Sunapee Historical Society plans a “walk back in time”

The Sunapee Historic Society will follow-up its 2010 history walk along Lower Main Street with another “walk back in time.” This year the scene is Central Street in Sunapee.

Lots of interesting people lived on Central Street, according to Barbara Chalmers, Sunapee, a researcher for the event.

On the day of the event, July 28 (9 a.m. to noon), volunteers stationed street-side along the tour will assume the persona of people from Sunapee’s past… people with a connection to Central Street.

Outfitted in costume and versed from prepared scripts, the actors will relate their character’s personal history as well as town history.

The cast of characters will include: George Bartlett, founder of U.S. Hames Company; his son Ernest Bartlett, who built Indian Cave Lodge; Henry Goss, the town undertaker; Dr. Edwin Fisher, the town doctor;  Marcia Runals, talking about her father Albert Runals, who built the Runals House Hotel in the Harbor (predecessor to the Ben Mere Inn); Albert Stocker, builder of many homes, cottages and buildings in town; and John Young, an itinerant preacher with the leather tannery on the river. A supporting cast will add to the feel of Central Street circa 1900-1910.

The historical society will sell tickets for the tour.

The organizing committee meets at the historical society museum at Sunapee Harbor and invites participation.

For more information, contact Ron Garceau (

Sunapee Sighting: Remembrance of our WWI soldiers

May 28, 2012 – Photos courtesy of Charlotte Carlson, Sunapee: A memorial stone on the lawn at Abbott Library, Route 11, Sunapee, remembers our World War I soldiers. Read the “honor roll” by scrolling down and clicking on the image.

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Sunapee Sighting: World War II Memorial

The town’s lakefront park at Sunapee Harbor is where you will find the World War II memorial highlighted in our previous Sunapee Sighting.

Charotte Carlson, Sunapee, shares this photo of the decorated memorial on the edge of the public green.




To suggest or send a Sunapee Sighting or to help with research, please contact Sunapee News. Or send a message via Facebook:

Sunapee Historical Society: Spring Meeting is May 9

What’s on the Sunapee Historical Society calendar for May (2012)?

  • Wednesday, May 9, 7 p.m., at the Sunapee Community Methodist Church.  Spring meeting and program:  The Life and Times of William Cant Sturoc, Sunapee lawyer, politician, farmer, and poet. Presented by Bev Cutts and Ron Garceau with readings from Sturoc’s diary, photos and more. All welcome. Refreshments.
  • Saturday, May 19, from 10 to noon, at the historical society museum at Sunapee Harbor. Clean Up Day.
  • Sunday, May 27, from 2 to 4 p.m., at the museum.  A book signing with Paul Rheingold, author of the recently published postcard history book, “Lake Sunapee.”

For more info and current SHS newsletter, visit: Sunapee Historical Society.

And to view/download the 2012 guide for “Then and Now – History Around Lake Sunapee” from Partners Around Lake Sunapee click on Pals Map and Brochure 2012 (Note the file size: PDF 2.5 MB).

N.H. and the Civil War: The homefront

As part of New Hampshire’s “May is Preservation Month” observation, the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources is publishing a series of articles exploring the Granite State’s involvement in the Civil War. Throughout the month, Sunapee News will post article highlights with links and images.

This week, the focus is on both the growth of industry and social reform: The Homefront

Part of the mill complex in Harrisville today, listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1977. From the collection of the NH Division of Historical Resources, Concord.

By the mid-1800s, manufacturing was already a growing presence in New Hampshire’s towns and cities.

During the Civil War, mills increased production of woolen blankets and clothing and other war supplies as demand on the front lines rose.

More workers went to work at the mills, turning villages into towns and towns into cities. As a result of this increased production, the state’s rural populations were dramatically reduced, forever changing the landscape.

Read about Harrisville, a village whose existence has always been tied to the ups, downs, and history of the woolen industry, and how it benefited from the war’s demand for woolen cloth.

Social Reform

A wide variety of social reforms – most notably the anti-slavery movement – swept both the state and the nation during this time.

The Hutchinson Family Singers, part of a family of sixteen children from Milford, began giving concerts in the 1840s. By the 1860s, their songs about abolition, temperance and women’s rights were known throughout the country. Even today, they are considered an important influence both musically and socially.

>>For more about the state’s industry growth and social reforms during the Civil War, visit NH-DHR: May is Preservation Month.

>> For N.H. Civil War Calendars and Databases, visit the division’s page: N.H. Civil War

The N.H. Division of Historical Resources, the “State Historic Preservation Office,” was established in 1974. The historical, archeological, architectural, engineering and cultural resources of New Hampshire are among the most important environmental assets of the state. Historic preservation promotes the use, understanding and conservation of such resources for the education, inspiration, pleasure and enrichment of New Hampshire’s citizens. For more information, visit or by calling (603) 271-3483.

