Site Number 33. 86 Main Street—the Kingman Masonic Building
Of all the names associated with this building, one is missing—Dr. Samuel Greene. He was well known and served the town for over 25 years—as doctor, selectman and postmaster. Dr. Greene built all sorts of structures in town including this one. He provided a space here for the Rising Star Masonic Lodge, of which he was a member. Yet his name seldom appears anywhere.
Constructed in 1873, the ground floor here was leased to Dr. Greene’s fellow Masons—druggist John Twombly and jeweler Bradford Kingman. Later on, Bradford’s son Bela—also a Mason—took over the family business. By then the Kingman family owned the building, and were proprietors here for over 75 years. In 1958 the Rising Star Lodge bought the property and continued meeting upstairs as they had since 1873. When the building was sold in 2020, the egg tempera murals remained—as vibrant as when they were painted nearly 150 years earlier. Our online link has photos of this historic interior as well as biographies of the Lodge’s Worshipful Masters.
Jewelers Bradford and Bela Kingman did business here for well over 60 years. Meanwhile, after Dr. Twombly, a number of pharmacists came and went. There was
- Fellow Mason Alvah Place, who sold wallpaper on the side; and
- Al Sands who brought the REXALL name to town, but ended up in jail and bankrupt;
- George Goggins who brought it out of bankruptcy, keeping the REXALL franchise;
- The Rousseau family who brought the pharmacy through the Depression and World War II: Joseph Rousseau was a World War I Veteran who began work here in 1932; his son Paul became owner of Kingman REXALL and Kingman Coffee Shop after his World War II stint with the Navy.
A new century brought a new business here: In the year 2000 James Kimball opened a used bookstore called Crackskulls. By 2006 when Michelle Lesmerises bought the business, the bookstore had a coffee shop as well. Crackskulls continues to sell first-rate coffee and second-hand books.
While the Bartending School of Newmarket has continued into its fifth decade here on the second floor, another tenant rapidly outgrew the space. Fifty years after setting up their first practice upstairs from Kingmans, the Lamprey Health Center now has three locations and serves 21,000 patients.
Check out the online link to read the story about Bela Kingman’s connection with General Tom Thumb.
Continue up the street for Site Number 34. It’s the next building.
END OF AUDIO TEXT. See below for photos and more information.
This lot was once part of the garden of the King’s Surveyor Walter Bryant. The property was deeded down to his heirs Edward and Walter Smith. Walter was known at the time as a well-connected, religious, and generous merchant. Walter’s two sons Edward and Samuel built a 2-story wooden store on this spot in 1827 and Walter allowed free use of the upper lever to the newly formed religious society for public worship and education of some of the mill youth. Elder David Sanford, the first church minister in town, preached in the hall. Soon the space became too small, and the Newmarket Manufacturing Company donated land for what was to become the Community Church. The Methodist and Congregational Societies left for their newer buildings and the hall reverted back for Walter Smith’s commercial use.
J.F. Chapman, an early Newmarket historian wrote that the older scholars in the hall recited verses from the New Testament; on one Sabbath, they recited over a hundred verses —more than once.
(photo: Rev. David Sanford, first minister of the Methodist & Congregational Societies) preached from this site in an earlier building constructed by brothers Edward & Samuel Smith in 1827)
The Smith store burned down in 1840. A new building replaced it by 1857 which was housed the dry goods store of Susan (Smith) Greene and clerked by Samuel A. Haley. That was torn down by her son Dr. Samuel Greene who then built the larger 3 and a half story wooden building known today as the Kingman Building.
(photo taken between 1879 & 1887, while Dr. John Twombly had his drug store in the building, from a NHS stereoscopic card)
Samuel H. Greene, (grandson of Walter Smith) constructed the present building in 1873 during the height of Newmarket’s manufacturing era. He leased a drugstore on the ground floor to Dr. John Twombly. The second floor was leased to a dentist, and the Newmarket Advertiser (for a brief time). The third floor was dedicated to the Rising Star Masonic Lodge, of which he was a member.
Bradford S. Kingman (1846-1901) moved into the building in 1873 and ran his jewelry business here until his death in 1901. His son Bela later took over his father’s business and continued to sell jewelry until he retired. Both father and son were very involved in the Masonic Lodge and held many offices on the local and state level.
In 1883 Dr. Greene sold to Bradford S Kingman one half of the interest in the property and buildings, and in 1894 Mr. Kingman leased the Mason Lodge Hall to the Masons for a 10-year period for $50 per year, with the option to continue the lease in ten-year increments. Mr. Kingman later sold his interest to his son Bela Kingman.
