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Historical and Archaeological Resources

Historical Landmarks
Local Oral Histories
Town History References

(The descriptions for each site in the following list were provided by Douglas G. Payne, Resource Inventory of the Cold River Corridor.)

Historical Landmarks

Listing/Eligibility

Significance

 


United Church Of Acworth , South Acworth  

not listed

local

The early and mid 1800s was a period of religious tolerance and many churches were organized in the small town of Acworth . Originally the Baptist Church , the United Church of Acworth was built at Lynn Hill, east of Acworth in 1818. In 1844 to attract more parishioners, the church was dismantled and moved less than a mile to the common land in Acworth. As the mill communities became the population centers in the mid 1800s, attendance dropped off and it was decided that the church would be moved again. Windows, pews and belfry were removed and the building shell was moved over three miles and downhill almost 700 feet in elevation. Six team of oxen were used to move the church using logs as rollers down Acworth Town Road . It is now located on the north side of Rt. 123A and is open for winter services.


Grange Hall, South Acworth  

not listed

 local

What was once the Methodist Church of Acworth is almost as well traveled as the old Baptist church. This building was dismantled in 1854 and rebuilt south of the Cold River , east of Beryl Mountain Road . It reopened on July 1855. It was sold and become the Grange Hall in the early part of this century.
(The Grange Hall was purchased by the Town in the 1980's and subsequently reroofed with town funds.)


Hutton House, River Road , Alstead 

NRHP eligible 

local

Hutton House was built in 1839 by Thomas Prentiss. It was the first house on River Street . In the mid 1800's it served as residence for the pastor of the Third congregational Church, Pastor Seth Arnold, who had returned from Acworth to preach in the town he had ministered in for many years.


Shedd Porter Library, Alstead

not listed 

regional

An elaborate structure built in the neo-classical style called Ecole des Beaux Arts, This library was designed by the Boston architects William H. McLean and Albert H. Wright. Built in 1909 as gift from John Graves Shedd and Mary Roenna Porter to the towns of Langdon and Alstead, it boasts granite and marble stone-work, mahogany paneling, mosaic floors, and gold leaf embellished on the interior of the dome. Shedd had roots here and had lived in these two towns until he was 16. The design of this building was studied and written about by Dan Bartlett from the Boston Architectural Center of Boston in Renaissance Influence on the Shedd-Porter Library, Nov. 1993.


Kingsbury grist and sawmill, Alstead 

not listed

local

Built by Elisha Kingsbury in 1793, this small brick mill survived the industrial revolution as industry moved from small streams to large centers of hydro power. It is presently used as a residence and antique shop. It is located on the north side of Rt. 123, east of Alstead.


Drewsville Mansion - Old Cheshire Turnpike,
Village of Drewsville , Walpole

 NRHP eligible

 local

The Drewsville Mansion is thought to have been built by architect/builder William Pitt Wentworth in 1880 in the Eastlake style that popularized the time. Noteworthy feature is the double-door entry-way with ornate porch. Window bays are located above the porch on the second and third story. All are decorated with jigsaw cut ornamentation. The mansion was built for Sarah Lathrop Lovell and Bolivar Lovell. Mr. Lovell was a prominent lawyer and server as an elected member of the Governor's Council in 1873-74.
(The Drewsville Mansion has more recently been used as low income housing.)


Bridges


McDermott Covered Bridge , Langdon 
(AKA Cold River Covered Bridge)

NRHP 

state

Three bridges previously stood on this site. The first was built in 1790. The current bridge was built by Albert S. Granger in 1869. The style is town lattice truss with light arches. The total length is 81' 0" an has a clear span of 76' 0". In 1961 it was estimated that it would cost $7,000 to restore the bridge, over 15 times the original cost of $450. At that time the town decided to build a modern bridge beside the old covered bridge, which was finished in 1964. McDermott Bridge was close to vehicular traffic and retained for historic reasons. At present there is an organization that is raising money for this bridge and the Prentiss Bridge which spans Great Brook in Langdon, to save these pieces of history.


Unnamed, Honey Brook, Acworth 

not evaluated 

local

(Stone bridge over Honey Brook slightly more than 1/4 mile upstream from confluence with Cold River .)


Historic Markers

   


“Town of Newton ” plaque, Alstead town square 

not listed

regional

(Alstead first proclaimed as Town of Newton , 1763, in a grant to John Towlet and others. New charter granted to Charles Chase and others in 1766.)


Paper Mill Village sign, Millot Green, 
Alstead

not listed 

regional

One of the first mills in Alstead, the paper mill was built in 1793. Paper was produced from linen and cotton rags. In the 1820's a lesser quality paper was also produced, made of straw. The mill survived several fires until in 1880 it burned to the ground.


