New Ipswich Center Village Historic District
The New Ipswich Center Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The New Ipswich Center Village Historic District comprises the primary settlement area in the town of New Ipswich which is located in rural southwestern Hillsborough County. The New Ipswich Center Village Historic District possesses examples of periods of historical development and architectural styles spanning from the 1730s to the 1920s. The most densely populated section of town, this area became the center of community life. Although the structures represented are primarily residential, the grouping also indicates resources relating to the commercial, industrial, professional, religious, and educational life of New Ipswich.
The New Ipswich Center Village Historic District is included in the National Register of Historic Places under criterion for architecture. It possesses integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. The noncontributing resources present do not detract significantly from the overall character. The New Ipswich Center Village Historic District is the historic center of the town of New Ipswich, a mid late-eighteenth century village. In the early 19th century the Third New Hampshire Turnpike passed through the village, making it an important trading point along the route. During the late-19th and early-20th centuries, the village became a summer retreat for many people from the Boston area. Natives and inhabitants from New Ipswich's Center Village included men of statewide prominence who were instrumental in several New England industries, including textile manufacturing, piano manufacturing, cabinet making, and oatmeal production. Others were noted scholars, artists, merchants, antiquarians, physicians, academics, and musicians. The New Ipswich Center Village Historic District's period of significance runs from 1735, the date of the original grant (and the earliest resource — a fragment of Old Country Road) to the end of the summer visitor period about 1930.
Located within the New Ipswich Center Village Historic District are approximately 150 properties, ranging in date from the 1730s to the 1980s, with the majority built prior to 1850. The New Ipswich Center Village Historic District includes six present and former school buildings, two churches, two cemeteries, a town pound, a library, three late-20th century commercial buildings (all located along the Turnpike), a former mid-20th century post office and a former early-19th century post office/law office, two civic buildings (a town hall and a mid-19th century fire, now police station), a mid-19th century meeting hall, several buildings that were used as taverns or hotels, and three former 19th century shops.
In addition to this range of functional types, the built resources of the New Ipswich Center Village Historic District include examples of the following styles of architecture: Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, French Second Empire, and Shingle style.
New Ipswich Village is a microcosm of community life as it evolved from earliest settlement through the summer visitor period. Evidence of all phases of the town's development, commerce, and daily life is still apparent. New Ipswich displays two centuries of growth and activity beginning in the 1730s. This is .the largest and most varied among the villages in the area. The others tend to be smaller groupings such as Mason, Temple, Wilton Center, and Sharon. Within southwestern Hillsborough County, New Ipswich's Center Village is unique as the most complete and diverse.
Early Settlement Period: 1730-1799
The Town of New Ipswich was included in the 1621 grant from King James I to John Mason, an area that encompassed much of the Province of New Hampshire. Following the English Restoration, the grant, which had been neglected, was reclaimed by Mason's heirs. In the 1730s inhabitants from a number of Massachusetts towns petitioned for additional land, which resulted in the establishment of several new townships in the Monadnock region.
In 1735 sixty inhabitants from the town of Ipswich were granted a township six miles square, to be called New Ipswich. It is natural that the first settler came from Ipswich, Massachusetts, as the original petitioners for the area were established there, and New Ipswich was then part of the Province of Massachusetts. The town's first permanent settler is generally accepted to be Abijah Foster, who moved from Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1738. Although a few settlers followed Foster soon thereafter, the town's growth was limited in part by serious disputes over ownership and control of the land. Heirs to John Mason claimed the area on the basis of that grant. In 1745, the British Crown ruled in favor of John Tufton Mason, a native of Boston and grandson of the original grantee. In addition to not having clear title to the land they were attempting to settle, the town's first residents were nervous about Indians who remained active in the area during the mid-eighteenth century. The outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1744 exacerbated this situation, and in 1748 all the town's residents, with the exception of Captain Tucker, fled the area following repeated reports of an Indian raid in nearby Ashby, Massachusetts. (Kidder and Gould, p.45.) In 1749, immediately following the French and Indian War, several of the original petitioners rejoined with the existing settlers in town and others to procure a new grant with clear title, which was signed in April 1750. The conditions of the grant were familiar for the period. Each grantee was required to build a house and clear three acres of land within two years and an additional nine acres within five years. The grantees as a group were required to erect a meetinghouse and "settle a learned and orthodox minister" within seven years, set aside ten acres of public land, and to reserve suitable white pine trees for masts in the King's navy. (Kidder and Gould, pp.31-32.)
Settlement in New Ipswich went smoothly. During the next 15 years the population of the area increased from about 140 to over 350 persons, as documented in the 1763 tax records. Among these early settlers were farmers who clustered on what is now Town Hill and in the low valley which makes up the majority of Center Village. Most of the New Ipswich Center Village Historic District was part of two original farms dating from the 1750s — Joseph Kidder's which covered the Main Street area, and Joseph Bates' (formerly Foster's) north of the Kidder property and now the Turnpike Road area. There was apparently no repeat disturbance from Indians. Both a saw and grist mill were built immediately, located on the Souhegan River, outside of Center Village. The Center Village itself, which remains the most densely populated section of the community, became the center of village life.