In 1906 one could buy the “latest Edison Records As Soon As Issued” at Kingman’s. The building stayed under the control of the Kingman family from 1883 until 1958 when Bela’s widow Alice sold it to “The Kingman Masonic Building Corporation”.
Alvah Place came to Newmarket in 1882 and worked for three years under Dr. Twombly. When Dr. Twombly left town, Alvah bought his business and ran the Pharmacy section. He also specialized in wallpaper, and wallpaper supplies, paints and varnishes which he sold from the shop.
He operated here for almost thirty years until he opened his own drug store in 1913 farther down Main Street on the bottom floor of the Star Theatre. The Star had recently been renovated and two larger stores were installed on either side of the theatre entrance — which meant more space and more foot traffic from movie patrons.
The Drug Store next became affliated with the REXALL when it opened under new management in the last week of December 1913 under Druggist Albert J Sands. He held his grand opening on Christmas Week with a special appearance of Santa himself.
(This photo was taken December 22, 1913 of the Kingman and Sands Store.
Back row from left: Henry Hevey, Robert Staples, John Dockum and Joseph Rousseau.
Seated: jeweler Bela Kingman, Robert Scott (as Santa), and Store Owner and Druggist Albert J. Sands.)
Sands successfully ran the store and he soon expanded into a side business called Sands Motor Sales. He purchased William Priest’s house on #3 Maple Street, and all appeared to be going quite well for him until he was indicted in July of 1930, arrested and sent to jail on five counts of felony Concealment and Misappropriation of Property. He declared bankruptcy in November of 1930, and the court appointed Deputy Sheriff Ralph Berry to sell his property and distribute the assets to creditors, the biggest of which was the Newmarket National Bank, followed by the Chrysler Corporation.
In April, 1931 Portsmouth Druggist and fellow Mason George Goggins bought Sand’s bankrupt store, renovated the interior and re-opened in May, still under the REXALL franchise but with all new stock. WW I Veteran Joseph Rousseau (pictured above) returned to work at the REXALL Store in 1932 and soon became the store manager, retiring in 1957. Joseph also served as Town Clerk 1920-1924 and again between 1926-1931.
After WW II, Joseph’s son Paul returned home from the Navy and joined his father’s business, eventually taking over after Joseph retired. Paul installed a full lunch counter which became known for its muffins. Two Army Veterans, Doctor Irving Brown and Dentist L Forbes Getchell, opened their practices on the second floor of the building until they joined forces and bought the old Branscomb tavern next door.
In 1979 when the “straight line wind gust” came roaring over Park Hill and down Central Street, it rocked the building and twisted it slightly at the juncture between the first and second floors. The store closed while the Masons had extensive repairs done to reset the building. Once closed, Paul Rousseau then opened his restaurant “Durgin’s 1894” in the Durgin Block.
Since it first built in the 1870s, the second floor was the home to several attorneys, dentists, doctors, and other businesses over the ensuing decades.
The Bartending School of Newmarket
On the second floor has been one of its longest tenants, being in business for 45 years.
In May 2013, “Lamprey Health Center Chief Executive Officer Ann Hathaway Peters retired from a place that was “like another home and family” to her. Peters, a resident of Kittery, Maine, ended her 34-year tenure on a positive note. Lamprey was founded in 1971 by a group of citizens to bring medical, health and supportive services to Rockingham and Strafford counties. In 1972, a transportation program was created to improve access to health and community services for seniors and individuals with disabilities. The first center in Newmarket opened in 1973 when Peters became CEO in 1979, the organization operated a single health center in rented space over Kingman’s Coffee Shop in downtown Newmarket. In subsequent decades, Peters led Lamprey Health Care through multiple building projects, including three capital campaigns, and became a national and regional leader in the health care community. Today, Lamprey has three health centers that serve 21,000 patients. The other centers are in Raymond and Nashua. “ (from an article written by Suzanne Laurent and printed online May 19th, 2013 at email@example.com)
Over the past few decades as their medical practice grew, the office moved to the bottom of Elm Street and eventually to South Main Street before opening an additional facility in Raymond.
Crackskulls opened in this space in 2000 as a used bookstore. James Kimball, who first opened the store, chose the title Crackskull’s because “it’s a word not used since the 1800s, and means ‘nitwit,’” according to Michelle Lesmerises, the current owner in an interview with Hannah Donahue of The New Hampshire in 2019. Lesmerises bought the shop in 2006 when the bookshop and coffee shop were already combined. Besides first-rate coffee and fresh pastries, the store sells second hand books and used vinyl and local artwork. The books they buy must have a cover, no writing, highlighting or underlining in them, no damage, and no mold. They also don’t carry magazines, encyclopedia sets, comic books or textbooks. The store features an art gallery which changes monthly. These works can range from photography to pop-art to paintings.
