Smiths Corner Historic District
The Smith's Corner Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. 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 Smith's Corner Historic District located in South Hampton adjoins the East Kingston, New Hampshire town border. The Smith's Corner Historic District includes sites along Main Avenue (Route 107A), South Road, Stagecoach Road, and Chase Road. Area structures date from the Georgian, Federal and Greek Revival periods. The Smith's Corner Historic District scale is residential and wood is the primary construction material. Stylistic distribution within this district includes five Georgian, one Federal, seven Greek Revival, and two Vernacular style dwellings.
The area is named for the Smith family who were prominent in South Hampton's 19th century development. The architectural character of the Smith's Corner Historic District is established by a cluster of four dwellings anchoring the corners of the intersection of Main Avenue and South Road. These dwellings, constructed in the mid-nineteenth century, are in the Greek Revival style and include gable front orientation and sidehall entries.
The density of development found along Smith's Corner proper (intersection of Main Avenue and South Road) reflects the commercial origins of many of its structures. During the mid-nineteenth century the area was noted for its concentration of taverns and associated services trades which supported the stage trade. Representatives of these surviving Greek Revival style structures is the Smith House, historically known as the Central House Tavern (Site 184). Anchoring the northwest corner of the intersection of Main Avenue and South Road, this building includes later Gothic Revival and Italianate style detailing.
Surrounding the Greek Revival period intersection is earlier, less dense, linear development associated with South Hampton's eighteenth and early-nineteenth century agricultural economy. These Georgian and Federal style structures are sited along roads radiating from Smith's Corner proper, and include remnants of agricultural land affording uninterrupted vistas from tree-lined secondary roads,
Early agricultural development in the Smith's Corner Historic District has, to a minor degree, been eroded by contemporary residential infill development. This development has been a consequence of agricultural land subdivision and does not detract from the architectural cohesion or "readability" of the Smith's Corner Historic District as a whole. Serving as a representative example of the first generation, agricultural development is the Moses Eaton House, a Georgian style farmhouse on the west side of Stagecoach Road (c.1750), including intact agricultural outbuildings, open agricultural land and orchard.
The Smith's Corner Historic District is significant for preserving houses dating from South Hampton's early agricultural development (the Moses Eaton House) as well as vistas characteristic of this period; an intact grouping of four Greek Revival houses at Smith's Corners corresponding to the public buildings of this period in the Town Center Historic District. The Smith's Corner Historic District, which retains architectural and site integrity, deserves protection as a visual record of South Hampton's eighteenth and nineteenth century history.
Originating as an early nineteenth century agricultural section, the Smith's Corner Historic District became an important commercial center associated with the stage trade by mid-century. The Greek Revival architectural character is determined by four examples of the style which anchor the intersection of Main Avenue and South Road. Two of these structures, the George Goodwin House (c.1845) and Center House Tavern are documented as operating as taverns during the nineteenth century.
As such, these structures were part of an active commercial tavern trade which flourished in the town. Perry's local history comments on local tavern licensing policies: "Liquor licenses were granted freely and from 1820 to 1828, the town record shows licenses were granted to Richard White, Elihu French, Angeline Brown, Thomas J. Goodwin, Toppan Sargent, Parker Merrill, Joseph Stewart, Dorothy Brown, Richard Carrier and others, as follows: 'The Selectmen of South Hampton do approve of ________ as a person suitably qualified to exercise the business of a tavern and retailer of spirituous liquors at his house and shop. We do therefore grant him full power and license to exercise said business, and to sell rum, wine, gin or other spirits by retail, that is in any quantity less than one pint.'"
Surrounding the Smith's Corner Historic District's cohesive center are earlier, nineteenth century agricultural sites, again documenting the critical historical importance of the sector to the town's economy.
Exemplifying agricultural development in the area is an intact example of a beautifully maintained farm complex, the Moses Eaton House (c.1750) which includes a two-and-one-half story Georgian dwelling, connected barn, detached barn and outbuildings, and remnants of the original orchard.
† National Park Service, Smith's Corner Historic District, South Hampton, NH, nomination document, NRHP #83001149, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.