FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 22, 2020
Shelly Angers, N.H. Department of Natural & Cultural Resources
Langdon Meeting House named to National Register of Historic Places
The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources has announced that the Langdon Meeting House has been honored by the United States Secretary of the Interior with placement on the National Register of Historic Places, for both its architecture and for its association with events important to state and local history.
Built in 1801-1803 in simplified Georgian style, the Langdon Meeting House was originally a single two-story space that served both town and church functions. In order to comply with New Hampshire’s Toleration Act of 1819 – which called for physical and financial separation of religious and government public spaces – in 1851, the town sold ten feet at the west end of the building and the second story gallery space to the Universalist Society of Langdon.
A 1851 renovation partitioned the spaces and added a three-story Greek Revival steeple over the church entrance that included a belfry with louvered shutters and a five-foot weathervane constructed by Langdon resident Lemuel Huntoon. Half of the second-floor’s windows were boarded up and clapboarded over. The remaining windows were enlarged to twelve-over-twelve sashes, several of which still have their 1851 glass.
The building still has many of its 1803 eastern white pine clapboards. The south entrance, which offers access to the town’s portion of the building, has a large double door with original wrought iron strap hinges and is capped with a full pediment.
The meeting house’s first floor was originally a single room filled with box pews; they were removed during the 1851 renovation and replaced by long movable wooden benches, some of which are still used at town meetings and social gatherings.
Langdon citizens have held their annual town meeting on the first floor from 1803 to the present, the longest-running record in the country.
A centered raised stage on the east end of the first floor was most likely installed after the Civil War, when presentations and entertainment became more common at meeting houses.
No longer usable due to current building codes, the nearly untouched second floor is a rare example of an 1851 Universalist Society auditorium. Features include box pews, a raised dais constructed in a reverse pulpit configuration, original brass oil lamps mounted at each end of lectern, original ingrain carpet and a ca. 1908 George P. Bent pedal organ. Tours of the space are offered on special occasions.
The town of Langdon was named after New Hampshire’s second governor, John Langdon. Moved by the honor, he promised to provide a bell for the meeting house if a steeple were added, but he died in 1819 – 32 years before the steeple’s construction – and no bell has ever been installed.
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.