Prior to Covid-19 Shutdown, Crackskull’s hosted evenings of prose or poetry read by the authors who could also share their own work — lyrics, pages from a novel, or a short story/essay. Those evenings were so successful, that it was expanded to PP&P for Pipsqueaks and PP&P for Young Writers, encouraging people of all ages to explore their literary interests.
Born in Newmarket, February 12, 1837, son of Simon Pelham and Sarah Augusta (Smith) Greene. His parents removed to Boston in 1844, where his father became a member of the firm of Darrah, Morse & co. When Simon Greene died on August 1, 1849, aged forty-one years, Sarah returned to Newmarket, where she resided until her death in 1862 at age fifty-two. Both she and her husband are buried in the old town cemetery.
Doctor Greene attended school in Pittsfield, Gilmanton and Atkinson. He spent about three years in travel in Wisconsin and New York, then returned to Newmarket, and began the study of medicine, the practice became his life work.
(photo of Doctor Samuel Greene taken from his published obituary in 1862)
He attended a course of lectures at Harvard in 1857, at Hanover in 1858, back to Harvard in 1859 and was there graduated in 1860, and immediately began practice in Durham, where he remained six years. He then purchased the practice of Newmarket’s Dr. William Folsom, moved to town and opened his own practice which he ran for 50 years until his death in 1891. On one Sunday in January 1892 he made 50 house calls due to the outbreak of “Le Grippe” in town – which gives an indication of the dedication to service and the stamina the Doctor possessed.
A Republican in politics, he has served his town in various capacities, such as moderator, supervisor, member of the school board, board of health and coroner. For six consecutive years he was chairman of the board of selectmen. During the administration of presidents Arthur and Harrison, he was chosen the town’s post master for eight years; but during that time it was his son, Walter Bryant Greene, who actually ran the office while his father continued in his medical practice. Doctor Greene initially had his practice in the Main Street building and Al Place ran the drug store on the bottom Floor when Dr. Towle left.
For more Dr. Green’s life and his practice see (site # 46 - Spring Street Dr. Towle’s House)
Doctor Samuel Green actually built and had offices in both the “Kingman Building” and “Dr. Towle’s House on Spring Street. It is the fickleness of history that he has no building in town named after him, although he owned a lot of land, houses and commercial buildings during his lifetime of practice and service to the town.
Dr. Greene, himself a Mason, was a member of the Rising Star Lodge No. 47, which was charted in Newmarket back in 1827. For 10 to 15 years following the granted charter, Masons in New England were persecuted. Clergymen were turned out of their pulpits, church members refused the sacrament, teachers lost jobs, and member met in private homes. In the 1840s anti-masonry subsided and when the Lodge regained its charter they met on the third floor of the “company store” (the former Brooks Building).
In 1873 Dr. Greene offered to finish the top of his new building and lease the entire floor to the Masons for 20 years at $100 per annum. The hall measured 27’x40’.and the third floor of this building became exclusively used by the Masons.
[The Masons purchased the property in 1958 and sold it in 2020. For the Masonic story in Newmarket and photos of the interior of the Lodge see the link attached at the beginning of this site, or go to (https://www.newmarketnhhistoricalsociety.org/the-walking-tour/site-no.33-86-main-st-kingman-building/the-rising-star-mason-lodge).
When the building was sold, the egg tempura murals remained as vibrant in 2020 as when painted in October 1873 by Portland Maine painter W.L.Keilier. Most of the men affiliated with Doctor Greene and this building in the early years were all members of the Masonic Lodge. Both fathers and sons Dr. Samuel and Walter Greene, Bradford and Bela Kingman were members; as were Dr. John Twombly, and Pharmacist Alvah Place and Dr. George Goggins.
Born in Dover in 1848, Twombly went on to graduate from Dartmouth University and Harvard Medical School. Following a short stint as an assistant physician in his hometown, Dr. Twombly moved to Brooklyn, NY, to practice at the King’s County Lunatic Asylum, where he stayed for two years, gaining valuable medical experience. From there, he accepted the position of assistant physician at the Michigan Asylum for the Insane in Kalamazoo.
