Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hampton NH Hotel Whittier

By John M. Holman, Contributing Writer

Union House before 1890
The Union House, before 1890 (later called the Hotel Whittier),
looking north along Lafayette Road. Winnacunnet Road heads off to the right.

The HOTEL WHITTIER, a long standing hotel in Hampton, stood at the corner of Winnacunnet Road and Lafayette Road where the SHELL STATION is located in 1998. On that particular site, a public house had been kept continuously from about 1713 when Jonathan Leavitt opened his LEAVITT'S TAVERN until the HOTEL WHITTIER burned to the ground in 1916 and was never rebuilt. Many names have been given to the Hotel throughout the years before it became HOTEL WHITTIER. In 1816 or 1817, a new building was erected and was called JOSIAH DEARBORN'S INN. Mr. Dearborn left it to his eldest son and went into blacksmithing next door, and it was renamed SAMUEL DEARBORN'S INN. Around 1840, Oliver Godfrey and Alfred Batchelder leased the property and named it THE RAIL-ROAD HOUSE, in honor of the Eastern Railroad which was then under construction through Hampton. In 1859 or 1860, a Jared P. Whitcomb bought the hotel, renovated it and opened under the name of THE UNION HOUSE. The original UNION HOUSE guest book can be seen at the Tuck Memorial Museum at 40 Park Avenue in Hampton. In 1890, the UNION HOUSE was renamed HOTEL WHITTIER and was operated successfully under the proprietorship of Otis H. Whittier, until it burned in 1917. The cause of the fire, according to the Town Report for that year, were "rats and matches".

Hotel Whittier in its hey-day. Note trolley rails of the EH&A
in front of Hotel Whittier

A large framed photograph of the HOTEL WHITTIER, as it looked in it hey-day, was given to the Tuck Museum by Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe Palmer. In a small brochure of the HOTEL WHITTIER, dated 1900, the description of the Hotel reads like a modern day public relations release: "HOTEL WHITTIER, that has for forty years, enjoyed the patronage of the best summer resort people, is situated in Hampton, that delightful New Hampshire village whose eastern border is far-famed Hampton Beach, and whose green fields, shady streets and groves are fanned by the cooling sea-breezes. "Hotel Whittier is in the center of the village, two miles from the sea that can be easily reached by walking or by electric car every half-hour. Its table is first class and neatness is a paramount feature of the whole establishment, while the piazzas, lawns and village streets approach to idealistic country rest and beauty. "The rates are reasonable, and that many families return yearly speaks for the standing and satisfaction in which it is held. Billiards, bowling and out-door games make life more pleasant for the young, and the level roads admit of pleasurable wheeling. "The house has a good livery, and long-distance telephone day or night, and with electric car connections with Exeter, Rye, Portsmouth, Rye Beach, N.H. and York Beach, Me., and Newburyport, Amesbury and Haverhill, Mass., & beyond, and a station on the eastern division of the B&M Railroad, and the guest can enjoy a wide country with this as headquarters. Address O.H. Whittier, Hampton, N.H."

Note trolley rails of the in front of Hotel Whittier

A typical Saturday dinner at the Hotel Whittier in August 1901, would consist of the following Bill of Fare: "Vegetable Soup, Salt Fish Dinner, Sliced Cucumbers, and Sliced Tomatoes. Entrees include Roast Leg of Lamb with Mint Sauce, Prime Rib of Beef with Dish Gravy or Roast Veal with Brown Gravy. Banana Fritters with Maple Syrup, Mashed Potatoes, Green Corn and Butter Beans. For dessert, Green Apple Pie, Blueberry Pie, Baked Blueberry Pudding, Peach Ice Cream, Watermelon or Bananas. Tea, Coffee or Milk."

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