Concord New Hampshire’s State House – Celebrating 195 Years

The original title of this story was “Concord New Hampshire’s State House – Celebrating 187 Years,” and it was first published on November 2, 2006. In 2014 I have updated the article, since the building is now celebrating its 195th year.

Prior to the American Revolution, Exeter was the undoubted “capital” of New Hampshire. In 1778 New Hampshire’s first Constitutional Convention was held at Concord, New Hampshire’s Old North Church for a total of seven sessions. It was the meeting place of the legislature in 1782. By 1788 Concord had become the generally acknowledged capital of New Hampshire.


Photograph of the meeting room for the house of
representatives of New Hampshire’s General Court,
taken by Ron Cillizza.

Concord New Hampshire’s meetinghouse and then its town house accommodated the General Court starting around 1792, but by 1814 it had become inadequate for the purposes of a state house.  A committee was created to make recommendations for its creation.  An estimate of thirty-two thousand dollars was required to build this structure, according to an offer made by Stuart J. Park. Another committee was created to determine its location. There was disagreement over this, and it is said that then Governor William Plumer, (who happens to be yet another distant cousin of mine)  waited until one of his councilors was absent, to force a vote agreeing with his personal selection. Thus was the current site of the State House fixed.

The plot on which the new state house was to be built was about two acres in size.  The house of Captain Peter Robinson, on the northeast corner, was sold and moved to Pleasant Street.  The Friend’s meeting-house, on another section was transferred to State Street, north and near the burying ground. Local New Hampshire granite was used in building the structure, and it was cut by convicts at the state prison, under the oversight of John Park Gass, nephew of the chief architect (and later a taverner of Concord).  On the September 24, 1816 the corner-stone of the building was laid. The quarries of the celebrated Concord granite were located on Rattlesnake Hill [Rattlesnake Hill is sometimes known as Granite Hill.  The quarry lies west of today’s North State Street about two miles north of downtown Concord. ‘So called on account of the snakes of this species that formerly had their dens here,’ per Bouton’s History.]

By July 1818, the building was somewhat completed.  The gilded eagle was raised to its place in the state house dome with public ceremony and processions.  Refreshments were served and toasts were drunk amid cheers and the firing of cannon.  Bands “played appropriate airs.”  The thirteenth and final toast was: “The American eagle–May the shadow of his wings protect ever acre of our united Continent, and the lightning of his eye flash terror and defeat through the ranks of our enemies.”

The work went forward until 1819 with the total cost running over the estimate, at eighty-two thousand dollars.  In June 1819 the building was completed, and the General Court began holding its sessions in this new building. The House continues to meet in these quarters, making Representatives Hall the oldest chamber in the United States still in continuous legislative use.

In 1857 the outside “privies” were removed and “water closets” were installed indoors. Originally the front walk was composed of smooth gravel, and was later replaced with cement.

Stationery from New Hampshire State House of Representatives, Concord New Hampshire 1866 showing the "New State Capitol"

Stationery from New Hampshire State House of Representatives, Concord New Hampshire 1866 showing the “New State Capitol”

Between 1864-1866 the state house was renovated after library space and rooms for new departments were needed. Completed in 1866 the renovations cost about $200,000. In 1881 the library was removed to a building of its own (the New Hampshire State Library), and also plans made for a Supreme Court.

On the 17 day of June 1886, the statue of orator Daniel Webster was placed and dedicated on the statehouse grounds. On 23 October 1890 a statue of Gen. John Stark was dedicated here.  A statue of John P. Hale was unveiled during ceremonies on August 3, 1892 also on the statehouse grounds.  The dedication of the statue of Commodore George Hamilton Perkins took place there on the 25th day of April, 1902.

In 1903 the state house was again in need of additional space and renovation. On Oct 28, 1910, there was a re-dedication of the remodeled State House. In 1938 the cornerstone for a new building was laid, to build the present State House Annex.  It is connected by an underground passage with the Capitol building.  A New Hampshire Historical Marker #66 is located at the intersection of Park Street and North Main Street (US 3) in downtown Concord.

