Canterbury Shaker Trustee’s Office // 1831

The only brick building in the Canterbury Shaker Village, the Trustees’ Office, built in 1831, served as the office of the Lead Ministry and also housed a U.S. Post Office for the community beginning in October 1848. The building was made of bricks manufactured by a local family. The building was designed as the hub of the Canterbury Shaker’s considerable commercial enterprises. It housed only those Shakers who had the authority to conduct Village business, and they often hosted guests and clients who arrived from distant places, and met with townspeople and local officials to discuss civic matters impacting the community. Due to the community-facing nature of the building, the community spared no expense inside and out.

Canterbury Shaker Syrup Shop // c. 1780

When Benjamin Whitcher donated his farm for the beginnings of a utopian Shaker community, the land and buildings became the catalyst for the next 200 years of Shaker life in the community. It is known that Benjamin Whitcher constructed his farmhouse sometime between 1775 and 1782. With the arrival of the first Shakers in 1783, Whitcher allowed families to reside on the farmland, with the 1790 Census counting 35 people on the Whitcher property. This structure was one of the original structures on the old Whitcher Farm, and is possibly the oldest extant building in the Shaker village today. The building was moved to its present location in 1841 and was used for distilling sarsaparilla syrup for medicinal purposes by members of the community.

Canterbury Shaker Dwelling House // 1793

The second oldest purpose-built building in the Canterbury Shaker Village (after the 1792 Meeting House), is the dwelling house, constructed in 1793. The T-shaped structure was expanded numerous times and contains 56 rooms. The structure is the largest in the village and is notable for the large domed cupola, housing a Paul Revere bell. The first floor contained the village butcher shop, bakery, communal kitchen and dining room. For many years the second floor consisted of four bedrooms, two for elders and two for the sisters and the brethren. The third floor is also devoted to dwelling rooms. The Dwelling House was the residence of Canterbury’s last remaining Shaker sister, Ethel Hudson, who died in September 1992, the 200th anniversary year of the founding of the Canterbury Shaker community.

Canterbury Shaker Meeting House // 1792

The Canterbury Shaker Village was one of two Shaker communities existing in present-day New Hampshire (the other being Enfield Shaker Village, featured previously on here). In 1782 Israel Chauncey and Ebeneezer Cooley from the Mount Lebanon village of Shakers traveled to Canterbury and converted several prominent figures of the community by convincing some of the Christian farmers that the Shaker way was what they had been seeking. Among those converted to the Shakers, the Whitcher, Wiggin and Sanborn families, donated land to house the Canterbury Village community of Shakers and the Canterbury Village was founded in 1792, led by Father Job Bishop. The village expanded over time, and in 1803 there were 159 members in three families. Nearly fifty years later in 1850, the site contained 3,000 acres with a community of 300 housed in 100 buildings!

The first building of the Canterbury Village was the Meeting House. The Gambrel roofed building was constructed by members in reverent silence and supervised by Moses Johnson (1752-1842) who served as master builder of seven Shaker meetinghouses all over the Northeast. Inside, there were two stairways, one for men and one for women, located in the northwest and southwest corners of the building, each easily accessed by separate entrances, which led brothers and sisters from the first floor meeting room to the second story sleeping lofts.

In 1992, Canterbury Shaker Village closed, leaving only Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village open as a functioning community. There are apparently only two active Shakers left in the country, both at Sabbathday Lake in Maine. Many other villages like Canterbury, have been converted to museums, which give historians and the general public a great insight into how these places have functioned.

Willey Hotel // pre-1822

Originally an old tavern/inn, this wood-frame building in Newmarket, NH, was built for a member of the Rundlett Family who settled in town from nearby Portsmouth. The old building was known as Rundlett’s Tavern for a number of years, later renamed the Washington House, and eventually Silver’s Hotel by 1870. Under owner Joseph B. Silver, the Federal style building was updated with Victorian-era flair, marketing to visitors of town who had business with the Newmarket Manufacturing Company across the street. After Silver died in 1898, the building was purchased by George H. Willey and renamed the Willey Hotel/Willey House. He oversaw renovations in the 1920s to give it the Colonial Revival appearance we see today. The building is now apartments.

Old Stone School, Newmarket // 1841

Perched high on a hill, next to the Stone Church (featured previously), the old Stone School in Newmarket is one of a handful of iconic stone buildings in the town. Built in 1841, its stonework executed by William and Robert Channel, local farmers and stonemasons, who likely got their skill from building stone walls on farms. The building was used continuously as a school until 1966, when it was given to the Newmarket Historical Society, which now operates it as a local history museum.

Mathes Store // c.1835

Next door to the Mathes Block (previously featured) this stone commercial building is one of many such buildings that make Newmarket so beautiful and unique. Stone was harvested from the shores of the Lamprey River nearby and the beautiful coloring made them perfect for buildings in town. This building was constructed in the 1830s for Benjamin Mathes, a developer and businessman in town. The structure was occupied by the town post office in the early years, and now houses a restaurant.

Mathes Block // 1840

Right on Main Street in Newmarket, the Mathes Block is one of the best-preserved examples of a brick commercial building in town. The structure was seemingly built for Benjamin W. Mathes, who operated a grocery and dry goods store out of the storefronts. Above, he likely had offices or a dwelling for workers. The building stands out for the contrast of granite at the storefront with the brick elsewhere. The building is now home to The Riverworks, an aptly named restaurant/pub with great food.

James Paul House // c.1835

The James Paul House in Durham, NH, stands out as a rare example of stone construction in town. The house was built between 1830 and 1840, and is transitional Federal/Greek Revival in style. It has four tall chimneys (two on each slope of the roof), granite lintels over the windows, and granite quoins at the corners which together, create an elegant composition. Tragically, James Paul died unexpectedly when removing the staging on this house, he was never able to live in this beauty. The home was occupied by two reverends of a local church.

Smith Memorial Chapel // 1900

The Smith Memorial Chapel, located in Durham, NH, was built for and named after Hamilton Smith by his wife, Alice Congreve, in 1900. From their marriage in 1886, Hamilton and Alice Smith lived in England for ten years, where Hamilton worked and lived in mining operations in South Africa. He had a home in New York and by the end of 1895, Hamilton acquired property in Durham to create a country estate (next post). On the Fourth of July in 1900, Hamilton and a family friend went boating downriver on the Oyster River, in Durham along with his two dogs Hana and Joy. While attempting to free the boat after it ran aground, he suffered a fatal heart attack at just 59 years old. Almost immediately, his widow Alice funded a memorial chapel to her late husband on the family cemetery. The Gothic Revival chapel features amazing lancet stained glass windows and stone buttresses resembling old English chapels. Also on the grounds of the cemetery are the burials of Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their beloved dogs, marked by small gravestones. The property, including the small cemetery in which both family members and pets are interred, remained in the family until 1979, when it was donated to the town.