A Brief History of Hilltop Place
In 1970, Richard (“Rink”) Mann, an established developer, began planning his next New London project, Hilltop Place. It was to be built on land long used as a dairy farm and later as site of the Brocklebank Hotel, and became one of the earliest condominium communities in New Hampshire.
Concerning the plan for Hilltop Place Mann wrote, it “was to consist of six clusters, each to contain about twenty-five detached and attached homes for retirement living under warranty deeds. Each cluster was to be a single condominium association . . . supported by a Community Association, to which each owner had to belong, and this Association provided a clubhouse (Hilltop House), roads and utilities, an activities building, a community vegetable garden and maintenance and management of all of the six clusters.”
Designed by Edward Collins of Massachusetts, the first twenty-four units were built by the summer of 1971, most advertised as complete with cable TV of six (!) channels. By that fall, all Cluster One buildings neared completion and twelve were occupied. Construction then started on Cluster Two followed by Cluster Three in August, 1973. As each cluster was built many of its units were already sold and all soon occupied. Financial difficulties in the 1970s delayed further construction. Eventually those problems were sorted, Cluster Four completed, and Clusters Five and Six built. By 1978 Hilltop Place was completed with virtually all units occupied or under contract.
Care was taken during construction to preserve the natural landscape, its trees and stone walls. (The landscape plan was the work of Ollie Kathan of Newport.) Many of the old white pines were lost in the ice storm of 1998 but replanting of a variety of species has maintained the rural landscape of the original farm.
Initially, each cluster was governed by its own board of directors and took care of its own finances with services purchased through the HPCA, resulting in seven (!) sets of financial accounts. Such a cumbersome system could not last. By 2006 the clusters had delegated nearly all their responsibilities to the Hilltop Place Community Association. Hilltop Place now operates as a single entity.
Under the leadership of Thomas Keily, who served as president of the HPCA in 2003 to 2007, a reinvigorated Board of Directors undertook a detailed 20-year projection of needed expenditures for repaving, reroofing, re-siding, and other capital items. Careful financial planning has allowed the community to carry out this work without the owners facing special assessments. This 20-year forward projection, updated annually, continues to be the basis of financial planning.
Major maintenance projects were begun after 2006 based on a physical study of the buildings and the twenty-year projection. Thomas Cooper, who succeeded Keily as president of HPCA and served from 2007 to 2018, solved one of the pressing problems, what sort of siding would best serve the owners. Under his leadership all the residential buildings and Hilltop House were re-sided with vinyl clapboards. In addition all these buildings were reroofed and all roads repaved.
During many years of its existence Hilltop had one person as manager: Robin Cook. She began at Hilltop during its construction phase and remained with the community until her retirement in 2018. Generations of residents relied on her experience and dedication. Jean Molloy stepped into the manager’s position in November, 2018.
Hilltop has been and remains a vibrant community, an integral part of the town of New London, a friendly, active place. a good place to live.