In 1759, the Proprietors chose Reverend Stephen Farrar to be the town's minister. Farrar proved a wise choice. Although, like most of the new settlers in town, he was young (only twenty-one years old at the time of his arrival), his fifty years of leadership in the community were strong and of great influence. During most of his ministry, Reverend Farrar lived in a house he built on Turnpike Road, located near the main route through town, Old Country Road. In addition to his ministry and farm work, Farrar built and managed a grist mill and malt factory just north of his house.
By 1763 there were four or five houses in the Village (Kidder, p.61), of which two stand: the Preston-King House on King Road, built in 1763-64 and the Reverend Stephen Farrar House on Turnpike Road, built ca.1762. The historical town center was located atop Meetinghouse Hill (Porter Hill Road). There, ten acres were set aside for a common; the meetinghouse was erected in 1759, a parsonage for Reverend Farrar built ca.1762, a burial ground established in 1752, a schoolhouse built in 1771 and a grist mill constructed by the Farrar Family.
In 1789, a group of thirty-two gentlemen subscribers, including some of the region's most distinguished citizens, established the New Ipswich Academy. It was the second such academy incorporated in New Hampshire, the first being Phillips Exeter Academy established only five years earlier. Incorporators of the New Ipswich Academy (later renamed Appleton Academy) included members of the Champney, Preston, Barrett, Kidder, Appleton, and Farrar families who desired to provide a distinguished education for their children, both boys and girls. The school's purpose was to provide a sound liberal arts education "in the English, Latin and Greek languages, in Writing, Arithmetic, Music and the Art of Speaking, practical Geometry, Logic, Geography, and such other of the liberal arts and sciences or languages, as opportunity may hereafter permit" (Act of Incorporation, 1789). That same year, the Old New Ipswich Academy building was erected near the Meetinghouse and parson's house; the building still stands, though converted to a residence in the early 19th century after a replacement was erected. In the early years, students boarded with village residents; Reverend Farrar was one who took in boarders. (Lee, 1861, p.30.) The Academy's presence in New Ipswich was a marked one, influencing the development of the town in many ways over the next 125 years. Among the Academy's early pupils were some of the state's most influential citizens, including members of the Appleton, Barrett, Kidder, Preston, and Farrar families, who continued on to Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale or Bowdoin College. Throughout the 19th century, the Academy had a roster of distinguished alumni, a number of whom became summer residents in later years.
Thus, by the end of the 18th century, New Ipswich Center Village was flourishing. In addition to Old Country Road, a section of Main Street (from the Old Burying Ground southwest toward Smith Village), Willard Road, and King Road (the early route to Temple, continuing along Tenney Road), had been laid out. A library had been started and additional frame houses, most of substantial size, had been built. A number of houses of this period still stand, sited along Old Country Road and Main Street. Most are two-and-a-half story Georgian houses, conservatively designed, with five-bay facades, central entrances (some with early entrance porticos) and central chimneys. Only one hip-roof Georgian house is extant, built by Charles Barrett, Sr. In addition to the larger houses, several one-and-a-half story Georgian houses survive with the exception of one whose date is unknown but which is located on a road that was not laid out until 1820, each dates from the late-18th century.
The early taverns in the Village were on Old Country Road, the only through road prior to the advent of the Turnpike. The Champney-Preston House was erected in 1783 and used as an inn for six years. Farther east was the Jonathan Dix Tavern which stood on the site of the Lee House. Elsewhere in the Village were scattered places of business. From a wing in the Barr House, a store was operated by first Josiah Rogers and later Ephraim Hartwell. Samuel Appleton and Charles Barrett, Jr. managed a store that stood on the southwest corner of the Pritchard-Clark House. Although most of the mill activity in New Ipswich was carried on beyond the bounds of Center Village, there were two establishments for manufacturing pot and pearl ashes in the district, and both a starch factory and a malt making business were located near the Old Burying Ground. The tannery below the Old Burying Ground, was opened about 1787, later joined by a slaughtering house. However, the bulk of trading and manufacturing activity did not arrive until the Turnpike was laid out through the village. The Center Village was largely agricultural, evidenced in the open fields and vast clearing undertaken by the early settlers.
The Turnpike Era: 1800-1850
In 1799 a single event shaped the future history of New Ipswich and Center Village. That year the Third New Hampshire Turnpike was chartered. Its course ran through the Town, just north of Old Country Road. Extending fifty miles from Bellows Falls, Vermont to the Massachusetts line, the Turnpike "channeled the wealth of lower Vermont ...toward Boston." (Garvin, p.52.) Like all Turnpikes of the era, the road was privately financed and initially a toll road. Although it proved unprofitable as a toll road (built at a cost of about $50,000), it was a boon to the Center Village. Prior to its arrival, the town had only one through road, the Old Country Road, of far lesser quality. Not only did the Turnpike provide direct access to trading centers, but turnpikes were known for their high level of engineering and high capital investment. In fact, maintenance agreements were part of their operation. (Garvin, p.53.)