(photo: Masonic Worshipful Master 1883-1885)
In 1879, Dr. Twombly returned to New Hampshire and became a druggist here until October 1887 when a pulmonary illness sent him into semi-retirement to a farm in Milton. He did, however, still see patients, including his own wife who had contracted tuberculosis and suffered serious complications. In 1909, Dr. Twombly published a medical case study of his wife’s illness, noting the success he had with certain pre-antibiotic chemical compounds. He died in 1927 at age 78 in the Masonic Home in Manchester, both he and his wife Frances are buried at Pine Hill Cemetery in Dover.
Photo taken after 1887: B.S.Kingman and his hanging watch, Doctor Greene (center sproting his customary full white beard) and Druggist Alva Place in the white jacket under his wallpaper sign
Alvah H. Place, was one of the town’s leading druggist. A native of Strafford, where he was born in 1861. The son of Jonathan and Sarah (Waterhouse) Tuttle. His father descended from one of the first settlers at Dover Point, and his family was one of the oldest in the state. His mother died when he was four years of age and his aunt, Mrs. Hannah Place of Milton, reared him as her own child, and he was universally known by the name of Place; and when he became of age, he legally changed his last name to Place. At age 12 he worked on a farm for two years, attending school in the winters. Wanting more education he was sent to live and work for the Rev George Spaulding in Dover where he attended Dover schools. He then worked at the Cocheco Print Works for a short time before being apprenticed to Lothrup and Pinkham where he learned the drug business.
Alvah Place came to Newmarket in 1882 and worked for three years under Dr. Twombly. When Dr. Twombly left town, Alvah bought his business and ran the Pharmacy section. He enlarged the space and specialized in wallpaper, and wallpaper supplies, paints and varnishes which he sold from the shop. He operated here for almost thirty years until he opened his own drug store farther down Main Street on the bottom floor of the old Methodist Church. He stayed there until it closed in 1932. A total of 50 years in the pharmacy business on Main Street.
He was very involved in local and state Republican politics. Although frequently asked, the demands of his business forced him to decline multiple county and state governmental job offers. Locally, however, he was busy in town political life. He served as moderator, chairman of the water board, and, in 1897, represented the town in the legislature.
In 1907 he was credited for his efforts in curbing rampant partisanship and political chicanery by forcing representatives of both parties to sign an agreement “to suppress the illegal use of money or any form of bribery at elections”.
Mr. Place was a director of the Newmarket National Bank; a member of Pioneer Lodge, No. 1, K. of P., and an active, and a Worshipful Master of Rising Star Lodge, No. 47, A. F. and A. M.,
He was appointed Justice of the Peace and judge of the municipal court of Newmarket for many years retiring in 1931 when he turned 70 years old. He sat on the court bench during the height of the mill lockout and strike, at a time of assaults on mill security guards.
The Place Family:
Sarah Lizzie Palmer, (1863-1938) daughter of John and Bertha A. Palmer of this town, became Alvah’s wife on New Year’s Eve 1883. Lizzie like her sisters Nellie Palmer George and Bertha Palmer Greene was very active in the D.A.R. serving various local and state chapter offices. She and Alvah had two children: a daughter Marguerite (1889-1974), and a son, Palmer(1897-1987).
After Lizzie died in 1938, Alvah left town and lived in the home of his daughter Marguerite Palmer McGee in Dorchester, MA. He died two years later, both Alvah and Lizzie are buried in Riverside Cemetery.
Their daughter Marguerite married in town in 1912 the real estate agent Walter McGee(1889-1966) and they moved to Dorcester, Mass. They had three children: a son Hamilton B. McGee (1913- 2008) m. Elinor H. Meyer (1911-2006); and two daughters: Babara E McGee (1915-1999) m. Edwin Walker Currier (1912-1996); and Dorothy Dudley McGee ( 1917-1965) m. Frederick Lailer Lotterhand (1915-2001).
Their son Palmer was elected President of the first Boy Scout Club when it organized in town in 1891. He remained active in Scouting all his life. He was a talented musician playing a variety of instruments and a sought-after vocalist who went on tours with the NH College Men’s Glee Club. In town entertainments he would often play drums or horn with May Gordon on the piano. During the early part of WW I he organized drill teams for young men. He enlisted from New Hampshire College in the Navy Aviation program, graduating from College in 1920. Palmer became a chemical engineer specializing in combustion, and moved to Pittsburg, PA where he married his wife Grace Roy (1897 born in Newmarket, the daughter of Adin and Mary (Johnson) Joy. Grace was a schoolteacher. She died in 1981. They are buried in Chattanooga National Veteran’s Cemetery in Tennessee . They had two daughters: Patience Ann Place (1928 - who m. in 1951 a Mr. Dennis E Johnson (1927-1989); and Deborah Place (1937- ) who was a student in Chattanooga in 1955.
