New Hampshire Missing Places: Riverside Inn of Hooksett

Photograph from old postcard depicting the
Ayer House that sat on the site of the later
built Riverside Inn.

Riverside Inn, the focus of this story, was not the first public lodging to be famous in Hooksett. Before the American Revolution travel to this part of New Hampshire was often accomplished by boat. The boatmen and passengers would stop at inns and taverns in the area that were built near the water, with the sale of liquors being popular.  The River Road (now called Riverside Drive) that ran alongside the Merrimack River became part of the prominent Merrimack Valley Road system, an early main route between Manchester, Concord and the White Mountains.

Around 1908 William H. Hurd, a hotel owner and “sporting man,” built and ran the Riverside Inn in Hooksett for a decade before it burned down. The building sat on the bank of the Merrimack River, across the street from the current Robie’s County Store, on the opposite side of River Road, approximately where the current Grange Hall sits and spanning the location of the current highway overpass. An earlier hotel called Ayer House had previously been located here.

Passengers arriving near the Riverside Inn
in Hooksett NH.

Some passengers would arrive from Manchester New Hampshire by riverboat, docking near the “Lilac Bridge” and climbing the stairs to enter at the back of the Inn. The hotel was a tourist attraction that drew attention and income to this small farming town. The owner Billy Hurd had many professional connections and as a result he was able to draw groups, such as the National Grange, to hold their regional events at his inn.

The 1993 Hooksett Town Report published a concise history of the Riverside Inn, researched and compiled by Evelyn Howe of the Historical Society and it is reprinted here:

Old postcard showing the dining hall in the
Riverside Inn of Hooksett NH.

1993 Town report: RIVERSIDE INN 1907-1917
This year’s front and back cover of the Annual Town Report are pictures of the Riverside Inn and 35-passenger boat used by City dwellers to get to the inn.

The Riverside Inn was built, owned and operated by William Hurd and replaced the old Ayer House which was destroyed by fire in 1906. The inn was built slightly south of where the Ayer House stood. The foundation was built of concrete blocks and the building itself was three and one-half stories high (no zoning laws then!!!). The two upper stories were decorated with stucco cement inlaid work (front cover).

Old postcard showing the Riverside Inn’s office
and billiard room.

To the right of the main building was an auto garage and stables, both built of cement blocks from foundation to roof. An ice house capable of holding 200 tons of ice was also built. The rooms inside were elegantly furnished, and were heated with steam heat. For the accommodation of Manchester patrons, a 35-passenger boat made regular trips between Amoskeag Falls and the Riverside Inn (back cover).

In the beginning, it was planned that the inn would have use of the Pinnacle tower observatory and the wooden tower was going to be replaced with block cement, but this never came about.

Old postcard of Robie’s Store that was located
across the street from the Riverside Inn.

The Riverside Inn lasted for ten years and was totally destroyed by fire in April of 1917. The Odd Fellows hall occupies approximately the same spot on Riverside Street in the Village.   [end of Town Report]

The Inn was probably the most modern inn in the town for that day with in-suite baths, and telephones throughout. The garage would have provided for both horses and automobiles. An advertisement from one of the local travel books shows the prices charged at Riverside Inn: Single Rooms $1.50, With Bath $2.00. Double Rooms cost $2.00, and $3.00 with a bath. Club Breakfasts and Dinners were offered, along with a Cafe a la Carte.

William H. “Billy” Hurd was quite a fascinating character apart from his ownership of the Riverside Inn. Before building the Riverside Inn he had owned the New City Hotel in Manchester, NH. [SEE 1905 in Timeline below]. He was known as a “sporting man” which meant he liked to gamble and it is said that he was a well known “bookie” in the Southern New Hampshire area and beyond. A partial genealogy of his family and additional details of his life follow.