The impact of the Turnpike in New Ipswich was vast. By 1802, a stage run was operating from Groton, Massachusetts, and by 1807 the stages were running three times weekly from Boston to Keene. In 1820 daily service was established. The town's first coach houses were built shortly after the advent of the Turnpike. By 1810 the Champney-Preston House and the Barrett Mansion had coach houses. Samuel Batchelder, Jr: built one onto his house, presumably when it was constructed in 1813. In addition to facilitating trade with other towns, the travel route created increased demand for lodging. Along the Turnpike were constructed three taverns, including one in Center Village, the 1808 House, the only one which still survives. That building was first erected as a store in 1808 by Isaiah Kidder and converted to a tavern ten years later under the management of Joseph Newell. Although it passed through many hands in the first half of the 19th century, its prominence was never challenged. Shortly after the Turnpike was laid out, the Reverend Farrar House became a tavern. Although the house predated the Turnpike and was located off Old Country Road, the Turnpike's route ran directly in front of it.
In 1802, Dr. John Preston erected New Ipswich's first house along the Turnpike, a hip-roof, Federal style house. Dr. Preston was the son of an early settler and for many years was the only doctor in town. On either side of the Preston House are Federal houses dating from the early 1810s. The Samuel Batchelder, Jr. House was erected in 1813 by Batchelder who became a prosperous textile manufacturer. After investing in New Ipswich's second cotton mill, Batchelder was the prime force behind the Hamilton Manufacturing Company in Lowell, Massachusetts. Batchelder's sophistication was expressed in the imported French scenic wallpaper installed in his parlor. A later owner, George Sanders, operated a tin shop that stood just to the east of the house. Appleton Manor was begun ca.1817 by John F. Hills, a successful farmer and businessman who operated a school in the village. The house was later occupied by Joseph Appleton, a nephew of the noted Samuel Appleton. Like Batchelder, Appleton also installed scenic French wallpaper. Other Federal houses along the Turnpike include the Nathan Sanders House. The Greek Revival style is also well represented on the Turnpike itself. The most stylish example exhibits a strong Gothic Revival influence; the Stephen Thayer House built in 1838 by a local entrepreneur whose business activities included operating cigar and match factories and a bakery in the village, and owning a lumber mill. Other examples of Greek Revival houses include the Brown-Eaton House, the Cutting-Eaton House, the Lawrence-Phelps House Stephen, Thayer's Cigar Shop and Nathan Sander's tin shop.
In addition to taverns and houses, the Turnpike became lined with stores and small businesses. The Old Corner Store (demolished 1946, Lot B), was built in 1813 on the southeast corner of the Turnpike and Main Street by Samuel Batchelder, Jr. to replace his previous store. In 1861 the local post office moved into the building; the store remained a major local gathering place for over 130 years. Another store stood on the site of the Silas Wheeler House. Three tin shops were located along the route. A blacksmith shop was found on Temple Road just off the Turnpike, and Stephen Thayer's match factory stood near the junction of King Road (formerly the road to Temple) and the Turnpike. A cigar shop, a bake shop, a paint shop, and Benjamin Champney's law office were other businesses that took advantage of the Turnpike traffic through Center Village. Shortly after the Turnpike opened, the school was relocated from the historic town center on Meetinghouse Hill to a site further down Main Street to the east.
Beyond the increase in local businesses, the Turnpike drew professional itinerants of all types. Musicians, painters, and dancers all traveled through town, offering their services to local citizens and bringing hitherto unavailable opportunity with them. (Garvin, p.98.)
The Turnpike had a profound effect on the village's road system. After it opened, a new road linking it to Old Country Road was opened in 1802 (part of Main Street). In 1815 it was extended to the tanyard. Temple Road was laid out in 1820, replacing the earlier road to Temple at the east end of the district. Upper and Lower School Streets date from ca.1850. Elsewhere in town, new roads that met the Turnpike at right angles were introduced, and earlier roads that paralleled it were abandoned.
Along the village roads sprang up stylish Federal and Greek Revival houses. The Barrett Mansion was the preeminent example of Federal architecture, built for the newly married Charles Barrett, Jr. and his wife Martha Minot in 1800. Elsewhere along Main Street are other Federal houses built in the aftermath of the Turnpike, including the Locke-Quimby House, the Matthias Wilson House, the Farwell-Fox House, the Abel Shattuck House, and the Farwell-Spaulding House. Each is a five-bay, two-and-a-half story house, often with a fanlit central entry and shallow hip roof. The Greek Revival style is represented by the Tolman-Sanderson House, the Jefts-Taylor House, the Dolly Everett House, and the Shedd-Preston House/Friendship Manor.
Like the others in New Hampshire, the Third New Hampshire Turnpike was a financial failure. In 1824 it was made a public highway. The advent of the railroad around thirty years later, however, effectively siphoned most of its traffic. Since the railroad bypassed Center Village, running instead into Mason Village (later Greenville) several miles away, both the village and the Turnpike were no longer as active as they had been. One of the only continuing uses of the road was by seasonal drovers who brought cattle from farms in the outer Boston area, northwest to New Ipswich pastures for the summer. (Preston.)
Coincidentally with the Turnpike era, though apparently not directly related to it, was the shift of the historic town center on Meetinghouse Hill to a spot about one-half mile farther south. The new location was geographically more centered in the town and on flatter land. In 1809 the new Central Cemetery on Main Street opened, offering an alternative to the Old Burying Ground on Porter Hill Road. Three years later, a new meetinghouse was erected on the site of the present Congregational Church, at the junction of Main Street and Preston Hill Road, near the new cemetery. (The 1812 meetinghouse burned in 1902 and was replaced on the same site the following year.) Across the road, a new Town Hall/Academy building was erected in 1816-17. In 1815 a Baptist meetinghouse was constructed just west of the Town Hall; it was moved to Main Street and enlarged in 1850.
