Showing posts with label Jane Griswold Radocchia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jane Griswold Radocchia. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Homestead at North Beach, Hampton NH 1830

A Share: an archive of a bi-weekly newspaper column (207 columns in all) written by Jane Griswold Radocchia, for the Lawrence, MA Eagle-Tribune, from 1988-1999. In 1994, the column received a Massachusetts Historic Preservation Award. 
200 years at the beach: House has gone with the flow
This postcard of The Homestead on Hampton’s North Beach seems easy to decipher – a Greek Revival farm house built around 1830, its gable detailed as a pediment, facing the sun and High Street. Its barns to the left, it seems to be a farm that became an inn, as the beach became a tourist destination. Then I talked to the current owners, who are only the fifth family to own the house, and read Joseph Dow’s 1892 book, History of Hampton. They told me that the house was built by John Elkins on the knoll called Nut Island, just off North Beach, around 1800. Moses Leavitt bought it in 1802, just before the birth of the fifth of his twelve children.
The 1806 map of Hampton notes M. Leavitt’s tavern at the edge of the beach, so this house has in fact been a hotel for almost 200 years. That surprised me. I expected farms and fishing shacks at the beach in the early 1800s, but why a hotel? Who stayed here? The answer is that fishermen and fishmongers from Vermont came in the winter, and bought frozen fish to sell back in Vermont and Canada. While they were there, the barn housed their wagons and horses. Leavitt’s tavern had a summer trade as well – houses at the beach are listed as taking summer boarders as early as 1826. Dow’s History calls the Homestead ‘famous’ and notes that it is currently (in 1892) being run by Leavitt’s grandson, Jacob.
Over the years the house has grown from its original one story size. The corner pilasters, the square moldings at the windows and doors, and the tall stately chimneys probably all date from an expansion in the 1830s. Today, the house has balconies all around, and is called The Windjammer. The stone outcropping seen to the left in the postcard is now the edge of the town parking lot.

(aerial photo taken in 1929, and is from the Lane Memorial Library's excellent online archives -ed)

'The Old Red House' 56 Central St., Andover, 1704

A Share by Jane Griswold Radocchia and her blog  

Home of Andover colonists reveal family had little privacy

In 1692, 43 people in Andover were accused of being witches. In Salem, "witches" were killed. 300 years later, it is hard to believe that witchcraft was such a serious crime.
The local historical societies suggested I write about that time, and I liked the idea. But the landscape has become so altered over the last 3 centuries that there is almost nothing to photograph. I decided that perhaps these changes themselves might be a way to see what life had been like. So in the next several articles I'll try to touch on parts of ordinary life in 1692 in the Merrimack Valley.

"The Old Red House" was built in 1704 by John Abbott. Although it was built 12 years after the witch trials, the house shows how a family in those days expected to live. The gable on the right in the drawing is the original house: 2 stories, each floor a 20' x 20' room, with a stair entry and fireplace. As the picture shows, lean-tos and wings were added over the years. But they were not rooms for the family. With doors leading directly outside, and windows for light, not view, they were spaces for food storage, equipment and animals. The family - John Abbott, his wife and children - lived in the original 2 rooms. They had no privacy and did not expect it. This is partly because their lives were full of the labor which was necessary on a farm, but mostly because they had
never known privacy. Our notions today that people need their own spaces would seem very strange to them. In 1858, the house was gutted by fire and then razed.

Circa 1870 castle overlooks mountains of Maine, N.H.

A Share by Jane Griswold Radocchia and and Obit I found in the archives. 

What should sit at the end of a dirt road, on the top of a hill, looking over a lake and off to the mountains of New Hampshire and Maine? A castle, of course!

Dr. James Nichols built the castle in 1873 after a stay in England. He named it 'Winnekenni', after the Algonquin word meaning "very beautiful". This was his summer house, complimented by a boat house down by Lake Kenoza. A chemist and inventor, Dr. Nichols experimented with chemical fertilizer on his fields, below the castle.

Well aware of the endless supply of stone in New England farm land, he thought we should build with it, and he built his castle as an example. It has 4 foot thick foundations, 20 inch deep walls, quoins on the corners, crenelations at the roof, and arches over the windows.

Arches such as these are built over a wood form, and when the last stone - the 'key' stone at the top - is placed, the wood form can be removed. The wedge-shaped stone then locks the whole arch in place: gravity pulls the keystone down; its shape pushes out against the other stones, the wall keeps those stones from moving, and the whole arch stays up.

The Castle isn't really any style, but it borrows the shape of a medieval English fortress, including its battle stations. And an American summer residence is surely a Victorian gesture.

Winnekenni Castle became a part of the Haverhill park system in 1895. The inside was gutted by fire in 1967, and then rebuilt, so the Castle can be used. It is now administered by the Winnekenni Foundation.

OBIT From January 13 1888 Haverhill Bulletin