CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A Hooksett country store that has been a featured stop during presidential primaries for more than half a century was the driving force behind a bill Gov. Maggie Hassan signed into law Thursday that allows towns and cities to appraise historic stores at a reduced rate to help preserve them.
Hassan said historic preservation “is so critical to maintain our sense of history and knowledge of our state” before signing the bill into law at the Statehouse.
The law does not require municipalities to appraise at lower rates, but provides them a vehicle to do so if they wish.
“It’s another tool in the toolbox,” said Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, who attended the bill signing.
Robie’s Country Store had been in the same family for 110 years when Lloyd Robie approached local real estate agent Robert Schroeder in 1997 to say he wanted to sell it but also make sure it kept operating as the local gathering place. Shroeder said there could be no guarantee if the store sold.
Schroeder and other loyal patrons of Robie’s formed a not-for-profit company and bought the store to assure its continued operation by leasing it to others to operate.
Hooksett preservation advocates helped shape and lobby for passage of the bill, whose primary sponsor was Hooksett Sen. David Boutin.
The law applies only to retail establishments that are more than 100 years old and are listed on either the national or state Register of Historic Places. They also can be no more than 3,000 square feet.
The site where Robie’s is located has had a business on it since 1822; the first was a mercantile shop. The building burned twice — in 1857 and again in 1906 — but was always rebuilt. George Robie bought it in 1887.