Newmarket House, “The Grand Dame” of Main Street (1848-1944)

    Immediately to the south of Town Hall on Main Street, and constructed the same year was a three-story brick tavern/hotel which complemented the center of town for over 100 years.

    1st Owner - Benjamin B. Tuttle (1786-1855)

     Known as “Pa Tuttle” he was the owner of the Branscomb Tavern up the street.  Seeing all the changes in Lamprey River Village, he decided that a new, elegant tavern and hotel would be just the sort of thing that was needed.  As his son Benjamin F. (1825-1875) was already an experienced hotelier(having worked at his father’s tavern), this was a perfect time to extend the family business.  Pa purchased the land from the NMCo in 1847 and oversaw the construction. The Newmarket Hotel opened for business in 1848. It had about a dozen rooms, and in the early years the NMCo. Board of Directors met in an upstairs room configured just for them.

    From 1848 until shortly after 1855, under Pa Tuttle’s ownership, Isaac Furber was the hotel manager, and he was regarded as a very popular host. Shortly after Pa died and Benjamin F. took over, Isaac left for his home in South Newmarket where he worked until his death in 1880 at age 83.

    2nd Owners: 

    Pa Tuttle kept ownership of the new hotel until his death in 1855.  He bequeathed it to his children:  his son Benjamin F. received 2/3 ownership, and his daughter Sophia got the other 1/3.

    Benjamin F. ran the hotel until his death at age 50 in 1875.  At the time he left no will.  He and his wife Elizabeth (Doe) Tuttle had one child, Charles A. who grew up in the hotel business.  Elizabeth died two years after her husband, and in her will she left all her assets to her son Charles A., upon reaching his 25th birthday.  After the death of his mother, young Charles moved in with his uncle and aunt in South Newmarket.  He became a bookkeeper for the B.F. Haley Company, and at age 20 he married Addie Mathes in Newmarket.  He apparently had little  interest in running the hotel/bar and dealing with unruly customers; after his 25th birthday, he and Addie moved to Montana in 1888.  There he engaged in a new business, serving a more compliant public – he became an undertaker.

    When Charles A. left Newmarket, the Haley Company held a farewell testimonial dinner and presented him with a gold watch chain & charm.  He died in 1941, the same year that the Old Newmarket House was sold for the last time.  He and Addie only returned to town for their own burials in the Tuttle family lot in Riverside Cemetery.

    Ownership of the hotel is a little fuzzy after the passing of Benjamin F. in 1875.  It is not clear if Sophia acquired her brother’s share of the business and continued ownership, as she seems to have been erased from history: her name does not appear in any documents—no marriage notices, deeds, wills, or any other record of the period. 

    After Benjamin F.’s death, the leased management changed hands several times during the ensuing decades.   At some point after 1875 Hosea Q. Mason signed onto a lease from the Tuttle family.  A carriage maker and a Civil War veteran, he had married Mattie Nealley of Newmarket (daughter of Daniel Nealley the blacksmith).   However, there is no record of him ever having lived in Newmarket. 

     The Luck of the Irish & Patrick Haely 

    In 1881, Hosea ended his lease, selling it to Irish immigrant Patrick Haley, who held the lease for almost six years.  The Haley family had been living in town for nearly 20 years, with most members of the family working in the cotton mills.  Five of their eight children were born in Newmarket.  He held a grand opening in April with a complimentary dinner followed by a dance for invited guests and his extended Irish family.  It Was a “Do”.  Patrick Haley remained a lease holder for two 3-year terms, but he never purchased the property. 

    In January 1872 Patrick was sworn in as a US citizen. One of his witnesses was Timothy Griffin (a future owner of the Hotel) and the other was attorney C. H. Smith, who would later transform the top of the Newmarket House stable into a popular roller-skating rink.

