In his 1917 will, Aaron Cutler of Hudson, N.H. left his estate to family and friends with his remaining estate to be bequeathed “for the purpose of the erection, furnishing and maintenance of a Public Library, upon the express condition that the citizens of said town give land upon which to erect the same. Said land to be located within one-quarter of a mile of the town hall. Said Library to be of brick and slate. And to be known as “The Aaron Cutler Memorial Library.” His town of Hudson recently erected a memorial library, so he sought to fund a library in an adjacent municipality. Land was donated in Litchfield for a new library there and architect William M. Butterfield furnished plans for the building. The library was completed in 1924 and exhibits Tudor/English Revival design, unique for the town.
Isaac Newton Center Homestead // c.1850
Isaac Newton Center (1811-1889) was born in Windham, NH and arrived to the rural town of Litchfield, NH in its early days. Upon arrival, he appears to have built this homestead sometime in the mid-19th century based on its style. Like many in town, he was a farmer and was involved with the local Presbyterian Church, which is still neighboring this old farmhouse. After his death, the old farmhouse and homestead was inherited by Isaac’s youngest son, Isaac Newton Center, Jr., who was engaged in local town affairs, serving as City Clerk, Treasurer, Forest Fire Warden, and Library Trustee. The house appears as a melding of late Greek Revival and Italianate, possibly from the 1850s or 1860s.
Litchfield Old Town Hall // 1851
The town of Litchfield, New Hampshire is located at the southern section of the state across the Merrimack River from the town that carries its name. Land which is now known as Litchfield, was once populated by the Abenaki people. The New Hampshire Archaeological Society has located over 30 Native American sites along the shore of the Merrimack River in Litchfield, with artifacts several thousands of years old being uncovered. European influences started in the 1650’s with early records showing that Litchfield was then a part of Dunstable, Massachusetts. Both sides of the Merrimack River were granted in 1656, to William Brenton, colonial governor of Rhode Island. The name was changed to “Brenton’s Farm” in 1729. Chief Passaconaway of the Penacook lived in a Litchfield settlement at least part of the year around this era. In 1728, sixteen proprietors divided up the Brenton Farm Land. In 1749, the land was granted to another group of settlers and named “Litchfield” after George Henry Lee, Earl of Lichfield. The town has historically been comprised of farmland without a true town common or center. A small enclave of buildings did center in town, where the town hall was built. This building, the Old Town Hall of Litchfield, was built in 1851 from parts of an older meetinghouse, which was built across the road from where the building now stands. A shift in the course of the Merrimack River during the early 1800s forced the dismantling of the original Meeting House and a new structure to be built. It is a modest Greek Revival structure with corner pilasters, entablature, and gable end facing the street which reads as a pediment. It is very well maintained to this day as the home to the Litchfield Historical Society.
Sweezy Summer House // 1916
Wilton, New Hampshire has a hidden enclave of high-style summer “cottages” built for wealthy residents in the early 20th century. The last of these examples I will feature is the Sweezy House, located in Wilton Center. The Federal Revival style mansion was built for Everett and Caroline Sweezy, summer residents who split their time between New Hampshire and New York. Mr. Sweezy was a banker for the Riverhead Savings Bank which was located on Long Island, which too was a summer destination. The couple hired the firm of Howe and Manning, led by female architects Lois Lilley Howe and Eleanor Manning, to design the home. The house is set back far from the street behind a rustic stone wall. The property remained in the Sweezy Family for four generations.
Cragin-Frye-Savage Mill // 1858
There’s not much that is more picturesque and stereotypical New Hampshire than old, wooden mill buildings. When I was looking for a town to explore in NH, I got stuck on a photograph of the old Cragin-Frye Mill in Wilton, and off I went! Daniel Cragin (1836-1921) was born in Merrimack, NH of Scottish descent. In 1856, age 21, he rented a room in a woolen goods mill, and he built knife trays and wooden toys which he turned into a business. He started his business with ten dollars, and turned a profit from the beginning, so much so that by 1858, he accumulated enough money to purchase a nearby existing building for his own operation. The mill was water-powered and grew quickly. The Daniel Cragin Mill began production of sugar boxes and dry measure boxes. The mill closed briefly after Cragin retired in the early 20th century. In 1909, Whitney Morse Frye and his father, Dr. Edmund Bailey Frye, bought the mill from Cragin. Frye continued the Cragin line of wooden trays, boxes, and pails in addition to his normal processing of grains. Whitney Frye died in 1961, and his employee, Harland Savage Sr. purchased the old mill, continuing operations. After his retirement in 1981, his son Harley and his wife Pam Porter Savage took over operations and they have operated the mill to the present day as Frye’s Measure Mill. The mill is one of a few remaining operating water-powered measure mills in the United States!
Reverend Abel Fiske House // c.1791
Reverend Abel Fiske (1752-1802) was born in Pepperell, Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College in the class of 1774. Four years later in 1778, at 26 years old, he was ordained as the successor of Reverend Jonathan Livermore at Wilton, New Hampshire, where he remained until his death. During his time in Wilton, Rev. Fiske built this Federal style home for his family. The house is a short walk to the old church where he gave sermons to the growing rural community.
Buss-Newell House // c.1800
One of the finest Federal homes in southern New Hampshire is this residence that sits in the middle of Wilton Center. The home appears to have been built for Richard Taylor Buss, or another member of the Buss Family who settled in Wilton in the 18th century. By the second half of the 19th century, the property was owned by George A. Newell, who built a gorgeous Victorian era stable on the property. Swoon!!
First Unitarian Church of Wilton // 1860
Wilton, New Hampshire’s original land grant included 240 acres for a church and stipulated that a building must be erected by 1752. From this, settlers built a log church. For the first ten years traveling preachers supplied the pulpit. In 1763, Rev. Jonathan Livermore became the first settled minister. In April 1773, the town voted to provide six barrels of rum, a barrel of brown sugar, half a box of lemons and two loaves of loaf sugar for framing and raising a new meetinghouse. In 1859, a fire destroyed the Revolutionary-era church/meetinghouse, and members immediately began the construction of a new, modern building. The present building blends Greek and Gothic revival styles in a later, vernacular form.
Moors Manor Cottage // c.1900
The earliest of Wilton New Hampshire’s summer “cottages” is Moors Manor Cottage, a turn-of-the-century mansion set on former farmland with views of the mountains in the distance! While Wilton never compared to Newport or Bar Harbor as the major summer resort towns for the wealthy, the upper-middle class would sometimes build summer homes in their familial towns where they would escape the hustle-and-bustle of city life. Luckily, this home has been very well-preserved inside and out (but I wish that big fence was gone it really obscures the beauty of the house).
Harry Gregg House // c.1910
Harry A. Gregg, was the son of David Gregg, a lumber dealer and wooden goods manufacturer who built a mansion in Wilton’s East Village. Harry followed in his father’s footsteps, running the day-to-day business out of their Nashua, NH offices. With a lot of spare money, Gregg purchased pastoral land in Wilton Center and built a summer residence which may have also served as a gentleman’s farm. The Arts and Crafts style home showcases the best in the style with rubblestone, shingles, organic forms and exposed rafters. The house is pretty perfect!