–TIMELINE of the RIVERSIDE INN–

1896: Hooksett was mostly a seasonable (summer) destination. The published hotels and inns of Hooksett this year were Ayer House (Horace Barney), Otterson House (John I. Otterson), and Elm House (Wyatt Kelly). Others who offered rooms to let as summer resorts in the town included Horace H. Parker, Henry C. Carbee, and Rufus Fuller.

1900: William H. Hurd, of the New City Hotel, Manchester NH is distributing among his patrons a souvenir in form of an aluminum comb in leather case for the vest pocket. [The Hotel/Motor Hotel Monthly, 1900.

Advertisement for the Riverside Inn, Hooksett
NH from the 1910 Automobile blue book

1905: [The Horse Review, Vol 31] “When the announcement was made first of the week that “Billy” Hurd, the noted Manchester N.H. sporting man was going to sell his New City hotel in that city under the hammer there was much comment as to the reason as “Billy” was known to be making plenty of money in the hotel. I was told yesterday the reason was that “Billy” was going to migrate to Washington where he is interested in a million-dollar hotel soon to be constructed in the square where a new union railroad station is to be erected. He expects that this new place of business will be ready in two years. My first acquaintance with “Billy” was about twenty years ago. A few years previous to that he gained considerable fame as the champion feather weight boxer of his state. Having saved his coin, he placed it in a small saloon in one of the side streets in Manchester. With his increase in funds he entered the ranks of the foremost sporting men in his section. Let it be remembered that there was no gamer men ever entered a race track than George Conners and “Billy” Hayes of Manchester, and from Concord, N.H., “Nat” Jenkins and “Lo” Currier. But “Billy” Hurd’s speculations almost invariably turned out on the right side of the ledger. He was proverbially lucky. The hardest setback he ever got was when Fitzsimmons defeated Corbett for the championship. “Billy” journeyed to Carson City to see the bout and wagered so heavily on the result that he was compelled to wire home for funds to return with. In backing a horse “Billy” was “from Missouri,” as he had to be shown, and when satisfied he would go to the limit. Those who claim to know say that today he can count his money into the six figures. His hosts of friends hope that he will continue on the right side of his new venture–catering to the wishes of congressmen and senators.Of the other four mentioned three are living. “Nat” Jenkins died in the Concord Insane Asylum and George Conners is in a very bad way. “Lo” Currier and “Billy” Hayes are running saloons in their respective cities, but Dame Fortune has never smiled on them as she has on the ex-midget fighter.”

Photograph of the Riverside Inn from the 1981
Hooksett Town Report.

1907: On 3 October the town of Hooksett held a special meeting to exempt William H. Hurd’s hotel property, known as Riverside Inn, to be built in said town, exempt from property tax.

1909: Public Telephone Pay Stations:Hooksett NH, G.A. Robie & Son, Melrose House. Riverside Inn. Shirley Farm.

1910: The women clerks formed an association under the name of Amoskeag Lady Clerk’s club, the first banquet being held at Riverside Inn, October 13. In January of 1913 this club was reorganized and renamed the Amoskeag Woman’s Textile Club. [The Amoskeag Manufacturing Co of Manchester NH a History; 1915.]

1910: Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Winchester Childs gave a reception and dance for their Silver (25th) Anniversary at the Riverside Inn, Hooksett to some 60 relatives and friends. [Brattleboro (VT) Reformer, 4 Nov 1910]

1913: The National Grange, Patrons of Husbandry held their convention in New Hampshire with more than 15,000 visitors. A banquet for the delegates and officers of the convention was held at the Riverside Inn, Hooksett during its second week.

1916: Special Agent James H. Campbell of the Hartford Fire had his headquarters at the Riverside Inn, Hooksett. In this year he moved to Portland, Maine.

1917: Concord Fire Department reports.April 17, 1917. 6.55 a.m. Riverside Inn at Hooksett destroyed. In response to a call for assistance. Combination 1 responded but could do little outside of protecting nearby buildings. [from City of Concord Annual Report]

I would like to thank Jim Sullivan of the Hooksett Historical Society, and Dara Bradds of the Hooksett Public Library for their assistance in writing this story.