Civil War Monument , Vilas Cemetery , 
Alstead

not listed

local


Honor Roll for World War I and II plaque, 
east of Alstead town square

not listed 

local


NRHP within watershed outside of corridor


Prentiss Covered Bridge , 
Little Brook/Cheshire Turnpike, Langdon

NRHP 

local


Congregational Church, Acworth

NRHP 

local


Lempster Meetinghouse NRHP local

NRHP 

local

South Acworth mill damLocal Town Histories, Oral Histories or
General Historical Knowledge

 Mills were an important part of life in the late 1700s and 1800s. Power could be supplied by animals such as horses or oxen or moving water. With the many steep drops and a narrow valley the Cold River was an ideal location for mills of all sorts. Many towns were located because of their proximity to mill sites. Keyes Hollow, East Acworth, South Acworth, Alstead , and Drewsville all became population centers because of the water power available and the mills that took advantage of these sites.

Early on, mills functioned primarily to aid the local population. Grist mills and sawmills were common in the 1700s. One of the early mills in Alstead produced paper, a rare and expensive product. As access to the region improved more mills were built and products for the outside world were produced. Flax was an important crop and it was processed and spun for cloth. Butter was also a major export from the region. In 1889 the town of Acworth produced 34,280 lbs. of butter. Maple sugar, and now maple syrup, has been an important crop for almost two centuries. To support these crops the local mills turned out buckets, tubs, barrels and other containers used to process and ship this produce. As the industrial revolution began, many mills began producing turnings using a lathe. Clothes pins, hoe and mop handles, bobbins, chair rails, and shoe pegs were produced by the thousands.

Keyes Hollow, now a little crossroads, was an important mill site in the 1800s. Up to three mills operated here. Shingles and custom lumber were cut in the saw mills and a grist mill also operated here.

East Acworth , which is now less populated than Keyes Hollow also had three mills and turned out quite an array of products. Barrels, bobbins, handles, boxes, sap buckets, and butter tubs were among them. Also operating were a cider press, grain thresher, bone meal grinder, a livery and a tavern.

South Acworth had between four and six mills operating at an time and they produced many of the same products as East Acworth did. Shoe pegs seems to have been the dominant export. One mill was perch precariously at the top of the waterfall that plunges into the Deep Hole. It was washed away on several occasions.

Alstead, also known as Paper Mill Village, supported many mills, the most famous being the Kingsbury Paper Mill. Paper which was an expensive product, requiring rags of linen and cotton cloth which were chopped into a pulp to make the paper. Later straw was used but the quality was inferior to paper made of cloth. The mill operated from 1793 to 1880 when it was lost to fire.

Drewsville also has its roots as a mill village. Col. Benjamin Bellows was one of the first to harness the waterpower of Drewsville Gorge. Over the years no less than seven mills operated along the Gorge.

The last important village to the area also relied on the mills but had none of its own. Cold River , near the mouth of the river was a train stop along the Connecticut River and most of the products exported from the mills along the Cold River came here to be shipped to population centers to the south.

Since the small mills along the Cold River could not compete with larger mills that could locate anywhere due to the advent of the combustion engines and then electricity, the industrial nature of these riverside towns has almost vanished. No mills operate and almost all the structures are gone, save a few houses. What is left in many spots, especially Keyes Hollow and around East Acworth , are the footings of buildings and dams that show their location and give an idea of the size of these old mill operations. All are in private hands.

Cold River mill sites have been inventoried and mapped by Helen Frink. (See Conservation, Recreation and Historic Sites map.) Another source of information is the inventory performed by Dick Diehl and Bud McCullough for the Lempster Master Plan. (See Lempster Mill Sites map.)

In addition to the mills discussed above by Payne, mining was an important industry in the region's history as well. The mineralization associated with the valley's geologic history provided large deposits of beryl and feldspar which were mined commercially from the mid-1800's to the mid-1900's. Pegmatite mines just outside the corridor in South Acworth provided important supplies of feldspar and beryl as well as quartz. The feldspar was shipped to the mid-west to support glass and ceramics industries there.

Town Histories

Alstead Through the Years - 1763-1990, Helen H. Frink

New Hampshire Borns a Town, Marion Nichol Rawson

History of Mill Hollow, Herman Chase

These Acworth Hills- 1767-1988, Helen Frink, 1989

History of Acworth, J.L. Merrill, 1869

History of Walpole , NH , Volumes I & II, Martha McDonalds Frizzell, 1963