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.
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.
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.
Durham, New Hampshire, sits beside Great Bay at the mouth of the Oyster River, an ideal location for settlement, like the Western Abenaki and their ancestors who’ve lived in the region for an estimated 11,000 years. By 1633, English colonists were spread along the tidal shores of the Oyster River, and brought non-native livestock aboard their ships, “thousands of cattle, swine, sheep, and horses,” requiring them to clear acres merely for pasture. Formerly un-molested fields, carefully cultivated across centuries, were trampled and their crops destroyed. Due to this, violence between the native people and colonizers erupted, and livestock were frequently killed. The Abenaki saw them as a direct threat to their food supply. The Oyster River Plantation (as it was originally named by colonizers), was so named Durham in 1732 when it was incorporated, after County Durham in England.
Built in 1825 by Joseph Coe, local merchant and shipbuilder, this brick building was constructed as a prominent corner store with two stories of windows for commercial use and a top floor apartment. The brick structure is an excellent example of Federal style architecture in the Great Bay area of New Hampshire, and its location at the end of Main Street, where it converges with Dover and Newmarket roads, historic routes to the town’s neighbors, provided a lot of traffic of potential customers.After years of meeting in taverns and schoolhouses, the town selectmen voted in 1840 to purchase Coe’s Store for use as a town hall. They purchased the building, later opening the top two floors into one large meeting space. The town outgrew the building and relocated across the street, and since 1961, the building has been occupied by the Durham Historic Association and Museum.
The Newington Railroad Depot was built in 1873 at the narrowest point at the Piscataqua River as part of the Portsmouth and Dover Railroad. The Portsmouth and Dover Railroad Company was chartered in 1866 in order to provide a link between the eastern and western divisions of the Boston and Maine Railroad and also included the means to cross Great Bay. The rail line was completed in 1874 and included this railroad depot which included a residence for the stationmaster while he collected tolls for pedestrians and carriages crossing the bridge nearby, and operated the swing section of the bridge to permit boat traffic to pass. By 1915, the one story wing was constructed which served as a 10’x20′ waiting room and ticket office. The offshoot rail line remained in service until the completion of the General Sullivan Bridge in 1934, due to the popularity of the automobile. The rail line was subsequently abandoned, and the nearby tracks were taken up in 1940. Elmer Brooks, the longtime stationkeeper was allowed to remain in the old depot, renting the building from the State of New Hampshire, who acquired the site in 1940. He lived here until his death in 1971. After which, the building has decayed. The State of New Hampshire should restore this valuable piece of history and has an amazing opportunity for a park in the surrounding area. Hopefully something is done to preserve the building!
When the first floor of the Old Town Hall was deemed too cramped for the students of Newington, NH, to receive their education, the town worked out a solution, build a new school. Town revenue from timber-cutting in the Town Forest (the oldest Town Forest in the United States) helped finance construction of the school. Additionally, many landowners and farmers were asked to gather and donate stones on their properties and in stone walls for the material of the new building, which many contributed. The school closed in 1959, not long after the Pease Air Force Base was expanded and destroyed much of the southern edge of town. The U.S. Government acquired many parcels of land in Newington and Portsmouth and redeveloped the site over time in the mid 20th century. In Newington, the government leveled 26 local homesteads an action that left a deep scar on the town’s collective memory. The town has used the building for years, but only recently acquired the property from the Federal Government when they de-accessioned some of their properties here. Hopefully this building will be restored and serve as an educational tool for the town’s later generations.
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.
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!
Built at the same time as his summer residence in Rye Beach (last post), George Allen had this gorgeous carriage house built to store his horses and carriage to get around his summertime town. The carriage house is a blending of the Colonial Revival and Shingle styles that mimics much of the main home’s design including the gambrel roof and columned entry. Sometime in the 20th century, with no more use of a carriage house, the property was sold off by heirs of Mr. Allen and converted to a private residence. The new owners have preserved the essence of the original use and made the home stand out among the adjacent mansions.
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.