On 25 November 1914 a statue of Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the United States, and a native New Hampshire son, was dedicated on the statehouse grounds.  In 1950 a replica of the Liberty Bell was installed in front of the statues of Daniel Webster and John Hale, on the State House front lawn.

The New Hampshire Law Enforcement Memorial was conceptualized by State Attorney General Jeff Howard in 1992, and dedicated on September 26th 1998.

See the family trees of Governor William Plumer and Stuart J. Park (the architect) below. My thanks to Ron Cillizza, for allowing me to use his photograph of the NH State House.

Janice

ADDENDUM: November 3rd: Margaret of the blog “Periodic Pearls” took some great photographs and wrote a story about the State House the day after I wrote this article, so I am including a link.

***ADDITIONAL READING***

History of the New Hampshire State House

The Evolution of the New Hampshire State House [from the Granite State Monthly]

Ron Cillizza Photographs of the NH State House

-Listen to an audio file about the History of the NH State House [New Hampshire Historical Society]-

New Hampshire’s Original State House (Portsmouth) | 2nd Story-

NH State House Art Collection

Interesting Facts

***GOVERNOR WILLIAM PLUMER GENEALOGY**

Governor William Plumer was a descendant of Francis Plumer one of the earliest settlers of Newbury MA., i.e.,  Francis Plumer > Samuel Plumer > Sylvanus Plumer > Samuel Plumer > Samuel Plumer > Governor William Plumer.

Gov. William Plumer, son of Samuel & Mary (Dole) Plumer, was b. 25 June 1759 in Newbury/Newburyport MA and d. 22 Dec 1850 in Epping NH.  He married 12 Feb 1788 to Sarah Fowler, dau of Philip & Sarah “Sally” (Shatswell) Fowler.  She b. 22 June 1762 in Newmarket, NH and d. 1 Apr 1852 in Epping NH. He was tall with a dark complexion, a long thin face, and black hair and eyes. He was a man of literary taste and wrote many papers. He was a member of many literary, historical and antiquarian societies, and he was the first president of the New Hampshire Historical Society. He was active in politics, as a member of the NH House of Representatives for several years and speaker for two years. He was State Senator for two years. He was Governor of New Hampshire in 1812, 1816, 1817 and 1818. In 1820 he was a presidential elector.
Children of William & Sarah (Fowler) Plumer:
1. William Plumer, b. 9 Feb 1789 in Epping NH; m. 13 Sep 1820 to Margaret Frost Mead. Attorney. Had 3 children, Mary Elizabeth, William and Sarah Adeline.
2. Sally Fowler Plumer, b. 17 Nov 1790 in Epping NH, d. 18 Sep 1818; m. 20 May 1816 to William Claggett.
3. Samuel Plumer, b. 19 Dec 1792 in Epping NH, attorney in Epping NH; m. 13 Apr 1820 to Mary Huse Lawrence.  Had children, Sarah Fowler, William Lawrence, Elizabeth Olivia and Nathaniel Greene.
4. George Washington Plumer, b. 4 Feb 1796 in Epping NH. He married 19 Sep 1824 in Epping NH to Betsey Plummer.  Had children, George Washington, Sarah Elizabeth, and Catherine Jay.
5. John Jay Plumer, b. 26 Dec 1799 in Epping NH, died 2 May 1849, unmarried.
6. Quintus Plumer, b. 5 May 1805 in Epping NH, d. 29 May 1805.

Likeness and Biography of Governor William Plumer

More information about Governor William Plumer

Plumercrest Bed & Breakfast in Epping NH [FaceBook page] [This was built by a grand-daughter of Gov. Plumer]-

