Sunapee Historical Society: Winter newsletter previews summer projects

SunapeeHistoricalSocietyAlthough the Sunapee Historical Society Museum at Sunapee Harbor is closed during winter, members are open for business researching and seeking out information for the Society’s summer projects.

In the recently published SHS Winter 2013 newsletter, President Becky Fitts Rylander previewed each of these programs:

  • A program on summer camps. This will be done in conjunction with our friends in other towns, coordinated through PALS (our Partners Around Lake Sunapee). Each town will focus on camps that operated within its boundaries. If you have any information about or photos of Camp Sunapee (a boy’s camp on Lake Ave. 100 years ago), please let us know. We have a photo and brochure for Camp Manauke, a girl’s camp on Star Island in the 1920s, but would welcome more. Any others?
  • Industries along the Sugar River. With a new pedestrian bridge being built in the spring behind the Harbor House Livery, we think this year will be a good time to explore all the industries that lined the river between the Harbor and Coffin Park. That area looked quite different a century ago. We have some information and photos, but would welcome more.
  • The old information booth. Despite our best intentions last summer, this 1929 vintage building still needs to be restored—and we still need help to get that done. If carpentry is up your alley, please let us know.

To volunteer or exchange information, email

To download/view the Winter 2013 newsletter, visit the Society’s website: A membership form is also posted on the website.

Old barn expert John Porter to speak in Sutton

Preserving Old BarnsSutton, N.H. – John Porter, who along with Francis Gilman authored the book “Preserving Old Barns”, will be the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Muster Field Farm Museum on January 13, 2013. The meeting will be held at the Freewill Baptist Church in North Sutton at 2 p.m. All are welcome to attend at no cost; refreshments will be served during the meeting.

Ever wonder about the history of the many barns along New Hampshire’s scenic byways? Or how you might restore the barn sitting in your backyard?

The book is a unique resource on preserving old barns and includes images of many of New Hampshire’s historic and scenic barns.

Porter and Gilman have compiled a fascinating look at traditional New England agricultural barns and structures, and are known as the go–to experts in this field. Both have had long careers working for UNH Cooperative Extension and are well-known throughout the farming community.

Porter will have copies of the book for sale or inspection at the meeting.

For more information, email:

Project Sunapee showcases local artisans and local history at HHL

An arts and crafts exhibit and sale featuring Sunapee artisans will take place at the historic Harbor House Livery (a.k.a. Old Town Hall) on Main Street, Sunapee Harbor, on Sunday, October 7, noon to 3. Refreshments will be served.

The event will feature Sunapee artisans including Joyce Gale (Unique Ewe woolly mittens),  Marie Wiggins (all manner of fine and fancy needlework), Cherie DeAugustinis (funky, fanciful sculpture, mirrors, trays, and more), Ellie White (Pashmina jackets and felted hats) and Sharon Parsons (pottery), who will demonstrate basket weaving.

Visitors will be able to explore the history and current activity surrounding the Harbor House Livery, which is on the New Hampshire Register of Historic Places.

“This is also an opportunity to glimpse back to Sunapee 1890. Harbor House Livery Committee docents will be present to answer questions and share a video history,” says Donna Gazelle for Project Sunapee, the event sponsor.

On display will be the wooden model of the pedestrian covered bridge that will span the Sugar River from River Street to Main Street. The harbor area project is under construction.

The scale model of the covered bridge (shown here) was created by Brent Stocker of Stocker Woodworks, Sunapee.

For more information, email

Projects Sunapee is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and encouraging economic vitality and education, cultural and historic assets, scenic landscapes and the social well being of our community.

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.

N.H. and the Civil War: How Memorial Day came to be

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.

This week, the focus is on how massive casualties during the Civil War changed the way we mourn the dead and led to the establishment of Memorial Day.

Approximately 33,000 New Hampshire soldiers – ten percent of the state’s 1860 population – served in the state’s cavalry, light battery, heavy artillery, eighteen infantry and two U.S. sharpshooter units. Of those, approximately 4,300 died on the battlefield or of injury or disease. Nearly 1,600 or so others were never accounted for.

At the time, both the North and South were accustomed to death being an intimate, family, at-home experience, with family plots and community cemeteries serving as final resting places. Loved ones dying far from home – with their bodies often buried in undocumented, mass graves – necessitated new ways of honoring the dead.

Women in the south began decorating the graves of soldiers with flowers before the war was over; later, towns in the north began doing so with formal, organized occasions.

Gov. Natt Head (1881) issued the proclamation formally establishing Decoration Day as a holiday in New Hampshire. The portrait of Gov. Head can be seen on the third floor of the N.H. State House.

In 1868, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic John A. Logan designated May 30 a day for “decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”

In 1881, New Hampshire Governor Natt Head issued a proclamation formally establishing Decoration Day as a holiday in our state.

Decoration Day evolved into what today we call Memorial Day, which honors all Americans who gave their lives in the armed services, in all wars.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May; New Hampshire continued to officially observe the holiday on May 30 until 1993, when Governor Stephen Merrill signed legislation joining the federal observance.

To learn more about Decoration Day in New Hampshire, visit and click on the “May is Preservation Month.”

Images made available by the N.H. Division of Historical Resources.

May is Preservation Month

Salmon Falls Village: "This well-preserved mill village, a fine example of 19th-century industrial urban planning, is experiencing an economic renaissance with art studios in the mills."

It began May 1st — Preservation Month — and it began with the Salmon Falls Village in Rollinsford.

The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources is celebrating “May is Preservation Month” by highlighting a unique New Hampshire historic property on its website every day. Each entry will include a picture of the property as well as its location and a brief description.

A sampling of profiled properties includes: Castle in the Clouds, Moultonborough; Mt. Jasper Mine archaeological site, Berlin; New Hampshire Iron Factory Blast Furnace, Franconia; and the Stone Arch Bridge, Keene.


LCHIP Grants Go To 24 Projects Including Black Mountain

Mount Kearsarge and Black Mountain together form a picturesque and historic backdrop to several communities. View from near NH 11 and NH 114 in Sutton. Photo by Jerry and Marcy Monkman, EcoPhotography.

The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) this week announced the award of matching grants to 24 projects including an  initiative to protect 1025 acres on Black Mountain in Sutton and Warner.

“LCHIP announced a $150,000 grant for Black Mountain, bringing the campaign over the $1 million mark,” said Forest Society Vice President for Development Susanne Kibler-Hacker. “Today’s total is $1,035,360. We have December 15 to raise the remaining $165,000.”

Read the Forest Society announcement.

Read more about the Black Mountain initiative.

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