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Peterborough

Monahon memorial fund to boost preservation

A year after tragedy, grants will help carry on their legacy

Rick and Duffy Monahon died in a car crash a year ago this week. But friends and colleagues hope to ensure their work continues by starting a fund through the N.H. Preservation Alliance.
Photo by John Hession, courtesy of N.H. Preservation Alliance

Rick and Duffy Monahon died in a car crash a year ago this week. But friends and colleagues hope to ensure their work continues by starting a fund through the N.H. Preservation Alliance. Photo by John Hession, courtesy of N.H. Preservation Alliance

It was just a year ago, on Jan. 27, 2013, that Rick and Duffy Monahon of Peterborough died in an automobile accident in Hillsborough, a loss that sent shock waves not just through the local community but around the state.

The Monahons, who worked together at their Peterborough architecture firm, were active in many conservation and preservation efforts locally. Rick, who had developed an interest in historic preservation when he worked on saving the mill buildings of Harrisville, served as chair of Peterborough’s Planning Board. Duffy was an active member of the Peterborough Conservation Commission and the Heritage Commission and was especially interested in saving old buildings from demolition.

As architects, they won awards for projects like the rehabilitation of the Gregg Free Library in Wilton, the Newbury Meetinghouse and Temple’s Town Hall.

But it was only after the Monahons died that their local friends realized how many connections the couple had made in their lives.

“It was remarkable what an outpouring of emotion there was,” said Rob Stephenson of Jaffrey, who worked with the Monahons on renovation of the Jaffrey Meetinghouse. “Their death struck so many people in so many ways.”

“I was in their Peterborough orbit,” said Francie Von Mertens of Peterborough. “Duffy and I shared interests in town planning and conservation. When they died, we all learned how many more orbits there were, people all over the state. They were so involved.”

Now friends are planning a fitting tribute to the Monahons by launching the Rick and Duffy Monahon Fund, which will be used to make seed grants for community preservation projects.

“Its focus will be on preservation, town and community planning, architecture – the kind of projects Rick and Duffy would support,” said Von Mertens. “The fund will provide small grants to organizing committees, to help investigate issues. Just a little seed money to get something going.”

The fund will be a part of the N.H. Preservation Alliance and will be managed through the N.H. Charitable Foundation, which will make annual distributions. An advisory committee will be set up to assist the Preservation Alliance in selecting projects. Both of the Monahons served as board members of the Preservation Alliance and Rick was on the board at the time of his death.

“This is intended to inspire more of the kind of work that Rick and Duffy did,” said Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the N.H. Preservation Alliance. “It will be for things like building assessments, reuse studies, starting a charette. It’s to help people get on a good path toward success in saving the special places in a community. There’s a huge need to provide that early aid.”

The fund will also help launch a new Historic Preservation for the Future Fund at the N.H. Charitable Foundation, intended to accept gifts to honor others and meet changing preservation needs.

Goodman said this will be the first memorial fund of its kind that the Preservation Alliance has been involved with.

“It will add to our toolbox in a special way that honors the Monahons,” she said.

Von Mertens said the initial goal is to raise $100,000, which will provide a solid base for the Preservation Alliance to start making grants.

Contributions to the fund may be made to the N.H. Preservation Alliance/Monahon Fund, P.O. Box 268, Concord 03302. Information may also be found online at www.nhpreservation.org/donate/the-monahon-fund.

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