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***PARK FAMILY GENEALOGY***

*FIRST GENERATION*

William Park, the first of this family to settle in New England was b. abt 1705, and baptized at Balornoch, a parish of Glasgow, Scotland 7 October 1705, the son of William and Janet (Reid) Park.  He became a worker in stone, and in his Massachusetts home used to carve and letter beautiful slate gravestones. He died 17 June 1788 in Groton, MA.  His grandson, Hon. Stuart James Park, describe him as “tall in stature, vigorous and athletic,” and in mind “sound and discriminating, well disciplined and educated.” He was a staunch Presbyterian. He married at Glasgow 6 May 1730 to Anna Law. She b. abt 1704 in Scotland.  Her grandson wrote of her “She was an industrious, intelligent and good woman and retained in a wonderful degree her faculties, both physical and mental, to the last of her life.”  She d. 2 Oct 1789, age 85 at Groton MA.  In 1756 leaving his wife and children, William emigrated to Boston in New England, and later to Westford MA, and about 1760 settled in that part of Groton MA, now included in the town of Ayer MA, where he spent the remainder of his life.  In 1765 his wife, and her sons James and Thomas, joined him in Massachusetts, and she was followed in 1767 by her eldest son, John, with his wife and three children. Both are buried in the Old Burying Ground of Groton MA. According to his son James’ tombstone, William was a stone cutter in Groton MA.
Children of William & Anna (Law) Park:
1. +John Park, b. 15 March 1730/31 in Glasgow Scotland
2. James Park, b 19 March 1741 Glasgow, Scotland and d. 23 Feb 1778 in Groton MA, unmarried; buried in Old Burying Ground.
3. +Thomas Park, b. abt 1745 in Glasgow, Scotland. Emigrated about 1765 to Groton MA. He married 3 May 1768 in Harvard MA to Rosanna Conn.  They had eleven children. Lived in Groton, Shirley and Harvard MA.
4. Margaret Park, m. Alexander Fisher and remained in Scotland.
5. Janet Park, unmarried, remained in Scotland.

————-
*SECOND GENERATION*

John Park, son of William & Anna (Law) Park, b. 15 March 1730/31 in Glasgow, Scotland, and died 15 August 1793, age 62. He married 2 June 1758 to Jean Stewart.  She b. 12 Feb 1731/32 in Scotland, and d. 25 April 1793, age 61. She is buried in the Old Burying Ground of Groton MA. He was also a worker in stone, “a good draftsman,” said his son, “and a very ingenious mechanic and an intelligent and judicious man.” For seven years beginning in 1760 he was employed by the Duke of Argyll in work on his castle in Inverary and in laying out the grounds of his estate.  In 1767, with his wife and his three children, John, William, and Anna (Alexander the eldest child having probably died young) he emigrated to New England, landed in Boston 17 Aug 1767 and settled in Groton, where his parents and two brothers were living.  He bought four hundred acres of land in Groton, and shortly before his death (1791) built, for his own occupancy, the first brick house in that town, on Park Street (now within the limits of Ayer MA). On the gable near the eaves at the southwest corner of the dwelling was a small slate tablet with the inscription, “J.P. 1791.” He built a stone jail at Worcester MA 1784-1788 and another at Concord MA in 1789.  And in 1793, while building a similiar structure at Amherst NH, met with an accident which resulted in his death the following day, 15 August 1793. His wife had died at Groton a few months earlier.  Like his father he was a Presbyterian.    Her tombstone reads: “In memory of Mrs. Jean Park, wife of Mr. John Park who died April 25, 1793, aet 61.” His tombstone reads: “In memory of Mr. John Park who died Augt 15, 1793, aet 62, b. abt 1731.” His sons followed their father’s trade of stonemason.
Children of John & Jean (Stewart) Park:
1. Alexander Park, b. 12 October 1739, probably died young
2. John Park, b. 1 July 1761 at St. Catharines, Argyleshire, Scotland; came to America with his parents in 1767. He married 1 June 1786 at Pepperell MA to Lydia Hamlin, dau of Capt. Eleazer and Lydia (Bonney) Hamlin.
3. William Park, b. 15 Apr 1763, d. 14 Nov 1795; m. 3 Oct 1793 to Sarah Farnsworth. One child, William Stewart Park, b. 26 Aug 1795, died young.
4. Anna Park, b. 20 June 1765 in Scotland and d. 10 Nov 1831 at Dunstable MA. She married 1786 to Edward Dunn. THey had a child William Dunn, b. March 1787.
5. Jean Park, b. 16 Nov 1767 in Groton MA; d. 14 Oct 1816 at Groton MA; m. 1 Jan 1800 to Moses Day, son of Nathaniel and Sarah (Chapman) Day of Ipswich MA. Had issue.
6. Elizabeth Park, b. 29 March 1770 in Groton MA; d. 21 Sep 1804 in Groton MA. She married 2 May 1793 at Groton MA to Thomas Gass of BUrlington VT. After her death he married 2d) Eleanor Holden.
7. +Stuart James Park, b. 7 Feb 1773 in Groton, MA.
4. Margaret Park, b. 27 Jan 1775 in Groton MA