—PARTIAL HURD/HERD/HEARD GENEALOGY—

Capt John Heard (1612-1688) & Elizabeth Hull, [Great Pilgrim Migration]Housewright or caprenter, built many houses in and around York and Dover. He served on the Grand Jury at Saco Maine on 25 June 1640.He m circa 1642 York Maine Elizabeth Hull, dau of Rev. Joseph & Joanna (Coffin) Hull. She died 30 Nov 1706. On 12 June 1648, John Heard, carpenter, sold to John Parker, his house and all his lands in Georgianna, soon  after he took up residence on Campernown’s island, at the mouth fo the Piscataqua River where he built a house for Francis Campernown. Elizabeth (Hull) Heard escaped the Cocheco massacre.
——————-
Children of Capt John & Elizabeth (Hull) Heard:
1. Benjamin Heard, b 20 Feb 1643/44; m1) Elizabeth Roberts; m2) Ruth Eastman
2. William Heard, b 1645, d. 1 Nov 1675. Left a widow, no children.
3. Katherine Heard, b. 1647, died young.
4. Mary Heard, b 26 January 1649/50, d. 7 Dec 1706; m. John Ham
5. Abigail Heard, b. 2 Aug 1651 Dover NH. Was living in 1687. She m1)Jenkin Jons/Jones who d. before July 1715. She m2d) Jacob Allen. She m3d) Jonathan Merrow/Merry.
6. Elizabeth Heard, b 15 Sep 1653; She m1) James Newte/Nute Jr.; m2d) William Furber
7. Hannah Heard, b. 25 November 1655; m. John Nason
8. John Heard, b. 24 Feb 1658/59; m. Elsie Allen; resided Piscataway and later Woodbridge, New Jersey
9. Joseph Heard, b. 4 January 1660 Dover NH; probably died young
10. Samuel Heard b 4 August 1663; m. Experience Otis
11. Dorcas Heard b 1665; m. Jabez Garland
12. +Tristram [Trustrom] Heard, b. 4 March 1666; m. Abigail –.
13. Nathaniel Heard, b 20 Sep 1668; m. Sarah —

—–Next Generation—–

Tristram Hurd, son of Capt. John & Elizabeth (Hull) Heard was born 4 March 1666 Dover NH and died 8 May 1734. He was called “Lieut.” He married (1690) to Abigail —- who may have been the daughter of either Elder William Wentworth or William Waldern. He was one of the original whole share proprietors of Rochester, New Hampshire by the charter, dated May 10, 1722, he was allotted Lot 48. His will mentions children Joseph
———————————-
Children of Tristram & Abigail (?) Heard:
1. +Joseph Heard b 15 Feb 1692; m. Rebecca Richards [38]
2. Tristram Heard b 26 March 1695; m. Jane Snell
3. Nathaniel Heard b 23 January 1696; m. Margaret Warren
4. John Heard b 1 January 1700; m. Charity Day
5. Abigail Heard, b. 15 April 1702; m1) Jonathan Wentworth; m2) John Whitehouse
6. Samuel Heard b 28 Feb 1703/4; m. Dorcas —
7. Elizabeth Heard b 8 Feb 1706/7; m. Robert Knight
8. Mary Heard b 10 June 1709; m. John Warren
9. Keziah Heard b 1 Dec 1712, d. 5 Aug 1773; m1) Spencer Wentworth. She m2d) Capt. Thomas Pierce. No issue

