Group Seeks to Keep Freedom’s Town Office in Freedom Village

Freedom—February 15, 2024—In 2010, Freedom voters defeated a proposal to move its Town Office to a location outside the village. Now, a group of Freedom residents is pushing for a similar outcome when the town faces the same decision on Saturday, March 16.

Meet the Friends of Schoolhouse Hill, a group taking its name from the location of the town’s former grade school, which is now the Town Office building.

The loosely-organized group, composed of new and long-time residents, says the iconic Town Office building is more than just the physical cornerstone of the village. They say it’s a vital part of the community’s life, and one of the things that makes their bucolic small town unique.

Schoolhouse Hill, circa 1913, showing the school, the Baptist Church, and the Bandstand. The roof of the Snow Roller Shed is in the upper left hand corner. All of the buildings are in the NH Registry of Historic Places. Courtesy: Freedom Historical Society. 

Freedom’s Historical Society dates the building to 1895, when it was built to replace a near-by one-room school. More than 4,000 Freedom children were taught at Schoolhouse Hill during an 88-year span that ended in 1983 when the school moved out and town government moved in.

Now, by all accounts the town’s municipal workspace needs to be upgraded for safety, comfort and energy efficiency. As is the case for any property owner with a historic home, the town faces the choice of making those improvements by refurbishing or building new.

Price is always the first consideration, and in this case the price will be the same—$1,600,000 to rehab the existing building, and the same amount to build new at 50 Eaton Road, on land claimed by the town for non-payment of taxes.

That makes the decision more of a philosophical one, according to long-time resident Susan Marks, one of the members of the Friends group.

“The Town Office is a building that brings people into the village, and the village is the heart of the community,” she said.

“If the use of that building is abandoned, the vitality of the community will be irreparably harmed.”

Preservation Track Record
Freedom has a successful track record in organizing around issues to preserve the town’s character, a top-line goal stated in the Town Master Plan.

Years ago, residents organized to support the town’s purchase of a failed housing development, which was built-out with roads and an airplane landing strip before lenders foreclosed on it. The 2,661-acre property is now the Freedom Town Forest, accommodating all-season recreation from hiking to snowmobiling.

Similarly, town volunteers rallied to keep the centrally-located Freedom Village Store operating after it fell on hard times and closed.

Now revitalized and operated as a non-profit organization staffed by volunteers, the store is still bringing residents and visitors into the village to socialize over coffee, and to shop for farm-fresh eggs and sundry gifts and convenience items.

Members of the Friends group view the question of preserving Town Office functions at Schoolhouse Hill in much the same way. It’s more than just an iconic structure, they say. It’s a location that brings people into town and fosters community interactions while they conduct town business.

Renovation Details
The state put Schoolhouse Hill on its Registry of Historic Places in April, 2011, writing that “The building is a treasure in the heart of the town and adds life and energy to the community.”

To maintain that historic designation, the proposed renovation would preserve the building’s exterior. The clapboards would be retained and repainted, while windows and doors would be replaced and accessibility improved.

The inside, however, would receive a gut renovation, with new electric, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems, new flooring, new insulation, a new double ceiling, a new platform lift, and enhanced security features. The vestibule area, with its historic stairway and detailing, would remain as is.

The Friends group says the goal is to have a modern interior that meets all the needs of town staff while retaining the historic exterior, and the cost estimate shows it can be accomplished.

Town resident Paul Elie notes that since the building is a state-registered historic place, it may qualify for funding through preservation grants.

Members of the Friends of Schoolhouse Hill say that while long-time residents will recall the vote to keep the Town Office in the village 14 years ago, no one should take a repeat of that vote for granted since there have been so many newcomers.

The group has been working to increase awareness of the upcoming vote, and to promote the reasons they believe preserving the Town Office in the village is important. A letter will be sent to all town residents in the coming days, and questions or comments can be sent to

Freedom newcomer Moira Epps says she trusts that the renovation project is in the best interest of the village and the town office staff.

Epps is a Rhode Island native who built a home in Freedom with her husband and moved in permanently last summer. She said what attracted them to Freedom was the beauty of the environment and the quiet.

“We love being in the woods and away from city noises and stresses,” she said, referring to Baltimore and Washington, DC, where the couple’s careers took them.

She says she understands the thinking of the Friends of Schoolhouse Hill members and will vote with them to keep the Town Office in the village on March 16.

“I understand the need for safe and efficient office spaces, and I believe the renovated spaces will provide a lot of improvements to the work environment and meet future technological needs,” Epps said.

“With an issue like this, the town only has one chance to preserve something unique to Freedom, a modern building inside a historic building,” she said.


  1. Anonymous 2 months ago February 16, 2024

    What would happen to the property that is not chosen for the town offices? Would it be sold and if so, which property would produce the most income for the town when sold? Seems likely that the buildings currently on the hill would detract from the income produced by that property’s sale which might make the net cost of renovation lower than building on the new property.

  2. Richard 2 months ago February 17, 2024

    The choice is simple. Do you favor historic preservation or “out with the old and in with the new”.

  3. Darrell umlah 2 months ago March 1, 2024

    Freedom is unique quaint and historical it is who we are and I for one am incredibly grateful to reside here full time. Let’s not be like the masses and destroy the beauty and the heritage of our community. I love my visits to our town hall.


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