Thomas Park, son of William & Anna (Law) Park, b. 1745 probably in Glasgow, Scotland. He came to America in 1765. He married Rosannah Conn, daughter of George and Mary Conn, at Harvard MA 3 May 1768.  They had emigrated a few years earlier from the north of Ireland where she was born in 1745.  She died at Harvard MA 28 Oct 1814. Thomas remained in Groton until about 1780, when he removed to Shirley MA.  He proably went to Harvard MA about 1765 and lived there the rest of his life. He was a stone cutter by trade. He held several town offices and in 1803 and the two following years represented Harvard in the legislature. He died at Harvard MA 8 June 1806 and is buried there. He was in the Revolutionary War in Capt. Henry Farwell’s Co, COl. Prescott Regt, which marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775. The census of 1790 shows Thomas Park residing at Harvard with 2 sons over 16, 3 sons under 16 and five females.
Children of Thomas & Rosannah (Conn) Park:
1. Mary Park, b. Feb 20, 1769; m. Abel Morse 16 Sep 1793.
2. James Park, b. 28 Sep 1770 at Groton MA, d. 9 Apr 1793, unmarried.
3. Anna Park, b. 3 Nov 1772
4. Margaret Park, b. 27 Jan 1773, d. 1 Nov 1795, unmarried
5. Thomas Park, b. 31 March 1777, d. 16 Aug 1803 unmarried
6. Elizabeth Park, b. 3 Aug 1779; twin, m. Abraham Houghton
7. William Park, b. 3 Aug 1779, twin
8. Martha Park, b. Nov 1780, died young
9. & 10. son and daughter, b. 10 Apr 1784, died young
11. John Park, b. 24 Apr 1786

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*THIRD GENERATION*

Stuart James Park, son of John & Jean (Stewart) Park, b. 7 Feb 1773 in Groton MA and d. 14 Aug 1859 in Groton MA.  He was apprenticed to his father and worked with him as a stonemason and builder until his father’s death.  He then became a builder on his own account and many prisons and other public works in New England were constructed by him [see above]. In 1796 he bought a farm at Pelham MA, but settled in Groton in 1812, built a house there, and spent his later years in the cultivation of his extensive farm in that town.  From 1817 until his death he was a justice of the peace.  He was a member of the Senate in Groton MA 1838 and 1839 and 1840 (elected November 1837). He became the wealthiest man in Groton and one of the largest landholders in Middlesex County MA.  He was a Unitarian and one of the founders of the Unitarian society in Groton in 1826.  He married 1st) 17 May 1798 to Nancy Gray dau of Ebenezer and Agnes (Barry) Gray. She b. 6 Oct 1778 in Pelham MA [see NEHGS Register 62:98], and d. 22 Dec 1803 at Groton MA.  He married 2nd) at Pelham MA 10 Sep 1804 to Catherine Taylor, dau of James and Abiah (Moore) Taylor.  She b. 11 May 1872 at Pelham NH and d. 2 August 1872 at Groton NH.
Children of Stuart J. & Nancy (Gray) Park:
1. Jane Gray Park, b. 12 March 1799, d. 3 Feb 1802.
2. +John Gray Park, b. 31 Aug 1801 in Pelham MA. He d. 23 Sep 1875 in Groton MA. He married Maria Thayer.
3. Infant, b. 22 Dec 1803, d same day
Children of Stuart J. & Catherine (Taylor) Park:
4. Infant, b. 7 Sep 1805, died young
5. Jane Park, b. 7 Aug 1806; m. Rev. Charles Robisson