Two school buildings in New Ipswich Village date from the Turnpike era. In 1829 a new brick district school, Old Number 1 School House, was built to replace the former school across Old Country Road. The building now serves as the local Historical Society's headquarters. A frame Greek Revival school was erected ca.1842 to serve District 13; it currently functions as a town storage shed.
It was probably no coincidence that within two years after the Turnpike opened, the first cotton mill in New Hampshire was erected along the Souhegan River in what became the Bank Village section of New Ipswich. Although the site was not within the Center Village, its existence had a profound impact on the development of the whole area as New Ipswich became a thriving early mill town during the first quarter of the 19th century. Two of the three investors were residents of Center Village, Charles Barrett, Sr. and Benjamin Champney. With Charles Robbins, the men built a mill employing the principles of textile manufacturing first introduced at Slater's Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island only a few years prior. In 1807 a second mill was organized, also along the banks of the Souhegan River. Circa 1820 the first mill was replaced by a second mill on the same site, later known as Waterloom Factory. Charles Barrett, Jr. and Samuel Appleton were among the owners. Thus, rather than remaining a collection of isolated farm-oriented villages, the town was soon a commercial and trading center. Although most of its early industrial and commercial structures are gone, the fine residences built by these early entrepreneurs survive along Main Street and elsewhere throughout the Center Village. One surviving commercial structure is the New Ipswich Bank Building built in 1845 for the Manufacturers' Bank, which had been established earlier in Bank Village.
New Ipswich lays claim to an unusual number of distinguished native sons and residents, particularly from the late-18th and early-19th centuries when the town was first developing. Over the years, many of the families intermarried and invested in businesses together. All were graduates of Appleton Academy and later generations of each family, many of whom also attended the Academy, returned here as summer residents. Perhaps the most recognized name is that of the Appleton family, one of the most influential families in Hillsborough County and who were instrumental in the New England Industrial Revolution. (New England Monthly, p.105) Deacon Isaac Appleton was one of the town's original settlers; the house he built in 1756 stands just outside the district on Appleton Road. His sons Samuel and Nathan were both graduates of the New Ipswich Academy (later renamed Appleton Academy). Nathan Appleton was one of the Boston Associates who, with Francis Cabot Lowell and others, introduced textile manufacturing on a large scale in New England and established the City of Lowell, Massachusetts. Nathan's grandson William Sumner Appleton, Jr., was the founder of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities and owned the family homestead from 1914 until 1948. Samuel Appleton (1766-1853) began his highly successful mercantile career in a store at the foot of Meetinghouse Hill (in front of the Pritchard-Clark House; building removed c.1910) which he operated in conjunction with Charles Barrett, Jr. Appleton was a principal investor in Waterloom Factory, (the cotton factory in Bank Village built in 1820 to replace the state's first such factory built 18 years earlier.) He was major benefactor to the town, particularly to the Academy to which he donated funds, globes, and the nucleus of a library; his brother Isaac donated an important genealogy volume. The Academy was ultimately renamed Appleton Academy in 1853 in honor of Samuel's contributions, including a substantial sum to erect a new building completed that year. (The Academy Building burned in 1941, the present structure in the same style on the same site was built the following year.) Samuel Appleton's sister, Dolly Everett, moved back to New Ipswich following her husband's death in 1813. She lived on Main Street in a house that she bequeathed to the Congregational Church for a parsonage. Mrs. Everett also donated the bell that hung in the 1853 Appleton Academy building. Another sister, Mary Appleton, who married Joseph Barrett, lived in an imposing Federal house on the Turnpike formerly owned by her nephew Joseph. One of the family's cousins, also born in New Ipswich, was Jesse Appleton, who was the president of Bowdoin College for 12 years.
The Barrett family is another distinguished family with long and strong New Ipswich connections. Charles Barrett, Sr. (1739-1808) and his wife Rebecca Minot of the prominent Boston banking family, arrived in New Ipswich ca.1764. They built the Charles Barrett Sr. House on Main Street ca.1780. Barrett was a highly influential figure, who was a principal investor in the Temple Glassworks factory, the first such enterprise in northern New England. He was the prime developer of the mills, locks, and canal system in Hope, Maine. He invested in the first cotton mill in New Hampshire, built in 1801 in the Bank Village section of New Ipswich. Active politically, first as a loyalist, he later became an arch Federalist and was delegate to the state convention to ratify the constitution. Despite a few interruptions, the house remained in the Barrett and Barr families (which intermarried) until given to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities in 1948.
