Chesterfield NH Historical Society
Chesterfield NH Historical Society

Summer 2021

We introduced a new era of Spinnings - On-line newsletter with downloadable PDF was sent out to our membershiop via e-mail.  Those without e-mail or who requested it, are mailed a "hard copy". 

Stone House Tavern Museum Update

 

In December 2019, the Chesterfield Historical Society (CHS) received a $95,000 grant award from the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) to support the restoration of the Stone House Tavern Museum (SHTM). In March 2020, as bids were being sought, COVID began. For the past 16 months the project team has pushed forward to secure the building from the elements and complete the project in the two-year time period designated by LCHIP. Chimneys have been replaced with bricks/mortar appropriate for the time period, the slate roof was repaired, the stonework repointed and repaired as needed, the exterior doors/windows have been restored and repainted, new basement stairs were constructed, and this spring the wooden gables and exterior trim were repaired and painted. It has been a long journey, but Phase 1 is complete!

 

Phase 2 began in June with the submission of a 2021 LCHIP grant application for $147,000 and a supporting grant application to More Than a Thrift Store. Phase 1 addressed the structural integrity of the building, safety, and preservation. In Phase 2 CHS will continue historic preservation/reconstruction of the interior to bring the building up to code with a goal of opening the SHTM in 2023/24. Work will include mandated and modernization work required by the building and fire codes to open the museum to the public and to reconfigure access to the attached rental apartments. What was originally described in the historic resource report as a two-phase project is, due to escalating construction costs, now a three-phase project.

 

More particularly, Phase 2 work will include the curtain drain, resetting entrance stones after excavation, electrical upgrades, separation of apt.1 (including enlarging the ADA museum entrance doorway and renovation of porch), emergency egress from the second floor, and structural work for ADA and staff bathrooms. Professionals needed will include an architect, archaeologist, and possibly an engineer. Phase 3 will address needs after opening: finishing bathrooms, ADA compliance for first floor, and painting/cosmetic work as needed.

 

The upstairs apartment received an update over the last six weeks after the previous longtime renter moved (and will have a new renter beginning July 1). As was done with downstairs apartment last year, there was deep cleaning, painting, plumbing repair, window repair and construction of a new wall. Thank you to the volunteers and to Jim Hamlin (plumbing) for coming to our rescue. The apartment was reconfigured to a one bedroom and the additional space reclaimed to become storage for the SHTM.

Our Pandemic

 

Plagues have caused havoc throughout history. Most think of the Black Death and the American plagues brought by Europeans that ravished the indigenous people throughout the “New World”. We read about Polio, Spanish Flu, Aids but for some reason, we don’t realize we have joined our predecessors in enduring these unseen forces. Although we have more modern methods and advances in science to help us, we are still adjusting to it in our own unique way. The CHS would like to record some of your experiences and/or coping mechanisms in this unusual time.   Young and old alike, are welcomed to submit a personal “Bit of History”.  Either snail mail, e-mail or contact us to see when you can personally drop it off. We look forward to compiling them for posterity.

Bits of History

 

With the pandemic closing the Chesterfield Historical Society (CHS), a wealth of information was sequestered. So, CHS instituted our Bits of History program to help us stay in touch with our membership. From Thanksgiving to Flag Day, CHS sent informational e-mails (using Constant Contact) ranging in theme from what was really served at the 1621 Thanksgiving feast to remembering Chesterfield’s Fallen Heroes. We have used Constant Contact to promote our programs too.  The “Bits of History” pieces complied by Donna Roscoe have received positive feedback. CHS plans to continue these posts even after our doors open again. If you have topic ideas, contact us. (If you did not receive these, check your Spam folder.)

Volunteer Corner

 

Scott and Judith Conant

 

Scott and Judith now spend half the year in Idaho and the other half in New Hampshire. Originally from Massachusetts, they returned to New England three years ago. After living in Coeur d’Alene Idaho for 26 years, they found a wonderful community here in Chesterfield… and a warm and welcoming neighborhood at the Gateway Preserve.

 
With a love of New England history and a desire to learn more about Chesterfield, they volunteered at the Chesterfield Historical Society (CHS). They feel fortunate in the relationships they have made with other CHS volunteers, and we feel the same about them! 

 

Scott has enjoyed the opportunity to log onto the computer to locate articles concerning Chesterfield from Keene and Brattleboro publications. Judith has been involved in organizing and cataloging materials. Some days her work is related to the landownership of former residents. She has also worked on area and property maps and has updated family histories. They are enjoying the summer in Idaho but look forward to continuing their involvement with CHS in the fall.