—–Next Generation—–

Joseph Hurd, son of Tristram & Abigail (Wentworth/Waldron) Heard was born 15 Feb 1692 Dover NH and d. 27 June 1746 Rochester NH. He m 9 Aug 1722 Newington NH to Rebeca Richards of that town. They were both baptized 3 Juy 1726 in Dover NH and she was admitted to the church in Rochester NH 25 Feb 1739. On 27 June 1746 Joseph Heard, Joseph Richards, John Wentworth and Gershom Downs were killed by Indians on the main road about 2 miles from the foot of the town.
————-
Children of Joseph & Rebecca (Richards) Hurd:
1. Joseph Heard, bapt 28 Sep 1728 Dover NH; m. —
2. Rebecca Heard, bapt 23 Aug 1730, Dover NH
3. +Tristram Heard, bapt 10 April 1757 Rochester NH (older than Benjamin, perhaps oldest child. Married Elizabeth —- [136]
4. Benjamin Heard bapt 16 August 1741 Rochester NH, married Phebe —

—–Next Generation—–

Tristram Hurd, son of  Joseph & Rebecca (Richards) Hurd, b 1735-38, bapt 10 April 1757 Rochester NH. Probably the Tristram Hurd living in New Durham Gore, NH in 1790. He died 10 March 1829, aged 91 years on farm in Rochester NH where he first settled. He married probab abt 1765 in NH to Elizabeth –. She b. 1737 and d. 1823-26. He removed to Barnet VT in 1787 and bought 200 acres of land (where Nathaniel Roy later lived) for which he paid $600. SEE History of Barnet, Vermont. They are buried West Barnet Cemetery, West Barnet VT.
———————————-
In 1790 on census of New Durham Gore, Strafford Co. NH
5 free white males under 16
2 Free white males 16 and over
1 free white female
TOTAL: 8 people
———————–
Children of Tristram & Elizabeth (?) Hurd:
1. Rebecca Hurd, bpt 10 April 1756 ; m. Nathaniel Bickford
2. Nathaniel Heard bapt 27 July 1760
3. Hannah Hurd, bapt 6 May 1764; m. Josiah Nutter Rollins, the son of Edward-3 and Elizabeth (Nutter) Rollins [102x]
4. +Tristram Hurd bapt 13 July 1766; m. — Perkins
5. Abigail Hurd, bpt 2 Oct 1768; m. Anthony Nutter Rollins, the son of Edward-3 and Elizabeth (Nutter) Rollins [see 102x]
6. Elizabeth Hurd, b. 1771 prob Rochester NH, bapt 28 July 1776; d. 31 Dec 1842 age 71, at Barnet Center VT. She m. James Buchanan. He b. 4 Jan 1762, d. 6 Jan 1831; buried Barnet Center VT. Children: Sarah, Jennet, James Jr., Elizabeth, Margaret, Peter, Annabel, Rebecca and Hannah [m. Hastie].
5. Sarah Hurd/Heard, bapt 2 Aug 1778; m. Alexander Roy

—–Next Generation—–

Tristram Hurd Sr. baptized 13 July 1776; m — Perkins. On June 24, 1797 Tristram Hurd and his wife presented a certificate of membership in the Congregational Church at Rochester NH.
————————-
In 1790 on census of New Durham Gore, Strafford Co. NH
5 free white males under 16
2 Free white males 16 and over
1 free white female
TOTAL: 8
———————–
Children of Tristram Hurd & ? (Perkins) Hurd Sr.: [prob more children]
1. +Tristram Hurd Jr. b 1793 Rochester NH