In 1800, Charles and Rebecca Minot Barrett built the elegant mansion house on Main Street just south of their own home as a wedding gift to their son Charles who married Martha Minot in 1799. Charles Barrett, Jr. (1773-1836) was also involved in early cotton manufacturing in New Ipswich, investing in the Waterloom Factory in Bank Village. He was Samuel Appleton's partner in the store later operated by his son George. Both of Charles Barrett, Jr.'s sons, George and Charles III, later lived at Forest Hall, as the mansion house was known. His grandson George Robert Barrett (1844-1916) used the mansion house as a summer residence in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, at a time when many of the houses along Main Street were occupied only seasonally. George Robert Barrett, like most of the summer residents, lived in Boston where he devoted himself to his manuscript collection. He served as president of the Board of Trustees of Appleton Academy. George Robert's wife was Elizabeth Barr, widow of George Lyman Barr, another prominent New Ipswich resident. The Barrett's grand house, one of the state's supreme examples of residential Federal architecture, was owned by family members until 1948 when it was donated to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA) by George Robert's step-daughter, Caroline Barr Wade, who also left the aforementioned Charles Barrett, Sr. house to SPNEA.
The first Barr to arrive in New Ipswich was James Barr (1752- 1829) who came here ca.1775 and lived first on Knight's Hill and later on Page Hill, outside the Village. Barr brought with him from his native Scotland the knowledge of how to prepare and hull oats for oatmeal, a process hitherto unknown in this country. With his father-in-law, he operated a small mill to produce oatmeal, highly prized by Boston apothecaries. Of Barr's 14 children, the best known in New Ipswich was Dr. James Barr (1790-1845) who began practicing medicine here ca.1816. After his marriage in 1824 to Laura Livermore Bellows, Dr. Barr moved into his wife's grandparents' house on Old Country Road, a stately Georgian house with extensive grounds overlooking Appleton Common and built ca.1768. Here the Barr family remained over 140 years. Dr. Barr's son, George Lyman Barr, was an antiquarian; his widow, Elizabeth, later married George Robert Barrett. His daughter, Caroline Frances Barr, lived here until her death in 1922. During her ownership, the grounds were extensively planted and included the state's largest willow tree. She was a charter member of the New Ipswich Historical Society, as well as a founder and major benefactor of the New Ipswich Library.
At one time the Barr family occupied all of the houses on the east side of Appleton Common. George Lyman Barr's four children all maintained summer residences here, while wintering in Boston. His daughter Elizabeth Barr Keyser and her husband lived just to the east in one of the earliest Georgian houses in Center Village. Another daughter, Laura Maria Barr, owned the Charles Barrett, Sr. House next door to the Barrett Mansion, occupied by her mother and step-father. His sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Samuel T. Ames, lived across the Village Green in a large Colonial Revival summer home. His son James C. Barr (1867-1942) purchased the Hurd-Newall House on Main Street ca.1912. Barr gradually acquired all the land along the east side of Main Street, between Old Country Road and the Turnpike, excluding only the Library and the Corner Store. He moved the William Hassall House from between the Library and his own house to its present site west of the Monadnock Bank. He used the Homestead Inn, which stood on the northeast corner of Main Street and the Old Country Road, as a hotel. However, his plans were ruined when the Homestead Inn was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve, 1929. During World War I, Barr constructed the riverstone wall that runs along Main Street.
Nathaniel Duren Gould, the pioneer of children's singing schools and penmanship expert, was a New Ipswich resident in the early 19th century. His son, Augustus Addison Gould (1805-1866) was a founder of the Boston Society of Natural History, as well as a noted illustrator of naturalist subjects who worked with Louis Agassiz. Another son, Charles D. Gould, was a Boston merchant and book publisher; among his works is the 1852 History of New Ipswich.
The Champney and Preston families have long associations in New Ipswich and with their house on Main Street. Ebenezer Champney was a prominent local lawyer and ancestor of the present owners, the Preston family. Champney's son Benjamin was also a noted lawyer as well as the first postmaster in New Ipswich; his office, which also held the post office for 20 years, was on the Barr House land; it has recently been moved back to that property. His grandson, Benjamin Crackbone Champney, who was born here, was a pioneer White Mountain painter. Another grandson, John Preston, moved into the house in 1830. Preston was also a local lawyer and active in state politics. His son, Frank W. Preston, was similarly active locally, as treasurer of the New Ipswich Savings Bank, as well as of Appleton Academy where he taught.
Jonas Chickering, the leader in piano manufacturing, is perhaps the town's best known native. (Antiques, 1973.) Born in 1798, Chickering moved from Greenville to New Ipswich when he was six years old. At the age of 17 he became an apprentice with John Gould, whose cabinetmaking shop on Main Street was the only one of its kind within 20 miles (Taylor, "Jonas Chickering," NIHS #6.) In 1817, Chickering saw his first piano, which belonged to Mary Batchelder, the wife of Samuel. According to family tradition, Mrs. Batchelder asked Gould to repair the lid of her piano; Chickering was sent instead and, after listening to Mrs. Batchelder play, decided to enter the piano manufacturing business. The next year, Chickering left for Boston where he eventually opened his own shop.
Civil War Era: 1840-1880
After the failure of the Turnpike and the routing of the railroad into Mason Village (later Greenville) in the 1850s, Center Village entered a period of quietude that lasted over a century. Although commerce and trade must have diminished with alternative transportation available, the Village's population remained constant. During this period, several of the houses owned by the Village's more affluent families, the Appletons and Barretts, were renovated with the addition of a stylish mansard roof. At least three new houses were constructed in the Second Empire style, as well, indicating that the Village remained an attractive residential enclave. Among the non-residential buildings in the New Ipswich Center Village Historic District that date from this era are the District #1 Schoolhouse which replaced the brick schoolhouse on Main Street in 1860, and Union Hall, built ca.1850. In the center of the Village, in front of the 1808 House, stood a bandstand (removed in 1911) and drinking fountain patented by Henry Clapp (removed 1930). For many years, hay scales were located at the foot of Temple Road.
