Built sometime between 1749 and 1756, the Hart-Rice House, a little-altered example of Georgian architecture, stands out in the densely packed Hill section of Portsmouth, NH. The area contains amazing early homes, largely moved to their sites from nearby, saving them from the wrecking-ball of Urban Renewal in the 1970s. The house demonstrates the high-quality craftsmanship of its owner, ship-joiner Samuel Hart (1701-1766), who likely built the home himself. Decades later, William Rice, a sea-captain, purchased the home. Rice was a known privateer during the War of 1812, causing a lot of trouble for British ships off the shores.
Newington Old Town Hall // 1872
Set in Newington Center, the historic core of the quaint town of Newington, NH, this old Town Hall building looks much like it did when constructed 150 years ago. Newington was originally a part of the town of Dover, and due to boundary disputes among early river settlers and native people, this area was later called Bloody Point. The town was eventually incorporated in 1764, and town functions were held in the local meetinghouse, a common tradition at the time before the separation of church and state. After the American Civil War, the town erected this town hall building which was a one-stop shop for civic functions. The Old Town Hall has served as a school, meeting hall, government office building, home of the local Grange hall and as a local social hall. In 1872 when the building was completed, the town had just 414 residents, a number that has only doubled since that time. The design of the brick town hall is a blending of styles, all were out of fashion when this was built, which include Federal and Greek Revival elements. By the second half of the 20th century, new town offices were built nearby.
Clement Studebaker Jr. Summer Residence // 1915
This magnificent coastal mansion embodies historical elegance in Rye Beach, NH. Built in 1914-15 for Clement Studebaker Jr., the Studebaker Estate is one of the most elegant and most recognized residences on the New Hampshire coast, and among the best preserved. The Colonial Revival home is clad with shingle siding with two strong brick end walls. A solarium runs along the ocean-facing facade with ample glazing and delicate woodwork which presents a welcoming presence to passing motorists. Clement Studebaker Jr. was an American businessman and the son of wagon, carriage and automobile manufacturer Clement Studebaker. He held executive positions in the family’s automobile business, Studebaker Corporation. The Studebaker summer residence was recently sold, and the interior photographs are amazing!
George L. Allen Summer Residence // c.1895
This massive summer “cottage” in Rye Beach, NH, was built around 1895 for St. Louis businessman George L. Allen. The massive Colonial Revival home features a gambrel roof with a series of gabled, hipped and shed dormers to break it up. A circular driveway would have allowed visitors for Great Gatsby-esque parties to get dropped off by their driver and enter right into the home’s large stair-hall. The most stunning facade is the rear, which faces a lawn with views out to the Atlantic Ocean. A full-length porch on the first floor sits recessed under the floor above to provide shelter from the harsh summer sun. Sadly, the mansion has seen better days and appears to be a shadow of its former self. Luckily, almost all of the historic windows remain and the home can definitely be saved. Fingers and toes are crossed to see this beauty preserved.
Rye Beach Club // 1925
The Rye Beach Club is located right on Rye Beach, one of New Hampshire’s most upscale seaside communities, one whose history as a fashionable summer resort dates back to the 1840s. The Beach Club was established in 1925 in the decade after the First World War as the nation was experiencing a social transformation fueled by the postwar boom of the “Roaring Twenties”. As automobile ownership rates increased by the 1920s, the average motorist was no longer dependent upon schedules and the fixed routes of streetcars, railroads and steamboats. As one early historian of American recreation noted tongue-in-cheek, “The wealthy could make the fashionable tour in 1825, the well-to-do built up summer resorts of the 1890s, but every Tom, Dick and Harry toured the country in the 1930s.” As a result, many wealthy communities created private, exclusive recreation and social clubs where they would not be forced to mingle with the “average” American. Rye Beach residents formed the Rye Beach Club in 1925, which comprises of a rubblestone building with various wood-frame additions.
Rye Town Hall // 1839
Rye, New Hampshire sits on the short coast of the state, between the busy towns of Portsmouth and Hampton, and provides a respite from the swarms of tourists and beach-goers alike. Modern-day Rye was the first settlement in New Hampshire by Europeans, and was originally named Pannaway Plantation, established in 1623 at Odiorne’s Point (more on that later). The settlement was eventually abandoned for Strawbery Banke, which became Portsmouth, the historic port town we know today. The town was later a village of New Castle, and was known as Sandy Beach Village, before it was called “Rye”, for Rye in Sussex, England, and incorporated as its own town in 1785. The town met in a Meeting House until it purchased an old 1839 Methodist church in town. In 1873, the building was purchased by the town of Rye for $1000, with an additional $2658 spent on renovations, which added a new ground floor to increase the height from 1.5 stories to 2.5 stories, added 10 feet in depth to the building, and the two-stage tower and belfry. The Greek Revival building has long been a landmark in town, hosting dances, concerts, whist parties, singing schools, oyster parties and immunization clinics, beyond the typical governmental functions. There were calls to demolish the building for a modern town hall, which saw resistance (thankfully) and now the town has agreed on a land-swap with a bank, demolishing an old house to take over the bank building, turning it into some town offices.