*********************
*FOURTH GENERATION*

John Gray Park, son of Stuart J. & Nancy (Gray) Park, b. 31 Aug 1801 in Pelham MA. He d. 23 Sep 1875 in Groton MA. His mother died when he was 3 years old and he lived with his maternal grandfather until his father settled in Groton in 1812, and then he entered the Groton Academy, now known as Lawrence Academy. He became a merchant in Groton MA, in partnership with Henry Woods in 1822, under the firm name of Park & Woods, and then in 1835 (Mr. Woods having retired from the firm) with Luth F. Potter, under the firm name of Park & Potter.  From this firm, Mr. Park retired in 1842.  He was town clerk of Groton MA from March 1834 to March 1837, a representative in the legislature in 1836 and 1838, and  on March 7, 1853 he was a member of the Constitutional Convention of Massachusetts. He was a Whig in politics and a Unitarian in religion. He married 4 June 1829 at Boston MA (intentions at Groton MA 3 May 1829) to Maria Thayer, dau of Joel and Abba (Brastow) Thayer of Boston, a well-to-do merchant.  She b. Boston MA 18 Aug 1809 and died at Groton MA 27 Sep 1892.
Children of John G. & Maria (Thayer) Park:
1. +Charles Stuart Park, b. 26 Nov 1831 in Groton MA, d. 1893.
2. Sarah Maria Park, b. 6 April 1833 in Groton MA
3. +John Gray Park Jr., b. 3 January 1838 in Groton MA; physician of Worcester MA

************
*FIFTH GENERATION*

Charles Stuart Park, son of John G. & Maria (Thayer) Park, b. 26 Nov 1831 in Groton MA and d. 1893.  He was engaged in mercantile pursuits in Sycamore IL for a short time. He mustered into Co. E 44th regt MA Vols Aug 24, 1862 and was honorable discharged 18 June 1863. He was appointed Acting Assistant Paymaster in the U.S. Navy Oct 26, 1864 and was attached to the U.S. Chimo until the close of the war, receiving his honorable dischrage 31 Aug 1863. He then settled in Savannah GA.  He married  1 June 1870 at Bainbridge GA to Nannie Wyckliffe Yulee, dau of Elias & Rachel (Benjamin) Yulee.  She b.27 Nov 1851 in Cincinnati Ohio.
Children of Charles S. & Nannie W. (Yulee) Park:
1. Charles Stuart Park, b. 21 Jan 1872 in Savannah GA and d. 10 May 1959 in Savannah GA. He married Ophelia Dent Pritchard and had 2 ch: Ophelia and Charles Stuart Jr.
2. Edward Yulee Park, b. 1 Jan 1875. He d. 17 Dec 1944, buried Savannah GA
3. Alice Marie Park, b. 8 March 1879. She d. 3 Nov 1884, and died unmarried in 1901 in Boston MA in her 69th year. [another source says she died young]

**********
*SIXTH GENERATION*

John Gray Park Jr., son of John G. & Maria (Thayer) Park, b. 3 January 1838 in Groton MA; physician.  He died 29 August 1905 at the City Hospital in Worcester MA. He entered Lawrence Academy in Groton MA in 1845, graduated, and in the same year was admitted to Harvard, where he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1858. He was for three years a student at the Harvard Medical School, served as acting surgeon in the United States Navy from February 1862 to November 1865, and was admitted by Harvard to the degree of Doctor of medicine in 1866.  He practiced his profession for many years (1866-1890) in Worcester, where he became the first superintendent of the new City Hospital in 1871, superintendent of the Worcester Insane Asylum in 1877, and superintendent of the new Worcester Lunatic Hospital in 1879. This position he resigned, on account of ill health in 1890, and went back to his native town of Groton MA, where he made his home for the remaining years of his life.  In 1880 superintendent of Worcester Lunatic Asylum. In 1870 & 1880 census living in Worcester MA. In 1892 Governor Russell appointed him trustee of the newly established insane asylum at Medfield, and the duties of this position–he was chairman of the board of trustees.  He married  at Groton MA 22 Oct 1872 Elizabeth Bigelow Lawrence, dau of Hon. Asa Farnsworth & Sarah Jane (Bancroft) Lawrence of Groton MA. She b at Pepperell MA 9 March 1841 and died 7 March 1903 at Groton MA. He was an architect.
Child of John Gray & Elizabeth B. (Lawrence) Park:
1. +Lawrence Park, b. 16 Dec 1873 in Ayer, Middlesex Co MA.