In 1850 the Baptist Church was relocated to the junction of Old Country Road and Main Street and remodeled to its present Greek Revival appearance. Three years later a new Appleton Academy building was erected, thus separating the private school from the town offices. The Academy building was a handsome brick late-Federal with Italianate elements. (It burned in 1941 and was replaced by the existing Appleton Academy.)
A directory published in 1858 offers an indication of the variety of village businessman during this period. The only employer of any size was the cigar factory which employed around 15 people, but there were two attorneys, bakers, blacksmiths, butchers, jewelers and doctors. Six carpenters and six tinmen are listed, as well as four merchants and three shoemakers. Only one livery stable was in operation.
In 1862 a tradition was begun that continues to this day, the Children's Fair. Started by the minister of the Congregational Church and E.T. Quimby, the principal of the Academy and resident of the Locke-Quimby House on Main Street, the Children's Fair was conceived as a means to involve the church's children in charitable community projects. Each child was encouraged to either grow vegetables or to make something; the items were then sold during the fair, with the proceeds going to a variety of charitable causes.
Summer Visitor Era: 1880-1930
The decline of New Ipswich in the last half of the 19th century was a phenomenon shared by many towns in New Hampshire. Bypassed by the railroad, the villages suffered a loss of importance and economic stimulus. Manufacturing centers lured many young adults off the farms. Others, introduced to the Midwest during the Civil War, stayed there after the war to farm the fertile land. New Ipswich was certainly not alone in this situation. Dozens of New Hampshire communities suffered similar population and economic losses. In the Monadnock region, most of the early hilltop communities were thus affected, including Temple, Hancock, Jaffrey Center, Lyndeborough, and Wilton Center. Towns averaged five abandoned farms, plus more for sale. (New Hampshire Farms for Sale.) To assist these communities, the State initiated an ambitious program to lure summer visitors to the state, publicizing farms for sale in the hopes of their being used for summer houses. Several publications entitled New Hampshire Summer Farms for Sale were circulated between 1891 and 1921 to inform potential buyers of these opportunities. In the earliest issues, there are several entries for New Ipswich, but by 1902 there are virtually none. Many of the farms had been purchased by Finnish families who had settled in Fitchburg or Worcester and were employed by the weaving mills or granite quarries, but later moved to rural areas. Often, the men remained in the factories during the week, leaving the farm work to the women and children. Although the farms tended to be outside the Center Village, the Finnish influence permeated the New Ipswich Center Village Historic District area. The Apostolic Lutheran Church, a conservative branch of the Lutheran Church, was established in New Ipswich in 1905; the church later bought the Baptist Church, thus establishing a presence in the heart of the village.
For many towns the development of summer resort activities was their only hope of survival. The railroad that bypassed New Ipswich now provided a critical connection. From the Greenville station, a stage brought visitors to New Ipswich. During the height of the summer visitor period, ca.1890-1925, as many as 600 visitors came annually, increasing the local population by nearly one-half. (Chandler, p.148.) Although the White Mountains were the destination of most of the state's tourists, many preferred the gentler countryside of the Monadnock region. The key to a successful boarding house lay in fresh air, shade trees, wholesome (and preferably homegrown) food, and lovely views of fields. (Garvin, p.181.) In New Ipswich, the stream of summer visitors arrived shortly after the Civil War when some of the outlying farms received boarders for the summer, a situation common to the area.
By 1892, the town had two hotels, both located within the Village. The Appleton Arms (later known as Appleton Inn or Manor) could accommodate 75 guests, and Clark's Hotel (later known as the 1808 House) with a capacity for 30. Several boarding houses were found in the village, but most were located in more rural settings. Yet, there were some entrepreneurs who felt the existing accommodations to be lacking. In the 1907 edition of the Townsman, it was claimed that New Ipswich, a "classic town with maple-lined streets, beautiful drives, noble mountains, broad valleys, and winding river...needs a spacious summer hotel." Perhaps a hotel on the scale of the Monadnock Inn in Jaffrey was what was in mind, but in any case, it never came to New Ipswich.
The Homestead Inn, a Federal house which stood on the northeast corner of Old Country Road and Main Street, was a charitable institution established ca.1895 by the rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Boston. The parish provided money and furnishings for the house which "became a house of refuge for weary shopgirls and self-supporting women who need the rest and tonic of quiet, fresh air, abundant food, and social cheer...Many a weary woman after spending a few weeks here goes home cheered and refreshed and ready to meet the work another year." (Chandler, p.152) Approximately 30 guests would be accommodated here. The Inn operated from about 1890 until 1915 when it was purchased by James Barr.
