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.
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.
The architectural focal-point on Main Street in Newport, NH is the Newport Opera House, with its solid massing and prominent central tower. The town was growing after the American Civil War and its position as County Seat solidified that growth. A new large civic building was erected in 1872 which housed a new courthouse and town hall. A fire destroyed much of the buildings on Main Street in 1885, and destroyed the courthouse and town hall building. As a response to the loss of the building, a fire-proof structure was erected from designs by Hiram Beckwith, a regionally prominent architect from Claremont. The structure featured space for the county, town, and even an opera house! The jewel of the new building was the Opera House located on the second floor that housed a stage considered the largest north of Boston. The Newport Opera House soon became the center of entertainment in Sullivan County and patrons came from far away to enjoy the large variety of programs presented. The large hall played host to dances, boxing matches, weddings, political rallies, plays, school graduations and more! After a period of severe decline, a group of artists and residents of town worked together to restore the building and use the space as a performance center. It remains one of the finest buildings in this part of the state.
Located next door to the Lewis Block (last post) on Main Street in Newport, NH, the DeWolf Block showcases late Victorian design before the more generic 20th century main street architecture took hold. The DeWolf Block was built in 1893 by Samuel DeWolf Lewis, who also erected the Lewis Block, both named after himself. As was traditional with many business blocks, fraternal organizations occupied the upper floor of the building, and retail uses were located on the ground floor. In the case of the DeWolf Block, it was the Knights of Pythias. By the 1950’s the DeWolf Block was home to J. S. Hirsch Department Store, operated by Joshua & Sally Hirsch, until it was purchased by the Hubert family in the 1970’s. The Huberts operated a clothing store
there until the building was purchased by Sullivan County and has since housed the county offices. The DeWolf Block is a modest Romanesque Revival style building with large, round arched windows at the third story.
Following the granting of the royal charter in 1761, Newport, NH was incorporated and named after Henry Newport, a distinguished English soldier and statesman. With excellent soil for farming, and abundant water power from the Sugar River to run mills, Newport grew prosperous. The main street developed, leading to a proliferation of hotels and taverns that were soon situated along the length of Main Street to service the many travelers who stopped along the route, many such structures were wood frame construction. A fire devastated much of Main Street in Newport in 1885, leading to a massive rebuilding campaign by the town’s richest citizens. One of the earliest buildings constructed after the fire was the Lewis Block, developed by Frederick Lewis, who lived a block away, and his son Samuel DeWolf Lewis, who designed the block. The two-story building is broken up by brick pilasters with recessed corbelled detailing which give rise to buttresses capped by gablets (yes its a word), punctuating the flat roof profile.