New England Preservation: Israel Demeritt-O’Kane House


By Carla Charter

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Looking for a new home?  Preservation Timber Framing may be able to offer you the perfect home.  There is only one stipulation. Some assembly will be required.  The Israel Demeritt-O’Kane House, once resided in Durham, New Hampshire. The house was taken down by the company in 2011 and has been in storage since, with all of the pieces meticulously catalogued.

“We are not in the business of taking buildings down. I am a University of New Hampshire alumni and someone from the grounds department sent me an e-mail about a building the university was ready to demolish, said President of the company Arron Sturgis.  “I bought it for $1. It took us the entire summer to take down and disassemble.  I wouldn’t have even considered taking it down except for the condition of it.”

The house was built in 1804. The Demeritt Family has a long history in Durham, New Hampshire, including settling both Durham and Madbury, N.H.  Professor O’Kane lived there while teaching at the University of New Hampshire. He bequeathed the house to the university as a gift.  It was used for offices for a time then graduate housing and a child center.  Eventually the college wanted to create a green space next to their child development center at the university,” Sturgis said.

“It was a rare find. There are not a lot of houses that have not been modified from that time. I found the building so compelling.  It was altered very little,” he continued.  The main house built in the High Federal Style, contains four rooms downstairs and four rooms upstairs, a formal front entry, as well as an ell with a kitchen housing a beehive oven.  It was a pretty large house. “It would be suitable for a good-sized family,” Sturgis said.

“There are a lot of interior details which were exquisitely done,” he continued.  The home had original wallpaper and paneling, Indian shutters, split lath and a slate roof.  The cost of the house is $180,000 to if the buyer assembles it himself on his own foundation or 1.8 million dollars to have it rebuilt by the company. Included in that cost is the delivery of the home within the New England area.

“I think I saved this house as it is one of the best examples of craft I have ever seen. We have lost so much of this fabric over New England, it is important to preserve what we have left. This home was not built for the bottom line, it was built for longevity “

More information on the home can be found at  h

ttp://www.preservationtimberframing.com/israel-demeritt-okane-house/

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