Many of the houses along Main Street, including virtually every house along the section from the Charles Barrett, Sr. House to the former Baptist Parsonage, were used only by seasonal occupants during this period. Most of the summer residents came from the Boston area and many were graduates of Appleton Academy, who returned to renew their ties with the community and enjoy its rural scenery and, in some cases, to be near relatives. Despite the prominence of several of its residents, New Ipswich never had the wealth or social status of nearby Dublin or Jaffrey Center. In fact, a 1905 brochure that listed New Hampshire summer resort communities barely mentions New Ipswich. ("New Hampshire as a Summer Resort.") The Misses Gibbs and Cervi who lived on Main Street were teachers at Concord Academy in Massachusetts. Their house had previously been owned by the Thurston sisters who taught in the Newton, Massachusetts school system. Miss Caroline Lowe, daughter of a New Ipswich cigar maker who lived on Main Street was a teacher in the Newton school system, as were Ellen Tewksbury, who summered in the Clark Obear House and Madeline Thurston, who spent her summers in the Cragin House. Miss Palmer, also a teacher, built a small cottage on Main Street in 1896 after spending several seasons summering with another teacher, Mrs. Spofford, at her house. Elsie Hobson, who resided in the Bucknam House, was the principal of Concord Academy, outside Boston. Miss Hopkins, a buyer for Jordan Marsh and Company, summered at the Stearns-Cummings House on Main Street. Members of the Barr family occupied five houses along Main Street and overlooking Appleton Common. The Barrett family retained the family mansion and the adjacent Charles Barrett, Sr. House for summer use by the family members. The Gould sisters were the nieces of one of the authors of New Ipswich's 1852 town history, published by their father's Boston publishing house; they lived in the family homestead. One of the few summer residents that came from beyond Boston was J.W. Phillips, the city engineer for Philadelphia, who lived at the top of Porter Hill Road. Henry Champney was a New York medicine manufacturer who returned to his native town each summer. His house on Porter Hill Road was the first to have an artesian well, and the paved paths he installed in the gardens were a source of interest in a town that lacked any paved roads. Philip Gordon, a former merchant in Windsor, Vermont and Gardner, Massachusetts, owned the Farwell-Spaulding House.
Only a small number of the houses were remodeled by their new owners and those changes were generally limited to front porches. The most noticeable evidence of the summer visitor period is in the extensive gardens and some of the village "improvements" undertaken. Perennial gardens are still visible at the Batchelder-Champney House, the Abel Shattuck House, and the Barr Houses. The lengthy riverstone wall in front of James Barr's House dates from this era as well. In the Barrett meadow across the street from the mansion house were croquet lawns and a tennis court. A private tennis court was located between Porter Hill Road and Old Country Road. A sidewalk, a raised dirt path with a wooden railing supported by iron posts, extended along Main Street as far as the Congregational Church. Portions of it are still visible, particularly near the Barrett Mansion.
Although the bulk of the summer residents purchased existing late-18th and early-19th century houses, several constructed seasonal houses in the village. The Samuel Tarbell Ames family erected the most elegant summer house in the New Ipswich Center Village Historic District, a gracious, gambrel-roofed Colonial Revival house, across from Appleton Academy. Ames' son was the dean of Harvard Law School and a grandson of Dr. James Barr. To the east, C.S. Brown built a new house on the foundation of the former Judge Farrar House. Two simpler summer cottages were built near the First Congregational Church (Albert P. Norris House on Willard Road and the Palmer-Howard House on Main Street). Myron Taylor, a native son and the real estate manager for the Boston and Maine Railroad, erected his house just a few houses south of his father's house.
The New Ipswich Library building, completed in 1895, also dates from this era. Monies for the construction of the building were solicited by a group of local women, under the leadership of Miss Caroline Frances Barr.
The end of the summer visitor period marked the end of the New Ipswich Center Village Historic District's period of significance. Although the New Ipswich Center Village Historic District has experienced growth and change after the Second World War up to the present time, its architectural and historic character are still evident.
The Appleton Academy Almanac and New Ipswich Directory, 1858.
Bachelder, Nahum J., Lakes and Summer Resorts in New Hampshire. Concord, N.H.: State of New Hampshire, 1891, 1892.
Bouve, Pauline Carrington, "New Ipswich in New Hampshire." In New England Magazine, v. 22, no.1, pp 97-112 (March 1900).
Chandler, Charles Henry with Sarah Fiske Lee, The History of New Ipswich, New Hampshire 1735-1914. Fitchburg, Ma.: Sentinel Printing Co., 1914.
Comstock, Helen, "The Barrett House in New Ipswich, NH." In Antiques, v.77, no.5, pp476-481 (1960).
Fineberg, Ellen, "Barrett House, New Ipswich, New Hampshire." In Antiques, March 1986, pp645-647.
Fisher, Albert G., Manuscript Diary of Civil War Service for the year 1863, Collection of the New Ipswich Historical Society.
Garvin, Donna-Belle and James L., On the Road North of Boston; New Hampshire Taverns and Turnpikes, 1700-1900. Concord, N.H. New Hampshire Historical Society, 1988.
Hillsborough County, New Hampshire Registry of Deeds.
Hollis, Helen Rice, "Jonas Chickering, The Father of American Pianoforte-making." In Antiques, August 1975, pp227-230.
Kidder, Frederic and Gould, Augustus A., The History of New Ipswich From 1736-1852. Boston, Gould & Lincoln, 1852.
Lee, Rev. Samuel, "A Historic Discourse Delivered at the Centennial Celebration of First Congregational Church in New Ipswich," Oct. 22, 1860.
"New Hampshire as a Summer Resort." Special Report by State Bureau of Labor, 1905.