    In 1883 he was voted Best Saloon Keeper and received a silver pitcher.  And his popularity rose too when earlier that year he installed an air gun shooting gallery on the front porch of the hotel which was popular with both sexes and brought in a lot of business.  Despite his successful run managing the Newmarket House, rather than renewing his lease, Patrick Haley bought the old Branscomb’s Tavern further up Main Street.  A prime example of Newmarket’s immigrants making their way up the socioeconomic ladder, the Haley family had a unique story, which is included with Site No. 34, Branscomb’s Tavern.

    Neally Morgan & A Name Change

    In 1886, the Newmarket House lease was picked up by another Irish immigrant.  On July 24th  Neally Morgan reopened the Newmarket Hotel.  It is unclear whether Mr. Morgan purchased the property or merely took over Haley’s lease. Despite the hotel having been known as the Newmarket House for nearly 40 years, Morgan changed the name to “the Morgan House”   and put up a new sign and lantern out front.  

    In 1880 he put up a flamboyant barber pole, which the paper described as:Neally Morgan (1848-1895) was a colorful town character –involved in town politics and the fire department. Born in Ireland, he came to Boston with his parents Patrick & Bridget Morgan in 1853 when he was five years old. His parents moved to town to work in the cotton mills.   Neally worked hard over the course of his life in Newmarket—as the Town Hall janitor, part-time police officer, barber, pool hall owner, hotel manager, and seller of just about anything that crossed his path. He gained his citizenship in 1880 and immediately became active in the local Democratic Party.  He was the Supervisor of the Check List and was later elected to the NH State Legislature.

     “a beautiful and novel sign, in the shape of a tall pole with corrugated surface painted in narrow perpendicular stripes and surmounted by a golden dome.  It certainly is a handsome addition to our street signs.”

    Just before Christmas 1886, he was the recipient of a gold watch and chain from many of his friends and relatives at a surprise party, oyster dinner and dance at the Morgan House. 

    In 1894, he left Newmarket with his wife and two sons to manage the Granite House, an Exeter hotel.   Neally died suddenly in January 1895 in Exeter of heart disease; he is buried in Calvary Cemetery.

    3rd part-owners John Torry,  Michael Griffin, & Valentine Murphy 

    Michael Griffin purchased his share of the business in 1894; he moved his family to a new house in Newfields by the bridge in 1897, and died there in Oct 1905 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery.The newspaper stated that John Torrey leased the Morgan house when Neally left town, and that “Murphy and Griffin of South Newmarket will run the Morgan House for John Torrey of the same place”.  Torrey’s relationship apparently ended when Michael Griffin and Valentine Murphy purchased the property.

    3rd part owner Valentine G. Murphy changed the name of the hotel when he bought the property in January 1894.  Murphy hired local carpenter and painter Orrin F. Lovell to create a new sign and placed it center of the balcony out front, the “Newmarket House” sign became a downtown fixture until 1944.  Nevertheless, it did take a few years for the public to let go of the former name.

    (photo of Tiger No. 1 Fire Department in front of the Newmarket House, take after 1894)

    Murphy enlarged the dining hall, had hardwood floors laid down, and repapered and painted the hotel. Then in 1899 he installed new bathrooms, added a few new rooms, and updated the look. Business was so good for Valentine that he purchased a 16-foot sloop-rigged boat that he kept tied up in the Lamprey behind the Hotel which he was used for rented outings.  For his personal use he bought H.H. Pinkham’s yacht ”The Fawn” which he used for racing on the bay. He also bought a summer cottage at Hampton Beach for his family.

    In August 1899 The Newmarket Advertiser ran this snippet, although Murphy had changed the name of  the hotel back to The Newmarket House five years earlier.

    There was a troublesome trial in 1903 when Valentine Murphy was brought before the State Liquor Commission for selling beer to minors. The “monors” were mill workers and just shy of 21 years old.   After lengthy testimony by the two boys, the boys’ fathers, the Liquor Inspector who brought the charges, the Police Chief and Murphy’s attorney Judge Shute of Exeter, Murphy was found not guilty. The fathers testified that they had taken the boys to the Newmarket House recently and had been served by Murphy after the men stated the boys were of age, when in fact they weren’t.   Murphy kept his liquor license.

