A 200-year-old sawmill becomes a gorgeous country estate.
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Visitors to the home of Kathy and Dan Buckless aren’t always invited. The couple lives in an 18th century building with an extensive history, so much so that some area New Hampshire citizens and visitors don’t know that it is a home. Wedding parties and wanderers looking for a scenic view often stroll onto the Buckless property, much to the amusement of the couple. They don’t seem to mind the trespassers.
Originally built as a sawmill, their home’s past also includes use as a lumber shop, mattress factory and an office. Transforming the aged building into their first home was not an easy task, even for a couple that spent more than 20 years in the construction business. Maintaining the more than 200-year-old building’s integrity was a priority.
The couple spent decades collecting the antiques that now fill the parlor, dining room and guest bedrooms of their dream home. The Buckless' hired two painters who lived in the house eight weeks while painting the mural that runs up the huge center staircase and around the second floor landing. Old meets new in the basement entertainment room. The couple restored the original wooden beams and the stone foundation dates to the mid 1700s. And the formerly sterile kitchen is now filled with country charm including a long farmer's table and tin ceiling.
Exposed beams, original floorboards and select period pieces help draw character from the well-worn structure. The most important challenge they faced was rebuilding the sawmill’s water wheel outside. Dan and his father took on the challenge of turning the old waterwheel into a functioning hydropower station. Once completed, their home became the smallest hydropower generating station in New Hampshire, saving the couple from monthly electric bills. They even sell excess power back to the utility.