New Ipswich Historical Society Minutes of Meetings.
New Ipswich Historical Society Scrapbooks.
Obear, Mrs. C.H. (L.A.), Records and Reminiscences of New Ipswich Children's Fair from 1862 to 1911. Worcester, Ma. Press of Lucius P. Goddard, 1911.
Smith, Marjorie Whalen, "The Barrett Mansion." In New Hampshire Profiles, v.13, n.8, pp34-39 (August 1974).
Souvenir of New Ipswich, New Hampshire and New Ipswich Appleton Academy. undated (Circa 1904).
Tolles, Bryant F., Jr., New Hampshire Architecture; An Illustrated Guide. Hanover, N.H., University Press of New England, 1979.
Town of New Ipswich Annual School Reports.
Town of New Ipswich Assessors' Records.
The Townsman, April 4, 1907.
Tourist's Guidebook to State of New Hampshire, 1902.
United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service National Register of Historic Places Nomination, New Ipswich Academy or Town Hall, 1984.
Walker, Charles, "A Sketch of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, Civil, Literary and Ecclesiastical." In Collections of New Hampshire Historical Society, v.5, pp157-175 (1837).
Wood, Rev. Sumner, "Our Story of New Ipswich" (account of pastorate, 1880-83).
New Ipswich Historical Society Printed Booklets
Balch, Hazel E. —
Lee, Sarah Fiske, What Women Have Done in New Ipswich. In Number 4, read at a Historical Society Meeting on May 23, 1919, undated and unpaged.
Phelps, Abbie L. —
Preston, Katherine, Old Houses and Sites of New Ipswich. Number 1, written in 1915, published Milford, N.H., The Cabinet Press, 1936, pp.7-20.
New Ipswich Historical Society Bound Papers —
Moore, Hazel B. —
Preston, John, The Turnpike Road — Fortune or Folly. Number 33, 1987.
Thayer, Ann V., Biography of the New Ipswich, New Hampshire Library. Number 13, 1978.
Thomas, Edmund B., Jr., The New Ipswich Town Pound. Number 12, 1976.
Van Valkenburgh, James, Charles Barrett Sr. — His Life and Times. Number 28, 1989.
Information from Village Improvement Society Questionnaires —
Chandler, Charles Henry with Sarah Fiske Lee, The History of New Ipswich, New Hampshire 1735-1914. Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Sentinel Printing Co., 1914.
Hillsboro County, New Hampshire, from actual surveys by J. Chace, Jr., Smith, Mason & Co., Boston and Philadelphia, 1858.
Kidder, Frederic and Gould, Augustus A., The History of New Ipswich From 1736-1852. Boston, Gould & Lincoln, 1852.
New Ipswich, Town of. Tax Maps.
Town and County Atlas of the State of New Hampshire. Boston, D.H. Kurd & Co. 1892.
New Ipswich Historical Society, New Ipswich, New Hampshire --
Albree, Marjorie Interview with Patricia Hoffman, August 1990.
Archambault, Wendy Interview with Patricia Hoffman, November 1990.
Ave-Lallemant, Eleanor Norris Interview with Patricia Hoffman, August 1990.
Bunch, Karen Interview with Patricia Hoffman, August 1990.
Cotzin, Hazel Interview with Patricia Hoffman, December 1990.
Currier, Albert William Interviews with Patricia Hoffman, July-October 1990.
Durfee, Sylvia Taylor —
Dailey, Richard and Joan Interview with Patricia Hoffman, October 1990.
Dye, Mary Willa Interview with Patricia Hoffman, October 1990.
Glavey, Estelle Interview with Patricia Hoffman, July 1990.
Hanselman, Gregory L. Interview with Patricia Hoffman, July 1990.
Hardy, Lilly Interview with Patricia Hoffman, October 1990.
Howard, Ambrose Interview with Patricia Hoffman, August 1990.
Howard, Edward and Mary Interview with Patricia Hoffman, October 1990.
Legsdin, Marian Interview with Patricia Hoffman, October 1990.
Lyford, Harry Interview with Patricia Hoffman, October 1990.
MacCallum, Alexander D. Interview with Patricia Hoffman, October 1990.
Manwiller, Margaret Interviews with Patricia Hoffman, July, October 1990.
Moore, Hazel Balch —
Ober, Nathaniel Interview with Patricia Hoffman, August 1990.
Preston, John Interviews with Elizabeth D. Hengen, May, July 1989.
Riley, Kathryn and Richard Interview with Patricia Hoffman, October 1990.
Short, Leonard Interview with Patricia Hoffman, November 1990.
Suokko, Arnold and Leanette Interview with Patricia Hoffman, November 1990.
Thompson, Pearl Interviews with Patricia Hoffman, June- August 1990.
Thorns, Elizabeth Interview with Patricia Hoffman, July 1990.
Thorns, William Interview with Patricia Hoffman, November 1990.
Tripp, Alice Wardwell Interviews with Patricia Hoffman, July, October 1990.
Van Valkenburgh, James and Margaret Interview with Patricia Hoffman, November 1990.
† Elizabeth Hagen and Christine Fonda, Village Improvement Society of New Ipswich, New Ipswich Center Village Historic District, New Ipswich, NH, nomination document, 1991, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.