    Murphy sold his interest in the hotel after he received a job offer with a large hotel in Brooklyn, N.Y.  Murphy and his family stayed at their Hampton Beach home for the summer before leaving for the city in the fall.  The 1910 Census finds him living in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife, two sons, and several of his in-laws.  He owned a saloon.  But with Prohibition in1920, still in Brooklyn, he was a watchman at a bank.  He died in New York in 1934 and is buried in Newmarket at Calvary Cemetery.

    Temperance comes a-calling…and stays.

    Not all Newmarket saloon owners were lucky as Valentine Murphy.  Back in 1898 Gideon Marcardie bought Silver’s Hotel on Main Street and then a few years later he was arrested on an alcohol related charges and sentenced to 2 months in jail and a $200 fine by Judge Pike and he was enjoined from any further sales of liquor.  Immediately after, Gideon sold his hotel to George Willey who renamed it the Willey Hotel.

    And in 1903, there were several crackdowns on town saloons that year after complaints by temperance groups and local clergy.   In 1904 saloons, taverns and pool halls were ordered to close by 10 p.m., and they could not open on Sundays.  There were constant liquor license checks and temporary closures throughout the town.  Police raids shut down household and barnyard stills.  Between 1910 and 1916 there was a flurry of such activity surrounding hotels and taverns. 

    Sometimes families took matters into their own hands.  A common reminiscence of that era involved women marching into the saloon on payday to relieve their other half of what was left of his pay check.  Sometimes they sent one of their older children on that errand.   

    There continued to be a call from the churches against the vices of alcohol.  From the Civil War up to the 1930s, these temperance societies had Chapters in town:

    NH State Temperance Union

    Rockingham County Temperance Association.

    Women’s Temperance Society

    Women’s Christian Temperance Society

    The Sons of Temperance

    The Daughters of Temperance

    The Catholic Temperance Society

    St. Mary’s Temperance Society

    Union Temperance of the Congregational Church

    The Loyal Temperance Legion

    And Of Course Always…. The Baptist Church

    In December 1910 Mrs. S. G. Fletcher, the NH State Superintendent of Evangelistic Work in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union came to Newmarket and addressed an overflow crowd.

    (Undated photo of the cigar counter and common reception area of the Newmarket House, complete with a moose head casting an eye over all who enter)

    4th, 5th and 6th Owners between 1906 and 1919.

    Timothy Griffin was the brother of the previous part-owner Michael. He had been living with Michael and their sister Elisabeth at the family farm in Newfields. Timothy had been working as a teamster and he also clerked in C. H. Mathes’ saloon prior to buying the hotel from V. G. Murphy in 1906 a few months after Michael’s death.

    By 1914, things started to go downhill—a trend that continued through several owners: 

    • 4th owner Timothy Griffin was stricken with tuberculosis and was in a sanatorium in Grafton, NH and remained there at the time his sister registered him for the draft in 1917.  (He left Newmarket for Los Angeles, California in Dec 1924 for health reasons; however, he died there three months after arriving and is buried in LA.  Timothy never married.)
    • In May the leased proprietors of the Newmarket House William E. Ritchie (more on him at Site 35 — the Brooks Block)  & Lewis E. Chase did not receive their liquor licenses –and  That Was Not Good.
    • 5th owner  St. Mary Catholic Church.   Also in May it was announced that Newmarket House would shortly be sold by the Catholic Church, which had been bequeathed the business by a former owner.  One or both of the Griffin brothers may have been involved.  Michael Griffin (d. 1905) may have bequeathed his as part share of the property.  Timothy Griffin may have donated/deeded his share to the church prior to his death.  Both were active Church supporters.
    • In early July John H. Broderick (a previous manager of Chase’s Hotel at Rockingham Junction) leased the Newmarket House and assumed proprietorship.  Mr. Chase left the Newmarket House and returned to running his own hotel back at the Junction.
    • 6th owner Moses H. London bought the building in September  for $5,250.   It stayed under his ownership until 1919.   He kept John Broderick on as manager.

