a way designed to preserve their historic integrity and then be incorporated into the new structure. During this process, the multi-story stucco-and steel Hampshire House will not be damaged.
Frank Delgiudice of the Army Corps of Engineers in Concord, Mass., the lead federal agency, agreed to these and other stipulations when he signed an amendment to an existing Memorandum of Understanding on Sept. 21. Otten and a designee for Elizabeth Muzzey, N.H. State Historic Preservation Officer, signed the two-page document earlier that month.
These same three parties has signed an earlier 4-page MOU nearly two years before on Nov. 4, 2015.
The amended MOU, considered a single document, is valid for 5 years.
Otten asked the planning board to act quickly on actions sought in August by Dixville Capital so that a building permit could be secured from the state Fire Marshal’s Office to allow work to begin this fall, But neither he nor his chief presenter, Ed Brisson, mentioned any demolition plans or any need to secure demolition permits.
Muzzey noted in a Monday telephone call that the agency has not addressed the question of whether or not the property is likely to be remain listed on the National Register of Historic Places. She explained that it would depend “on what remains of the significance and integrity of the historic facilities.” Most buildings do change over time, she said, and changes and new features become part of an updated or new story.
The Balsams has a long and illustrious history.
Several small hostelries had already been built in or near Dixville Notch in the 19th century when Colebrook native George Parsons erected a two-and-a-half-story inn with an attached barn in the summer of 1874, writes Bryand F. Tolles, Jr., in “The Grand Resort Hotels of the White Mountains: A Vanishing Architectural Legacy.” The architectural historian points out: “Accommodating 50 guests, it is sited exactly on the spot where the oldest portion of The Balsams now stands. This simple, vernacular pair of buildings, while extensively modified both inside and out, were never torn down and form part of the current complex.”
Otten requested the planning board’s cooperation in August, pleading that his goal is to re-open The Balsams Resort in 2018.
He still awaits securing a financing package.