 

Donations/History Recorded

 

Even a pandemic can’t keep our wonderful donors from providing us with artifacts and transcribed history. CHS can’t accept much right now because of limited storage space, but we couldn’t pass up these treasures: (1) former CHS director, Susan Tracy, interviewed resident Joe Cullum about his recollections of Camp Notre Dame while the camp was owned by his uncle, Jack Cullum from 1938-1989; (2) map cabinets and maps from surveyor David Mann; (3) the Old Spofford Post Office window and postal boxes from Pam Campbell Hoyt; (4) clothing and milking equipment from Pat Porter; and (5) various Tazwell family collectibles discovered unexpectedly by Russ Stephens when cleaning out a garage. Additional information about noted writer and actor Charles Tazwell and his wife Louise can be found on the CHS website under “Notable Chesterfield Citizens”.

Ice Out Lottery Results

 

Thanks to all who participated in the first ever Spofford Lake Association Ice Out Lottery. The event was a 50/50 lottery, and 177 tickets were sold through their website. Four people picked the winning ice out date of March 29, so as the rules dictated, a single winner was then selected in a random drawing by the Ice Out Committee. The single winner was awarded 50% of the profits and the three others received SLA-2021 Ice Out Winner sweatshirts.

 

SLA generously divided their 50% of the winnings with the Chesterfield Historical Society. The winnings ($400) will be used as matching funds for Phase II of the Stone House Tavern Museum construction! After all, the Stone House Tavern Museum will house an extensive collection of Spofford Lake memorabilia in its Lake Room.

Levi Mead Family Visit

 

Don and Nancy Daniels, of Kansas, visited CHS in June to research Don’s family history. Don is a direct descendant of Levi Mead, who brought his family to Chesterfield from Lexington, MA in 1800. Levi was a Revolutionary War veteran who served as a young “powder-horn bearer” at Lexington and Concord. He served throughout the war, ultimately earning the honorary title of Captain. He subsequently opened the “Mead Tavern” on Main Street in Chesterfield Center. The building eventually became the Chesterfield Hotel which was destroyed by fire in 1921. Also, he was the grandfather of Chesterfield born sculptor, Larkin Goldsmith Mead.  Don’s ancestral line is tied to Levi’s son, Marshall S. Mead (1802 – 1883), who was educated at Chesterfield Academy, and apprenticed with Chesterfield’s Dr. Hall before studying medicine at Dartmouth. In 1828, Marshall set up practice in Northfield, MA. During the Daniels’ visit, they, along with their guide Donna Roscoe, toured the Mead/Converse Burial Ground in Chesterfield and then explored Dr. Mead’s house and family grave sites in Northfield. The tour ended visiting Larkin G. Mead’s works, a copy of the Recording Angel at the Brattleboro Library and the Fisk Memorial in Brattleboro's Morningside Cemetery. It was a pleasant day, bringing Chesterfield’s past to the tangible present.

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2021 Humanities to Go Programs

 

This spring’s two on-line Humanities to Go programs drew large audiences. Steve Taylor’s One Room Rural Schools, the Romance and Reality inspired Donna Roscoe to research Chesterfield’s educational history. Firsthand accounts from students and teachers can be found in two of CHS’s “Bits of History”. June’s 12,000 Years in the Granite State, presented by Robert Goodby, described the first human inhabitants of the region. On September 9th, CHS will present 300 years of Agriculture in the Monadnock Region by Alan Rumrill, executive director of the Historical Society of Cheshire County. More information will be posted soon on our website under Events.

 

New Feature on the Website

 

Some early maps demonstrating the growth of Chesterfield have been added to our website. They cover from 1745 - 1906. Also, there are special maps of Spofford, Chesterfield Center, Lake Spofford, and West Chesterfield.  Visit Maps

Spofford Lake Tourism Began at the Stone House

 

Today people from all over New England think nothing of driving to Spofford Lake to enjoy hiking nearby trails, snowmobiling and water activities with friends, but tourism is nothing new to the area.

 

It began in the 19th century, and was a major undertaking by stagecoach or train, not a day excursion. Seeing the future, Ezekiel P. Pierce constructed a granite building in 1831 near the Lake as a stagecoach stop where travelers could rest and find a meal.  He named his structure the Lake House (known today as the Stone House Tavern Museum) and operated it as a temperance establishment.  And so, tourism and the draw of Spofford Lake began. 