Bradford moved to Newmarket in 1870, and his Masonic relationship with Dr. Greene helped secure him a section on the first floor of Greene’s new building to open his jewelry business in 1873. He remained working here until his death at age 55 in 1901. Bradford was an active member of the Rising Star Masonic Lodge performing duties and holding Lodge offices too many to list. At the time of his death, he was Deputy Grand Master of the Masonic Grand Lodge of the State of New Hampshire and very well known throughout the state.
He had been on the town school committee and in 1899 he served as chairman when he resigned due to health concerns. Although he had resigned from the school committee, in 1900 he was instrumental in creating under the Grange Law of 1898, the town’s first School District Supervisory Union. It included the towns of Newmarket, Durham, and Alton (yes, Alton – not a misprint). The committee hired Professor George H. Witcher of Durham as the first Superintendent of Schools for the District. When Bradford died of consumption, he was widely praised as a true “Christian gentleman”; a man who was honest, kind and hated shams and hypocrisy.
He was a charter member of the Pioneer Lodge #1, Knights of Pythias, and was involved in Newmarket’s first grand Knights of Pythias parade June 1896 which ended with a banquet, a horse race and ball game at the Hall Driving Park. It was a whole day affair with speeches, recitals, concerts and sporting events.
He and his family were members of the Baptist Church Society. The year before his death, his brother Hosea Kingman, the County District Attorney of Plymouth and Norfolk Counties, Mass. died at age 57.
He grew up in Bridgewater, Mass. attended Adelphian Academy and learned the married there in August 1868. When he married Helen Mitchell (1848-1910) he was self-employed in the jewelry profession. He and Helen had one child Bela Kingman who joined his father in the jewelry trade.
Bela Kingman was born in Bridgewater, MA, in the fall of 1860 and died in Boston in December 1942. During that time, he was a 70-year resident of town, mostly remembered as a popular merchant and family man in Newmarket, eventually becoming one the town’s most respected residents. He followed in his father’s footsteps as a professional jeweler and as a highly decorated Mason. When his father died, Bela took over his father’s business and continued to sell jewelry until he retired. By 1914 the building became widely referred to as “Kingman’s Rexall Store” when pharmacist Albert Sands joined the Rexall franchise.
At Bela’s jewelry counter, he sold precious gems and repaired clocks and watches. Bela was perhaps the longest Masonic Worshipful Master, he held the gavel for 30 years between 1869-1899. The year before he died he received the Mason’s 50-year jewel award, and was the Grand Treasurer of the Masonic Grand Lodge of New Hampshire. He served on many Mason State committees, including Demolay and as trustee of the Masonic Home in Manchester.
On June 15, 1898, he married Anne Meader from Durham, NH. She was very involved in the Civic Department of the Newmarket’s Woman’s Club, The couple had two children: Bradford M. and Helen (Mrs. John Guyer).
The Tom & Lavinia Thumb Story
Bela’s cousin was the very talented singer, dancer and performer Lavinia Warren who was a short person married to Charles Stratton AKA Tom Thumb. The couple were the toast of Europe, guests of royalty and occasional visitors to town. Bela even persuaded Tom Thumb to send his theatrical troup to perform at the Town Hall for a charity event in August 1879.
To read more of General Tom Thumb and Lavinia’s visits to Newmarket, go to the Walking Tour Heading for Site # 33 subcategory -
The Tom Thumb and Bela Kingman Story, https://www.newmarketnhhistoricalsociety.org/the-walking-tour/site-no.33-86-main-st-kingman-building/the-tom-thumb-mr-kingman-story/
In 1920 Albert was a drug salesman living and working in Haverhill, Mass. After his legal troubles in Newmarket, he found employment at the outbreak of WW II working at the South Portland Shipbuilding Corporation. He and his wife Ethel (l888-1963) remained at the 3 Maple Street here in town. Mrs. Sands was an officer with the Woman’s Club, involved with the Ladies’ Aid Society of the Community Church, and PTA.
Their only child Barbara S. Sands was born in Massachusetts in 1917, graduated from New Hampshire College in 1937 and taught at Austin Cate Academy. In 1939 she was appointed by The National Youth Association to supervise various projects for girls in the seacoast region. She was also a First Aid Instructor who gave classes for the public between 1937 and 1942 in the Portsmouth Hospital. In 1940 she was living in and working for the US Government in Portsmouth. She moved to St.. Johnsbury, VT in 1942 and took a position with the Vermont Child Welfare Department.