Coming up: The Life & Times of Herbert Welsh

The walking crusader Herbert Welsh (1851-1941). Image from his book The New Gentleman of the Road, which chronicled his 450-mile treks from Philadelphia to Sunapee.

Sunapee Historical Society

Presents a Cracker Barrel Talk

The Life & Times of

Herbert Welsh

Sunapee Artist, Humanitarian, Indian Rights Activist & Father of Mount Sunapee’s Public Lands

Thursday, July 21, 2011 – 7 PM
Sunapee Historical Society Museum, Sunapee Harbor

Presentation by Barbara Chalmers
Part of Friends of Mount Sunapee
“Mount Sunapee: Welsh Centennial Celebration”

Program is open to the public free of charge. All invited to attend.

Related info…

Lost Ski Areas of SooNipi Country

Click on the image for a PDF of the entire article.

As New England ski areas gear up for what they hope to be a busy holiday season, there are others less fortunate. Recent articles have lamented the loss of ski areas in New Hampshire and Vermont, and they often reference the New England Lost Ski Areas Project.

So, what about lost ski areas in the Sunapee area?

Lost Ski Areas of SooNipi Country, an article by John Warren, was published by Soonipi Magazine in the winter of 2007-2008. It also referenced  NELSAP and its website.

With permission from Ron Garceau, publisher of the Soonipi, here it is. Just click on the image or SooNipi Winter 2007-08 P.46-49 (PDF 197 KB).

Sunapee’s Ski Tow Hill

Unlike many lost ski areas that are sold off for private development, Ski Tow Hill on Route 103B in Sunapee is now public property, owned by the town, and has been officially named Harry Tilton Park. It continues to serve the interest of outdoor enthusiasts offering open-space, forest land and recreation. A new play area, the Lynne Peirce Memorial Playground, opened in 2010, and the town rec department is considering other features for the site.

Rope tow is gone and XC is alive at Dexter’s

At Dexter’s Inn on Stagecoach Road, Sunapee, where there once was a rope tow,  cross-country is alive. The inn offers a network of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails that crisscross the 20 acre property. The ski center is managed by the folks from Norsk who built and maintain the trails and give lessons, said innkeeper John Augustine. This year, Dexter’s is adding night snowshoeing (with headlamps) and horse-drawn sleigh rides. And with more snow, some 6 to 12 inches, the ski center can open.

Continue reading

Newport Historical Society: “Wild Goose Waters From Above”

Fly back in time and see Lake Sunapee as few have seen it. The Newport Historical Society will present a slide show, photo selections from Wild Goose Waters From Above, with Babe Sargent and Ron Garceau on Monday, Nov. 8th at 7 pm at the Sugar River Community Room, at the rear of 10 N. Main Street, Newport.

From a Piper Clipper in 1949 and 1950, John A. Sargent and his son John W. “Babe” Sargent used a surplus military camera to take hundreds of aerial photographs around Lake Sunapee. In 2009, SooNipi Publishing released a coffee table book with over 200 of these amazing black and white images. Guests will be able to learn about the project. Signed books will be available.

Sunapee Historical Society Raffles Painting Oct. 27

The  Sunapee Historical Society, at its fall meeting October 27, will choose the lucky winner of  an oil painting by Barbara Chalmers, Sunapee. The view is of Lower Main Street from yesteryear.

Chalmers worked on this painting during the society’s Main Street Walk in July and donated it to the SHS for a fund-raising raffle. (See photo below.)

One can still purchase raffle tickets ($5 each or five for $20), by contacting the Sunapee Historical Society, PO Box 501, Sunapee, NH 03782 or Ron Garceau at SooNipi Publishing at 9 Central Street.

“Originally I got involved just to research a character,” Barbara wrote to Sunapee News.  “I did Rev. H J Foote, Sunapee’s Methodist Minister from 1906-1911 and wrote his script.”

“But as plans for the event were coming together, Ron Garceau asked for volunteers to dress up in period costume – he suggested folks strolling on the street and possibly someone painting the landscape…… so I volunteered for that.”

“It was a lot of fun and I hope the Historical Society does it again next year.”

The  fall meeting will be held at the Sunapee Community Methodist Church starting at 7 p.m. The program will be Scenes from the Magic Lantern.


Dressed as a plein air artist in Sunapee's Main Street Walk, Barbara Chalmers was the “guide” for Kevin Rickard who portrayed Enos Clough, the inventor of the Fairy Queen steam powered wagon, and she played Enos’s neighbor Arabella Sargent. Photo by Peggy Chalmers.


Lake Sunapee Landscape by Gifford Sells for $266,500

A small oil painting on canvas titled ”Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire: A Study” by Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880) recently sold at Christie’s New York auction house for $266,500, far higher than the pre-sale estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. The c. 1860-1861 painting was described as initialed and signed by the artist, 6 by 11 inches in size, and likely based on sketches by Gifford completed in August and September 1858.