—–Next Generation—–

Tristan/Tristram Hurd Jr. was born 1793 in Rochester NH and died in Manchester NH 30 Nov 1865, aged 75-76 in Manchester NH. In the 1833 Dover NH Directory he is listed as a laborer living at 50 Payne Street. He settled in Manchester NH in 1842 and spent the remainder of his life there. In 1846 he is in the Manchester NH City directory living on Central Street. He was a painter and a long time in the employ of the Amoskeag Mills. He served in the War of 1812 in defense of Dover (NH). He married 1 Feb 1818 to Lydia Richardson, both being of Rochester NH. She was the daughter of John & Sarah (?) Richardson, born 1797 in NH and died 6 Dec 1876 in NH. They are buried in Valley Cemetery, Manchester NH
————————
NH Genealogical Record, an Illustrated Quarterly shows
Rochester NH Marriages
1815 February 9th Trustram Heard Junr with Lydia Richardson both of Rochester
1818 February 1st, Tristram Hurd with Sarah Hurd, both of Rochester.
———————–
1860 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester
Tristen Hurd M 68 New Hampshire
Lydia Hurd F 63 New Hampshire
Charles W Hurd M 25 New Hampshire
Martha Hurd F 24 New Hampshire
Charles Hurd M 3 New Hampshire
———————–
Children of Tristan & Lydia (Richardson) Hurd:
1. Mary E. Hurd, b abt 1816; died 21 July 1893 East Kingston NH. She m. 3 Sep 1838 in Durham NH to John L. Kelley.
2. Lavinia/Lavina H. Hurd, b abt 1818; died 22 October 1892 in East Kingston NH. She married 28 Dec 1842 in NH to Benjamin H. Tilton.
3. +Charles W. Hurd, b. 24 July 1835 Durham NH

—–Next Generation—–

Charles W. Hurd b 24 July 1835 Durham NH, son of Tristam and Lydia (Richardson) Hurd d 12 May 1899 Manchester NH; m. 11 Sep 1854 Martha Augusta Farnum/Farnham, daughter of Asa & Martha (?) Farnham. She was born abt 1836 in Concord/Tilton NH and died 25 November 1899, aged 63 in Manchester NH of traumatic tetanus. Placed in Valley Tomb 28 Nov 1899.
————————
From: Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire, Vol 4. 1908, page 1814. Charles W., only son and third child of Tristam and Lydia Hurd was born in Durham, July 24, 1835 and died in Manchester [NH] May 12, 1899. At the age of seven years he was brought to Manchester by his parents, and at seventeen made a voyage to China in a sailing vessel. After his return home he learned painting and frescoing, and was employed for many years in the pain works of the Manchester Mills, and was superintendent of the painting department of the Manchester Print Works to 1885. On the very day Fort Sumter was fired on, April 19, 1861, he enlisted in the First Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, was mustered in May 2, as sergeant, and mustered out August 9, 1861. He again enlisted August 19, 1861 as a private in Company G., Fourth New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, was appointed first lieutenant September 20, 1861, commissioned September 18, 1861 as lieutenant, and served until March 20, 1862, when he resigned. April 28, 1863 he enlisted at Boston Massachusetts for one year as a landsman. He served on the United States ships “Ohio” “Princeton” and “Memphis” and was discharged July 26, 1864 as a mater at arms from the receiving ship at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his term of service having expired. He married Martha A. Farnham, born at Tilton, New Hampshire daughter of Asa and Martha Farnham of Tilton, who died November 6, 1890. They had three children: Viola who died in infancy; Charles Asa who died at the age of twenty-seven years; and William H., the subject of the next paragraph [see below.]
————————
Tetanus Causes Death. Demise of Mrs. Martha A. Hurd at her home in Manchester. MANCHESTER N.H. Nov 25–One of the most worthy women of Manchester died this afternoon at the family residence, 13 Jane st., in the person of Martha A. Hurd, aged 63 years. The primary cause of death was an accidental fall sustained Nov 13, injury being inflicted to her right arm by a sliver from a lilac bush being run into it. The sliver broke off in the arm and it was not discovered to be there until Thursday, when a piece two and a half inches long and one- quarter inch in thickness was taken out. In the meantime blood poisoning and lockjaw set in. The deceased was a native of Concord and widow of Charles W. Hurd. She leaves one son, William H. Hurd, proprietor of the New City hotel; one sister, Mrs. George A. Clark of this city, and three brothers, William G., of this city, James A. of South Bend, Neb., and William H. of Meredith. She affiliated with the Unitarian church and was a woman of the largest generosity and noblest impulses.
————————
Children of Charles W. & Martha Augusta (Farnum/Farnham) Hurd:
1. Viola Arabella Hurd, b. 1855, d. 1855
2. Charles A. Hurd, b. 1857 NH; d. 1884
3. +William Hursey Hurd, b July 1863 NH