 

It is estimated that the original boat launch was in the southwest side corner of the Lake, somewhere between the present-day Starbuck and Copeland homes.  In 1857, Pierce built a sailboat that was used to tour the Lake. Soon other sailboats arrived, and it was off to the races, with advertising posters as early as the 1850s promoting sailing adventures.  A 9-hole golf course was then built between the Tavern and the Lake, with the first hole being located near today’s Linfield Lane.

 

By the late 1800s, Spofford Lake became an attractive place for the well-to-do to spend leisure time. Advertisements in New England newspapers were common, and tourism flourished. With its scenic grandeur, clear water and sandy bottom, abundant fish, horseback riding, trails to hike, and numerous aquatic diversions, Spofford Lake lured vacationers from Boston, New York, and Albany. They came by stagecoach, train, and car and stayed for a week, a month, or the whole season. Some built their own homes after having vacationed at a lake lodge. The Prospect House was built in 1873 on the hill overlooking the present boat launch and operated until it burned about 1895. In the area of the present Camp Spofford was the Lakeside Inn, and the Lake View Hotel stood where the Cottages at Spofford Lake are now. In fact, there were two Lake View Hotels noted on the 1892 map. The second one was in the Silverdale area and included structures on Pierce Island.  In 1895 that hotel was renovated and renamed the Silverdale Hotel. At the same time on the east side of the Lake, Woodside Cottages was run by J.H. Stearns, who tore down the structures in 1896 and erected the Pine Grove Springs Hotel (later the Lake Spofford Hotel).  Pine Grove Springs and the Silverdale Hotel were large resorts accommodating up to 250 guests.

 

The Silverdale Hotel was sold in 1919 to Richard Averill, who used the lumber to build several summer cottages along the shore. In a couple of those present-day Silverdale cottages, you can still see the faded room numbers on the doors! The Pine Grove Springs Hotel remained open under different names well into the twentieth century.

 

The hotels, taverns, inns, tea rooms and golf links offered something for everyone and the establishments prided themselves on reasonable rates. Believe it or not, summer vacationers in the 1950s at the Spofford House could secure accommodations (American Plan) for $4.00 a day.  The winter rate was a mere $3.00 a day.

 

In the 1930s-40s, Ware’s Grove hosted big bands, including Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra. A 1935 ad noted that Ware’s Grove offered amusements, beach, ballroom, boats, cottages, and restaurants. Lodging options for the summer traveler who wished to enjoy the Lake were numerous into the 1960s.

In 1961, the Lake Spofford Hotel, then a thriving hotel restricted to individuals of the Jewish faith, burned. After the owner, Abe Jacobson, was denied a permit to rebuild, he sold the property. The remaining newer wing opened as the Lake Spofford Motel but closed permanently a few years later after having been renamed Johnson’s on the Lake. 

 

Names of the lodgings in the 50s and 60s in Chesterfield included: Near Lake Inn (condos today), The Pillars, Westview, Sally Lunn Tea Room, The Villa Tea Room, San ‘N Sno Motor Lodge, Shamrock Ranch Cabins, Riverside Cabins, Spofford House, Cottages and Tents- Ware’s Grove Resort, Lake Spofford Cabins, Brookhaven Cabins, Snow White Cabins, Tower Light Inn and Motel, Spofford Motel, Erbhof, The Maples, Sherman’s Country Store and Motel, and the Chesterfield Inn (not the present-day establishment).

 

The last overnight lodging establishment on the Lake, The Old New England Village, closed its doors in 2016. Those cabins became the Cottages at Spofford Lake, which are now individually owned. Today, the Lake hosts Camp Spofford, owned by the Evangelical Free Church, North Shore town beach for Chesterfield residents, Ware’s Grove beach (for anyone and everyone), and numerous cottages available for rent…but no more overnight lodging resorts. Nearby there is the Chesterfield Inn, an upscale bed and breakfast, with fine country dining open to the public. A variety of wildlife still call beautiful Spofford Lake home, with eagles and loons successfully producing

 

Many thanks to Marty Potter for her book: Spofford Lake, A Retrospective of Her Cottages, Camps, & Resorts. Some historical photos of the above-mentioned facilities can be found on our website: Historical Pictures.

Membership Information

 

For those wishing to become a member or renew their membership, membership information can be found on our website along with the mail in form. Unfortunately, we presently cannot accept credit cards or internet payme

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