There is also a larger Gifford painting, 12 x 22 inches, titled “Lake Sinapee” [sic], however, its location is unknown, according to the Christie listing. See sale 2171, lot 83.

Known for realistic, refined depictions of 19th-century American landscapes, Sanford Gifford used light as a technique to convey emotions in a way that made him one of the country’s leading luminists.  His mature style was a balancing of exacting detail of forms with a sense of atmosphere that often sacrificed topographic details. He finished his canvases by using multiple layers of translucent varnish. – AskArt Memorial Day proclamation

…..It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of
JOHN A. LOGAN, Commander-in-Chief
N.P. CHIPMAN, Adjutant General
Official: WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.

Read the Memorial Day proclamation via

Preservation Alliance Offers Barn Survey Workshop


There are still seats left for the Saturday, May 9 “how-to” session on conducting a town-wide barn survey and creating awareness of your community’s agricultural heritage. The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance program will be held at the Bedford Public Library and teach basic architectural styles, preservation issues, and survey techniques. Workshop includes an illustrated lecture and a visit to one of Bedford’s earliest barns. The cost for NHPA members is $15, non-members, $20 or $15 each if two or more attend from the same town. To register, call Beverly at 603-224-2281. For more details visit

Susan B. Anthony: The Invincible at New London Historical Society

Susan B. Anthony worked with Tubman for women'...

Image via Wikipedia

Susan B. Anthony: The Invincible is a one-woman play starring Sally Matson. Using Susan B. Anthony‘s own words–her fiery speeches, humorous letters, and revealing diary entries–Matson has woven together a story filled with wit and emotion that will be presented at the New London Historical Society on March 26.  Coffee and tea will be served at 6:30 p.m. in the Meetinghouse and the program starts at 7 p.m. Admission: $4, NLHS members/$6, non-members. The Underground RR, the Civil War, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, her arrest and trial for voting illegally and countless trips out West are presented in the 45-minute program.

“My Brave Boys” NH History Talk in New London Feb. 12

Authors and editors Mike Pride and Mark Travis will present an evening program sponsored by the New London Historical Society on February 12. It is titled: My Brave Boys: The 5th New Hampshire Volunteers.

Pride and Travis, former editors at the Concord Monitor, authored My Brave Boys, To War with Colonel Cross and the Fighting Fifth.

The program will be held at the NL Historical Society Meetinghouse at 179 Little Sunapee Road (also called Route 114), New London. Time: 7 p.m. Admission: $4 for NLHS members, $6 for non-members.

A lost New Hampshire story comes to life……Two thousand regiments fought in Union armies during the Civil War. None — not one — suffered more deaths in battle than the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers. At the center of this regiment’s searing experience is Colonel Edward Cross, a journalist and adventurer who infused the Fifth with his formidable personality. Concord Monitor editors Mike Pride and Mark Travis spent eight years digging for the story of Cross and his men in letters, diaries, memoirs, official records, and newspaper accounts. The result is a military history unfolded in human terms, as the men themselves experienced it. – University Press of New England

The program is part of Partners Around Lake Sunapee (PALS), a collaborative effort  of six area organizations to showcase the  resources and history of the Lake Sunapee Region. In 2009, PALS will focus on culture, art, education and history in a year-long series of events that have a common theme: Then and Now Around Lake Sunapee.

Participating groups are: The Fells, Lake Sunapee Protective Association, New London Barn Playhouse and the historical societies in Newbury, New London and Sunapee.

Local History: The Runals House at Sunapee Harbor

runals-house-sunapee-harborBefore the gazebo graced the green on the hill overlooking Sunapee Harbor, and before the Ben Mere Inn came and went, Albert Runals and John Y. Gardner built the Runals House in 1877.

The Runals House sat above the harbor and looked across to the boat landing, where the earliest of steamers on Lake Sunapee, the Mountain Maid and Lady Woodsum, would pick up and drop off passengers and goods. As advertised in the “Newport Argus” in 1877: “Sunapee Harbor to Georges Mills 10 passengers or more 25c, Sunapee Harbor to Newbury 25c, around the Lake 50c.”

It was just 15 years later, in 1892, a stock company bought the the Runals House and moved the buildings about and re-built, what was then named the Ben Mere Inn. The hotel had four stories and 100 guestrooms. The Ben Mere was torn down in 1967.

Sources: “A History of Lake Sunapee” by Maureen L. McGrath (from “The Lake Sunapee Area of New Hampshire, 1990″); the “Sunapee, New Hampshire Bicentennial 1768-1968″ and “A History of Sunapee” by Dexter Richards, Insight, Spring 1982. All available at Abbott Library, Sunapee.

Note: Historical references vary on specific dates and the change over from the Runals House to the Ben Mere Inn. More information needed.

Related Articles

Local History: Sunapee – Ben Mere Inn

Panorama of Sunapee Harbor circa 1930 (Sunapee News)


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