    Mr. Broderick was interviewed by the Portsmouth Herald in August 1941 as items were being removed from Newmarket House in preparation for it to be torn down.  Back in the late 1890s and up until the summer of 1915, John had managed the hotel.

      He recalled that “it was a mighty well-built hotel, one of the best buildings in town. Show people put up there when they were playing vaudeville at the town theater. There were different casts that performed Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Mora two popular plays of the day.   People were different in those days, too.  I never recalled dealing with a deadbeat or having any unpleasant competition with the hotel Willey across the street. 

     The guests enjoyed smelts and eels caught in the Lamprey River back of the hotel and served family style on the long table in the dining room.  There were about 10 sleeping rooms, but when they were full, as when the shows came to town, guests doubled up.   Men connected with the Newmarket Manufacturing Company, salesmen and drummers [salesmen who sell their goods directly to the public from the hotel] made up the bulk of the trade, although some townspeople would live at the hotel in the winters.

    1915 wasn’t much better for the Newmarket House.  John Broderick became ill within a year and was forced to close the hotel on June 25th, 1915.  A month later Moses London leased it to Arthur LeBlanc who had formerly run a boarding house over Dearborn’s Store.  His boarding house here was short-lived; he closed in October and moved with his family to Lowell, Mass.

    Moses London auctioned off all of the of bed chamber furnishings at the end of the year; he held two more auctions—in 1916 and 1917—when the last of all the household furniture was sold.

    Also sold off was the hotel’s stable equipment.  The stable was near the waterfront between the Hotel and the Community Church, and it too would eventually be torn down and salvaged for lumber.

    During the remainder of M.H. London’s ownership, there was little activity at the hotel, due to the economic privations of war and the restrictions on public houses during the pandemic.

    Moses (AKA M.H. London) was a successful dry goods salesman who had an apartment on Main Street, but traveled back and forth to his family who remained in Roxbury, Mass.   Born in 1857 in that part of Poland occupied by Russia, both he and his wife Tillie were Russian Jews who left Europe in 1875.  Moses was naturalized in Boston in 1881; and in the 1890s he set up two dry goods stores in Newmarket and Exeter.  He stayed in town actively selling out of his dry goods store for the next 30 years.  He acquired a part ownership of a wharf on the river, as well as several other parcels of real estate.  Moses rented or leased out several properties to other businesses in town—but he never leased to another dry goods store.

    M. H. London was well respected and admired as a fair-minded businessman.  He was a charter member of the Piscatoquack Club (a gentleman’s club formed in 1904), and held several offices there. Other civic work included directorship on the Newmarket Board of Trade and serving as Treasurer for the Exeter Hospital Charitable Tag Day drive in 1916. 

    One story speaks to M. H. London’s character: 

    One day a young man got off the train at the Newmarket Depot and immediately got lost.  He spoke no English, had no money, all he did have was a piece of luggage and a piece of paper with a Post Office box number on it.  A townsman led him to the Post Office.  When the Postmaster determined the man only spoke Yiddish, he then looked at the paper and smiled. He glanced at the clock and motioned to the stranger to sit by the window. 

    Within five minutes Moses came into the post office as was his routine, punctual as ever.  The men heartedly embraced and Moses took him home.  Moses had sponsored the man’s exit from Russia and gave him a position in one of his businesses.

    His wife and two daughters frequently came up and spent the summer months in Newmarket.  Tillie often hosted Newmarket women at the couple’s home in Roxbury, Mass.  She died there suddenly at age 47 in 1901.  Their daughter Goldie spent much of her youth in town and became an art teacher in Haverhill.  She moved to Winthrop with her father shortly before 1926 and died there after a year’s illness.


