Open House at Harbor House Livery, Sunapee Harbor, Sept. 30

The Harbor House Livery, the historic town building on Main Street, Sunapee Harbor village, will hold an Open House during the Lake Sunapee Chowder Challenge on Sunday, September 30, from noon to 3 p.m.

The public is invited to stop-in, learn about the building’s history and meet members of the Harbor House Livery Committee, a town committee appointed to study and make recommendations for the building’s future.

Located on the edge of the Sugar River, a short distance from the outlet for Lake Sunapee, this well-known regional landmark was built in the late 1880s.

In 2008, it was listed as one of the Seven to Save historic landmarks in New Hampshire and was listed on the N.H. State Register of Historic Places.

“An early photo shows a different looking building with a sign on it that says: M.F. Knowlton Livery and Feed Stable. Just beyond it in the photo is the Sunapee Harbor Hotel. On a map of Sunapee Harbor dated 1892, it shows the S.A. French Livery in the same location,” local historian Ron Garceau explains.

In a narrative prepared for the Harbor House Livery Committee, formerly the Old Town Hall Committee, Garceau wrote:

In 1920, the building, then owned by Bert Sawyer, was deeded to the Town of Sunapee. In 1926, Moses Knowlton purchased and donated the Town Clock to top off the building.

The interior consists of three floors above ground level. On the ground level, wagons could drive under the building, in one side, out the other. While parked under the building, manure from the horse stalls on the first floor could be shoveled through hatches in the floor.

The first floor still contains the horse stalls, with the names of the horses tacked above the stalls. There is a spiral wooden ramp to lead horses from this floor to the second floor (street level). This ramp was obviously used quite a bit, and is somewhat unique. After WWII, this floor was used for storage by the town. There are some old civil defense helmets still in one of the stalls.

The street level, or second floor, was used to keep the buggies and tack. About the time that gas c.1920s), the building became used as a town fire station, and a fire truck was kept in this garage area. (Older trucks were smaller than today’s.)

The third floor was used as a meeting room, but as with the rest of the main structure, was not insulated, had no heat or plumbing.

Since 1920, the building has been used as a town office, it housed the Municipal Court, was home to the Sunapee Water & Sewer Department, has provided storage for the recreation committee, housed the Sunapee Police Department, and is currently home of the Sunapee Thrift Shop.

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