—–Next Generation—–

William Hursey Hurd, son of Charles W. & Martha Augusta (Farnum) Hurd, b 22 July 1863 NH and died 14 February 1929 in Worcester MA. He married 15 Jan 1891 in Manchester NH to Alice Bell Knowlton, daughter of James & Mary Frances (Marshall) Knowlton. She b. 1864 and d 1949. By 1920 they had moved to Worcester MA and were running a hotel there. According to findagrave, one of Manchester NH’s best known early gambler and bookie. They are buried in Valley Cemetery, Manchester NH.
———–
From: Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire, Vol 4. 1908, page 1814.  William Hursey, youngest child of Charles and Martha A. (Farnham) Hurd was born in Manchester July 22, 1863. After attending the Manchester schools for a while, he went, at the age of twelve years, as newsboy on the Concord Railroad, where he remained two years. He then learned the printer’s trade, at which he worked several years in various places, first in the office of the Manchester Union; then on the Chicago Inter-Ocean; the Savannah (Georgia) New; Jacksonville (Florida) Times; and in Boston, Massachusetts. From 1883 to 1885 he was employed in a retail establishment in Boston. In the latter year he returned to Manchester, and in June bought a fine cafe which he carried on until 1902. In 1897, he bought the New City Hotel of Manchester, where he had a flourishing trade until 1905, when he retired from active business. He is an admirer of fine horses, and has owned several fast trotters. Mr. Hurd is an agreeable companion, an entertaining talker, and a self-made man. He is a life member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and of the Order of Eagles, of Manchester. He was the first chairman of the board of trustees of Aerie No. 290, of Manchester. He is also a member of Amoskeag Veterans and the Calumet Club. He married, January 1, 1891 Alice B. Knowlton, daughter of James and Mary Frances (Marshall) Knowlton of Sutton NH. They have spent winters in southern California, Cuba, Jamaica, Porto Rico, Florida and Bermuda.
—————————-
1880 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester > 13 Jane Street
Charles W Hurd Self F 44 NH
Martha Hurd Wife F 43 NH
Charles A Hurd Son M 22 NeH
William H Hurd Son M 16 NH typesetter
Martha Farnham Mother-in-law F 71 NH
—————————
1900 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester > 1128 to 1140 Elm Street
William H. Hurd 36 Hotel Keeper
Alice B. Hurd 35 b March 1864
Ernest Stickney 35 Feb 1865 Hotel Manager
[remainder are staff or boarders]
—————————
1910 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Hooksett > So. Main Street.
Household Members:
Name Age
William H Hurd 46 Inn Keeper NH NH NH
Alice B Hurd 44 Wife
Joseph H Burnham 35 General Manager
——————————–
No known children.

*****ADDITIONAL READING*****

Hooksett (NH) Historical Society

Early Inns of Hooksett NH, and other history

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3 Responses to New Hampshire Missing Places: Riverside Inn of Hooksett

  1. Amy says:

    Funny the trick my eyes played—I thought it lasted until 2017 and thought how sad that it lasted so long only to be destroyed by fire. But I guess it didn’t last very long at all. Fortunately no one was killed in that fire. Still sad.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Amy, thank you for reading and commenting. Well, if you look at the Google street view link, you can see that the highway crosses right over where the building would have been. When that highway was built, many houses were razed, farms divided etc. It was the 1960s and those were the days when historic properties were turned into parking lots. History was passe and travel was more important. So in my estimation, if the building had survived that long, it would have been torn down to make way for automobiles anyway.

      • Amy says:

        It is amazing how our attitudes have shifted and we now look at these things so differently. Thank goodness some places preserved their history like Boston and Portsmouth and Providence. Hartford is SO ugly after urban “renewal.” It is a soulless city.

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