2018-08-20: Community buildings in many forms added to NH State Register of Historic Places2018-12-18T15:16:58-05:00


Shelly Angers, N.H. Department of Natural & Cultural Resources
Twitter: @NHDNCR

Community buildings in many forms added to NH State Register of Historic Places

The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources is pleased to announce that the State Historical Resources Council has added ten properties – including several that were built in response to the Toleration Act of 1819 – to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places.

The State Register has helped to promote the significance of many historic properties across New Hampshire. Benefits of being listed on the State Register include:

  • Acknowledgment of a property’s historical significance in the community;
  • Special consideration and relief from some building codes and regulations; and
  • Designation of a property as historical, which is a pre-qualification for many grant programs, including Conservation License Plate grants and New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) grants.

New Hampshire’s Toleration Act of 1819 required the separation of church and state. Prior to its passage, town buildings were often shared spaces for both government and religious activities. In response to the new law, New Hampshire experienced a construction boom for both types of buildings in the years that followed.

Dalton Town Hall was completed in 1845. A one-story timber framed Greek Revival building that had a porch added in the early 1930s, it has also served the community as a high school, public library and meeting space for the Riverside Grange, the Dalton Historical Society, the Ladies Aid Society and the Friends of the Dalton Town Hall.

Built in 1848, Mason Town Hall is a well-preserved example of the Greek Revival style. The one and a half story building’s symmetrical gable front is distinguished both by its full cornice return and flat pilasters flanking the center entry. Inside, the main hall has a wide stage with a simple proscenium arch. The site of high school graduation ceremonies from 1924 to 1969, it continues to be used for town and social functions.

Tamworth Town Hall served the needs of both the town’s Congregationalists and government needs from the mid-1790s to the early 1850s, when church members built an independent building across the road. It retains its 1794 timber frame, original pulpit window and gallery columns, but a major renovation ca. 1852 added Greek Revival elements, including new trim, windows and a main entrance on the gable end.

An example of the many churches built as a result of the Toleration Act of 1819, Stoddard Congregational Church was completed in 1836. Its two-stage tower with corner pinnacles at the top of the belfry, large double-leaf doors with pointed arches that flank a large pointed-arch window, and triangular vent in the pediment are all details from the Gothic Revival style.

The following were also recently added to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places:

Built in 1894 in an era when New Hampshire school districts were consolidating buildings, Belmont’s Gale School reflects both the Stick Style and Queen Anne styles that were popular in the late 19th century. It is named after banker Napoleon Bonaparte Gale, a native of Belmont whose donation helped complete the building project.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court in Concord is a symmetrical Georgian Colonial Revival building with a steel and concrete block frame and brick exterior. The interior features green and white marble floors and baseboards, wainscoting and a beamed ceiling in the lobby. The building’s traditional design contrasts with the more contemporary styled state and federal buildings constructed in Concord in the 1960s.

Dedicated in 1867, the First Christian Church in Freedom was built for $3,000, funds raised by selling church pews for $50 each. Greek Revival in style, its square tower and belfry, topped by a cylindrical spire, hold the bell donated by Elias Towle, who originally gave it to the Calvin Baptist Society but later gave it to First Christian when he changed congregations – a move that became a New Hampshire Supreme Court case.

One of a number of buildings associated with the arrival of the railroad in Lee in 1874, South Lee Freight Depot is one of the few that remain. While some alterations have been made to it, it still clearly represents a freight depot from its era and is significant as one of the early historic preservation efforts in Lee.

Stratton Free Library in Swanzey was both funded and designed by George William Stratton, a musical instrument salesman, musician and composer who wrote operas and operettas. The 1885 brick Romanesque Revival building, with decorative brickwork, arched portico entryway, round-arch window and door openings, was designed to be both a library and gallery, services it continues to provide today.

Constructed as the town’s first town hall, Wentworth Town Hall has been used for town meetings, elementary school graduations, town plays, roller skating gatherings and other community events since it was built in 1899. The two and a half story wood frame building’s exterior combines clapboards and decorative wood shingles, a look borrowed from the Queen Anne style.

Anyone wishing to nominate a property to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places must research the history of the nominated property and document it on an individual inventory form from the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources. Having a property listed in the Register does not impose restrictions on property owners. For more information, visit nh.gov/nhdhr.

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.