***********
*SEVENTH GENERATION*

Lawrence Park, only child and son of John Gray & Elizabeth Bancroft (Lawrence) Park Jr., was born 16 Dec 1873 in Ayer, Massachusetts, and died 28 September 1924 in Groton MA.  Until his fourteenth year he was educated privately at home, and then was prepared for college at Fish’s (later Dalzell’s) School in Worcester MA.  He entered Harvard in September 1892, with the class of 1896 and remained there four years.  From 1896-97 he attended the School of Drawing and Painting at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, drawing form the casts and from life.  From October 1897 to July 1901 he was an architectural draftsman in the office of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge of Boston, architects.  He showed a love of architecture at an early age.  Leaving the employ of Shepley, he formed a partnership as an architect with Robert R. Kendall, under the firm name of Park & Kendall with offices at 8 Beacon Street, Boston MA. This partnership dissolved in May 1910 and afterwards Mr. Park continued in his practice alone at the same address.  In the remodeling of the First Parish Church in Groton and several private homes he gave abundant evidence of his ability.  He was a member of the Pewter Mug Club. He married at Groton MA 16 Nov 1905 to Maria Davis Motley, only child of Col. Thomas Lawrence Motley and the former Mrs. Charlotte Elizabeth (Rhoades) Head and grandniece of the historian John Lothrop Motley. She b abt 1876 in MA, and died after 1940.  In the summer of 1906 and in the following winter he prepared plans for altering and enlarging his grandfather’s house in Groton and supervised the work.  In October 1907 he moved into that house, which he called “Scottowe” and made it his permanent resident. In 1910 living in Groton MA, in 1920 in Concord MA. He prepared a sketch of his ancestor, William Park of Groton and descendants which he published in 1909 in Frank Sylvester Park’s “Parke Families of Massachusetts,” and in 1913 and 1914 contributed to the New England Hisotrical and Genealogical Reigster, “The Savage Family.”  He had an appreciation for fine art, and researched the history of early American art and the work of early American Craftsmen, contributing to “Art in America.” In 1917 he became a member of the corporation of the Worcester Art Museum, and in 1919 appointed nonresident curator of the Dept. of Colonial Art in the Cleveland (Ohio) Museum of Art. He served on committees of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. A portrait of him, by Edward Tingdale, was painted in 1919 and hung in the library at his house.
Children of Lawrence & Maria D. (Motley) Park:
1. daughter Park (stillborn), born 14 Sep 1906 in Groton, Middlesex Co. MA.
1. John Gray Park, born 15 Sep 1908 in Boston, Middlesex Co. MA. In 1930 a teacher at a private school; died 29 March 1972 in Ayer MA
2. Thomas Lawrence Motley Park born 3 Apr 1911 in Groton, MA; d. 7 May 1989 in Ayer MA
3. Eleanor Gray Park, born 8 June 1914 in Groton, Middlesex Co. MA

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SOURCES:
1. Genealogy of the Parke Families of Massachusetts by Frank Sylvester Park
2. NEHGS Register 79:3
3. Annals of the town of Concord, in the county of Merrimack, and state of New-Hampshire, from its first settlement in the year 1726, to the year 1823 : with several biographical sketches : to which is added, a memoir of the Penacook Indians by Jacob Bailey Moore; Concord N.H.: J.B. Moore, 1824
4. The history of Concord : from its first grant in 1725, to the organization of the city government in 1853, with a history of the ancient Penacooks : the whole interspersed with numerous interesting incidents and anecdotes, down to the present period, 1855 : embellished with maps, with portraits of distinguished citizens, and views of ancient and modern residences by Nathaniel Bouton; Concord N.H.: B.W. Sanborn, 1856

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