Scammon Farm Historic District named to National Register of Historic Places
The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources has announced that the Scammon Farm Historic District in Stratham has been listed to the United States Secretary of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places.
Richard Scammon (1623-1691) came from England with his family first to Boston and then to Portsmouth in 1665, settling in what is now known as Stratham. Across more than 300 years, eight generations of the family owned the historic district property, becoming successful in farming, banking, philanthropy and politics.
Located between the Squampscott River and Portsmouth Avenue – which was called “the King’s Great Highway” when in was laid out in 1681 – Scammon Farm Historic District includes well-preserved nineteenth and twentieth century houses, outbuildings, farmyards, fields and wooded conservation land.
Built in 1812, the two-and-a-half story post-and-beam James Scammon House has a typical two-room-deep center chimney plan that was common into the early 1800s. The parlor retains its original fireplace surround and Federal style woodwork, while the southeast front chamber’s fireplace has a twentieth century Colonial Revival-style surround and mantel.
Two sheds connected to each other date to approximately 1840: one is divided into a workshop, a room with a brick hearth and set kettle, a woodshed and a loft; the other is currently a vehicle shed that was a milk room in the twentieth century.
A gable front bank barn, circa 1860, is one of several Stratham barns with an off-center entry and drive floor. Its full-height basement is characteristic of barns built at the time. The barn could store 45-50 tons of hay while housing two to three horses, four oxen, four milk cows and a dozen other cattle, 15-20 sheep and several swine.
A circa 1910 house was built when the Scammon family transitioned from farming careers and hired a farm manager to live on site. Two-and-a-half stories and two rooms deep, the building has twin stove chimneys and its original ell that connects to a garage built circa 1968.
A contemporary-style house on the property, built circa 1965, reflects the final period of the property’s Scammon family ownership.
Outbuildings within the district include a carriage barn that may have been built as a cider mill and a pump house that covers a well.
A small family burying ground is enclosed by a cast iron fence with decorative posts that were available via catalog at the turn of the twentieth century. The marker for Lydia Scammon, James’ wife who died in 1840, has a swag carving at the top; all others are undecorated.
Farming was the main focus of Stratham’s economy with more than 90 farms operating in the late nineteenth century. Scammon Farm’s more than 150 acres of tilled fields, hayfields, orchard, pasture for oxen, cows and sheep, and unimproved wetland and woodland made it typical of a prosperous New England farm.
An easement conserving almost 90 acres of the district has been owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests since 2007.
Scamman Farm, located across Portsmouth Avenue from the Scammon Farm Historic District, was owned by a separate branch of the family and was named to the National Register in 2019.
Administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of historic resources worthy of preservation and is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archaeological resources.
Listing to the National Register does not impose any new or additional restrictions or limitations on the use of private or non-federal properties. Listings identify historically significant properties and can serve as educational tools and increase heritage tourism opportunities. The rehabilitation of National Register-listed commercial or industrial buildings may qualify for certain federal tax provisions.
In New Hampshire, listing to the National Register makes applicable property owners eligible for grants such as the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program or LCHIP (lchip.org) and the Conservation License Plate Program (nh.gov/nhdhr/grants/moose).
For more information on the National Register program in New Hampshire, please visit nh.gov/nhdhr or contact the Division of Historical Resources at 603-271-3583.
New Hampshire's Division of Historical Resources, the State Historic Preservation Office, was established in 1974 and is part of the N.H. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. NHDHR’s mission is to preserve and celebrate New Hampshire’s irreplaceable historic resources through programs and services that provide education, stewardship, and protection. For more information, visit us online at nh.gov/nhdhr or by calling 603-271-3483.