Bob & Ellen's Excellent Adventure

Black Sheep Tower House

Doing Some Homework

The last photo I took in June - before we planned to return in July to close on the property.

June 10, 2020 Turns out the Town of Lee, NH (pop. 4,481) has a Planning & Zoning/Building Department that is pretty on top of things and keeps good records. I was able to see the file on the house even though the offices were closed due to Covid, by requesting it over the phone and retrieving it from a plastic storage bin outside their door. Per their instructions, I read it in my car and left it back in the box when done. It worked perfectly, and I was able to ask questions over the phone. I was specifically looking for records on the septic system, but found lots of other papers such as building permits that started giving me a better understanding of the history of the house. Of course, the UNH realtor had given me some basics – for example I knew that most of the land was in “current use” (a NH designation that provides a lower tax rate for land that you agree not to develop) but I didn’t know that this property and the adjacent land were part of a NH Tree Farm managed woodlands.

I also learned that 23 test pits were dug for the septic approval, and that the original home, built in 1988, was struck by lightning and burned on May 15, 2004, among many, many other bits of trivia. But, time was up, and I needed to drive back to Maryland to a) figure out how we were going to pay for our new adventure, and b) start getting us organized for the chaos to come!

The original 1988 saltbox that burned in 2004, and was replaced by the unfinished Tower House.


  1. Terrell

    Fascinating history. A great photo of the pre-existing home that kinda reminds you of the current home. What’s with the lightning strikes? Wonder what’s attracting the lightning to that site…or was it just a coincidence? or some type of pre-existing condition

    Yes, I’m down the rabbit hole. I’ve gotta put this iPad down and go to sleep. You’ve done a great job recording your journey! Keep it up.

    • Comment by post author

      Lightning apparently strikes more than twice, so we are making sure to be protected. The house is on a high point to begin with, and the tower is approx. 88-90 feet tall, so a natural target. The first strike on the house could have just been random, but the second on the tower was likely due to metal railings 90 feet in the air! 🙂

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