The South Congregational Church in Newport, NH, is located (as its name suggests) south of the commercial and civic heart of downtown Newport. The church congregation was founded in 1779 and grew substantially in the early 19th century. The church’s location, outside the present downtown, is the result of a long-running dispute within the town of where its civic heart should be located, to the north or south of the Sugar River. The consequence of this disagreement resulted in the placement of the Baptist church at the town common (north of the present-day commercial downtown), and the placement of this church here. The resulting development to the north of the river left this massive, brick Federal style church towering over the small working-class homes, with a majority of the town’s other significant Federal buildings built years later, like the Eagle Hotel and Old County Courthouse to the north of the river. The 1823 church is thought to have been designed by Elias Carter, who designed many Federal-era churches in the New England area.
In December 1824, a law was passed by the New Hampshire Legislature removing the of the Supreme Court of Judicature from Charlestown, New Hampshire to Newport, which was located at the convergence of multiple stagecoach lines along the Sugar River. Soon after, Sullivan County was formed from the northern part of Cheshire County. At a meeting held January 13, 1825 the town of Newport voted to raise $2,000.00 to assist in building a courthouse and town hall, in the center of town. The building was erected in 1826 with the Newport Town Hall on the first floor and County Courthouse on the second. The building continued to be used as a court as well as social purposes until 1872, when it was deeded to the Town of Newport. Since then, the structure was used as a school and grange hall, and it now is home to a restaurant, appropriately called “The Old Courthouse”. The 1826 building is an excellent example of vernacular Federal style architecture.
Designed by Boston architect, James Templeton Kelley, the Richards Free Library (originally the Seth Richards House) is an outstanding example of the Colonial Revival style, in a region where such expressions of opulence are relatively rare. Located on Main Street in Newport, NH, the house was built during a period of great prosperity by one of Newport’s wealthiest citizens. Richards was one of the few in the area able to afford the services of a metropolitan architect for his own home. The family occupied the home until the 1960s when Louise Richards Rollins, offered the family home on Main Street for the to the town for use as a library in 1962. The first floor rooms were renovated and equipped as a library and Ms. Rollins continued to live on the second floor of the library until her death.
The Dexter Richards and Sons Woolen Mill is the last surviving textile mill in Newport, New Hampshire. It was one of the city’s largest and most successful industries and employers. Built in 1905 on the banks of the Sugar River – which supported industrial activity as early as 1768 – the mill reflects the evolution of water-powered mills throughout the city and the region for more than a century. Designed by Peterborough native Edward A. Buss, Richards Woolen Mill is a typical three-story brick mill building from the early 20th century with granite, brick and metal architectural flourishes; it stands out for its five-story Romanesque tower with three tall arched windows on each side. At the base of the tower, above the entrance, are two slate roundels with the dates “1848” and “1905,” marking when both a previous mill on the site and the existing mill were built. In addition to running the mill, the Richards family was instrumental in establishing the Newport Electric Company (1892) and brought both Western Union Telegraph service (1866) and the Concord & Claremont Railroad (1871) to Newport. Richards and Sons, Inc. dissolved in 1926. The property was purchased by Harry W. Brown and Associates and was renamed the Gordon Woolen Mill. That business made wool linings for Army clothing during World War II. The mill was later owned by William Ruger Jr. an heir to the Ruger Firearms Company. Within the last couple years, the mill was purchased for redevelopment into housing, which has not yet materialized.
Built in 1826 as the Eagle Hotel, this stunning federal structure is representative of the transition from the 18th century tavern, with its domestic scale and features, to a larger-scale 19th century hotel. The town of Newport was situated at the convergence of two stagecoach turnpikes, which transported people through the town regularly. Due to this, James Breck and Josiah Forsaith built the Eagle Hotel to meet that demand. By 1856, additional hotels were built and then owner, S.H. Edes converted the building into a business block. The upper floors were later occupied as apartments and porches were added to the front facade on each floor (since removed). The building is now home to Salt Hill Pub.
Located just off Main Street in Newport, NH, this stunning 1830s brick house shows an elegant blending of Federal and Greek Revival styles prominent at the time. The home was built for Joel Nettleton, a local hotel and stage coach owner, either by Nettleton himself, or by Samuel George, a local cabinetmaker and painter. The home is a great vernacular example of early-mid 19th century architecture in developing parts of inland New Hampshire and showcases a modest design, though with a use of brick showcasing some wealth. The town acquired the home in 2011 and it has since been occupied and preserved by the Newport Historical Society.