     M.H. London, Prohibition and the Newmarket House  

    With Prohibition, a major revenue stream was cut off; and  Moses sought a new buyer.   He approached the Town.  Knowing that the local government had outgrown the Town Hall, he thought that the building could be made into perfect office space.

    An article was placed on the Feb 28, 1919 town warrant:

    To see what sums of money the town will vote to raise and appropriate for the purchase of the land and buildings known as the Newmarket House property.

    It did not pass.  People were tired.  They were tired of spending—for War Bonds, for coal, for overpriced goods, and tired of dealing with severe rationing.  They were tired of suffering through the pandemic.  In January there were still more cases of the flu and two of the schools had remain closed because some of the staff were sick.   In February, cases of pneumonia still lingered. 

    The townsfolk simply voted no.

    Despite economic challenges, reports show that Moses formed lasting friendships during his decades in Newmarket.  He visited Channing Folsom in a Boston hospital when he was undergoing treatment there.  When Woodbridge Durrell died in 1920, Moses was one of his pallbearers.   (Moses had bought out his dry goods store on Water and Main Street in 1891.)

    It’s unclear how long after his departure from Newmarket in 1922 that M.H. London’s dry goods stores continued in the area, but according to The Newmarket Advertiser, he continued to visit Newmarket periodically in the years that followed. 

    Moses died at age 78 in 1935 and is buried in Tifereth Isreal Cemetery in West Roxbury, Mass. with Tillie and their daughter Goldie. 

    7th Owner was the NMCo.

    In June 1919, after the building had been gutted, The Newmarket Advertiser announced that:

    M.H. London has sold his brick building on Main Street, formerly known as the Newmarket House, to the Newmarket Manufacturing Company.  The company has several plans, nothing refined yet.

    The company did a massive renovation of the building with the prospect of housing female boarders.   On the first floor was a dining room where male employees could eat as well.

    On the other side of the hall was the girl’s parlor, with a small men’s waiting room in the rear.  The interior finish was changed to all-natural wood with wood floors throughout.  There were 32 bedrooms for female employees only, with each double room equipped with two twin beds.   

    There was a large pantry and a large laundry in the basement, with steam piped in from the NMCo plant. There was a large modern bathroom on each floor.  A newly constructed commercial kitchen had the same plan as many of the largest modern hotels; it was under the charge of the chief cook, Mrs. H. D. Gove.  

    The house was managed by George Willey of Hotel Willey, and the matron was Mrs. Cyrus Willey of Middleton, NH.  There was a Grand Public Opening on June 4, 1920 which was toured by many townspeople.

    The initial concept of housing for female workers was somewhat reminiscent of the old Factory Girl boarding houses.  But it turned out not to be very successful:   the demure retiring country girl of the 1820s was a far cry from the independent working-girl/flapper of the 1920s. 

    Also, in 1920 not all was going so well for the mill management.  For a variety of reasons dealing with market forces, two weeks before Christmas there was a major cut in wages, with a large part of the workforce laid off; and most of the mills were only running two days a week.

    On June 23, 1922, with one terse sentence in The Newmarket Advertiser it was printed:

    “The New boarding house of the Newmarket Manufacturing Co. (formerly the Newmarket House) has been closed and the help discharged!”

    The NMCo had better luck later in Oct 1923 when they repurposed the building as a Men’s Club for their male employees.

    It soon became yet more successful when females were added to the mix.

    This notice of the Newmanco Club January 1925 annual meeting was published in the Newmarket Advertiser and shows the growth of the organization. 

    The building remained the property of the mills until the company closed and declared abandonment in February 1932.  The NMCo management made an attempt to help some of the families of workers who crossed the picket by creating a day care in the building, but that lasted only as long as the mills remained open.

