By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — Town residents are fighting to save a centuries-old foundation on Range Road they say deserves preservation as a community landmark.
The Planning Board is expected to hear their pleas during a public hearing tonight.
Father and daughter Fred and Lyndsee Halloran are leading the campaign to save the granite foundation near the corner of Range and Langdon Roads.
It’s on land at 163 and 165 Range Road, where property owner Hy-Rize Holdings LLC is proposing a lot line adjustment to accommodate future home development.
Representatives of Hy-Rize have already appeared before the Planning Board.
Fred Halloran, a next-door neighbor, said Hy-Rize plans to put a driveway where the foundation stands.
“We have no problems with houses going up,” Halloran said.
But in researching the history of the property and the foundation, the Hallorans learned it dates at least to the early 1800s. It may have been the site of Windham’s first framed house, and was home to an early settler John Waddell and a long-time selectman of the 1800s, George Cobb.
“I thought that was pretty cool,” Halloran said.
Halloran is hoping the Planning Board will be able to convince the developer to find a way around that foundation.
“I’d like to see the foundation left with a historical marker,” Halloran said. “If they can move the driveway somewhere else, so be it.”
The Hallorans expect to have a group of town residents accompany them to the meeting to speak for preservation of the foundation.
They also have the support of Carol Pynn, a member of the Heritage Commission who has fought to preserve historic properties before.
Pynn commends the Hallorans for their efforts.
“They have done an unbelievable amount of research,” Pynn said.
She maintains the foundation absolutely should be preserved because of the archaeological value of the site, as well as its connections to town founders and historic figures.
“This is a piece of our cultural history,” Pynn said.
The developer previously told the Planning Board it could be costly to place the driveway elsewhere on site and could force the removal of trees, she said.
“If you have to do that to preserve a piece of Windham history, do it,” Pynn said. “Trees grow back.”
Some Planning Board members do seem interested in preserving the foundation.
Planning Board member Pam Skinner, during a meeting in March, asked engineer Joe Maynard if the driveway could be reconfigured. Maynard told Skinner he can’t say what a buyer might do.
Chairwoman Kristi St. Laurent asked Maynard if it would be possible to save some of the granite rocks from the foundation on site.
Maynard told her that a note could be added to plans that would say so.
Pynn acknowledges the foundation has not been placed on the town’s cultural and historic resource lists, but believes it should be.
“It doesn’t matter,” Pynn said. “This is a newly discovered resource.”
The property, though in the earliest settled part of town, is outside the historic district, so the commission is not in position to force a meeting of its own with the developer.
“All you can do is beg and plead,” Pynn said.
The Planning Board meets at 7 p.m. in the Community Development offices, 3 North Lowell Road.