    8th owner of the property defaulted to the Town of Newmarket

    After the NMCo. abandooned their property,  ensuing court litigation gave the property to the town, there were only a few tenants and a few isolated events that took place in the building: in 1934, the Garden Club held their Christmas Party there, and in June 1941 it was the site of Miss Frances Allen’s wedding.

    9th owner The Bank takes ownership

    In March 1941, in small type under real estate transfers was a notice:   Sold March 8, 1941 by Isadore Meyer, Trustee, Liberty Trust Company,  to Newmarket National Bank— Newmarket House property and wharf rights.

    10th Owner Shell Oil Company and Public Outrage

    The entire building was evacuated in August of ’41 when it was announced that 10th owner, the Shell Oil Company  had taken possession.  “the building was sold by Town selectmen!”  The exclamation point was added by the editor. Thus ended the 93-year-old reign of  “The Grand Dame of Main Street”. 

    When word got out that the building would be torn down to make way for a Shell Gas Station, there was an outcry by townspeople who did not want this historic building to be razed for a gas station. Petitions circulated and many selectmens’ meetings became highly heated affairs.

    Ralph Berry had arranged the sale.  The brother-in-law of former mill agent Walter M. Gallant, he had previously been employed as foreman of the millyard.  Ralph had his hand in town politics, and was active as committee chairman of the Industrial Research Committee for the NH Seacoast Regional Development Association. He was Deputy Sheriff of Rockingham County, and he worked soliciting industries on several WW II War Bond Drives.

    He also was elected to the position of Road Agent—won in a tight vote.  (It was widely rumored around town that the only way he won was by busing loads of Newmarket residents who were working in the Lowell mills to the polls before closing time on Election Day!)

    The old brick building remained vacant but standing until December 1944 when it was torn down.  At the time 16 year old Edward Renzulla fell three stories from the roof of the building and landed on his feet, unhurt.  The story which first appeared in the Portsmouth Herald on December 3, was picked up by the wire services and ran nationwide.

    In December, letters to the editor appeared in several local newspapers.

    11th Owner  Turned it into a Parking Lot

    Ultimately, the Shell Company sold the land to 11th owner Arthur Turcotte, after they had demolished the building.   Mr. Turcotte used the land for parking for his  hardware business across the street, but it was also used by the Community Church, and for Town Hall.  

    Arthur T. Turcotte (1880-1957) was a Newmarket selectman, a state representative and a town resident for 67 years.  He held the office of Town Treasurer from 1900 to 1910. 

    Born in Canada, Arthur moved to town in 1890 to work in the mills.  He eventually opened a grocery store 1907, later transferring to the hardware business across the street in the bottom of the Star Theater (the old Methodist Church).   More information on the Turcotte family can be found at Site # 35  The Brooks Building.

    In the 1980’s Rivermore Landing acquired part of the property for the exclusive use of their members.

    What’s Left of Newmarket House?… An Archaeological Dig

    Sometimes, in towns as old as ours there are artifacts to be unearthed.  In 2013, the area out behind the Newmarket House site came under scrutiny.  The following is from the Acadia Engineers and Construction storyboard concerning their construction at the Lang Blacksmith Shop in 2013. Because the site was considered an historic building and grant monies were involved, they were required to perform an archaeological survey.

    It comprised of nine excavation sites located northeast of the Lang Blacksmith Shop and parallel to the Lamprey River. Excavation began by hand, but some mechanical assistance was necessary to penetrate dense layers of compact soils and coal ash. Each test pit was roughly 75 cm x 75 cm wide and 150 cm deep.

    Each of the test pits contained a variety of mid-19th to early 20th century Euroamerican artifacts, including fragments of brick, ceramic, and glass. There were 2,597 artifacts found among the nine test pits. Domestic artifacts such as glass bottles and ceramic shreds accounted for more than half of the items found. There were also substantial architectural artifacts found, but no artifacts related to pre-Contact Native American culture were discovered.