On Mountain Road at the east side of Concord sits a house that belongs to the State of New Hampshire, called the Bridges House. It was not built by the Bridges family, but was donated by them to be used at the discretion of the acting governor of New Hampshire. Governors are not required to live there, and actually most do not.
Sunday August 25th 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the house (as it pertains to the date it officially belonged to the State of NH as the governor’s mansion). This special event begins at 1 PM. (It is NOT free to attend as it is a fund-raising event to benefit the building. Tickets are available). [Also see on FaceBook].
Thanks to the 2004 fund raising campaign efforts of Dr. Susan Lynch a former NH First Lady, the building is being kept in good shape inside and out, and used for events through donations of the “Friends of Bridges House.” Other New Hampshire First Ladies such as Kathy Gregg and Nancy Sununu were also early supporters of preserving this house.
The house was a former home of Senator Henry Styles Bridges (and his wife Deloris and family) R-NH who was a four-time U.S. Senator during the Eisenhower Administration. He had also served as New Hampshire’s 63rd governor. In 1961 through his will donated his home to the State of New Hampshire to be used as a governor’s residence. His wife who was still living at the time was allowed to live out her days there, and upon her death in 1969 the State of New Hampshire accepted the building.
During the years the house has been the setting of many official New Hampshire state functions and governor-approved special events. Former President Ronald Reagan spent the night there. In 1986 New Hampshire’s Attorney General determined that as it is a governor’s residence, and not a public building, the governor or his designee has the right to invite whom they choose to visit or keep out whomever they choose. In April of 1971 a tea was given here by Mrs. Walter Peterson, then the state’s first Lady, held to honor New Hampshire’s women political solons.
The mansion is an eight-room brick colonial, and is believed to be one of the oldest homes in Concord. It is listed on both the New Hampshire and National Register of Historic Places. The house technically should properly be called the Graham House, for Charles Graham, a talented joiner who built the house between 1837-1843 in the Greek Revival Style. It was one of the first brick structures built in Concord, New Hampshire, and it was where Charles Graham, his wife Lucy Ames (Cogswell) Graham [see photos] and his two children Charles and Mary Elizabeth Graham resided.
In addition to being a woodworker, Charles Graham was also a farmer who won prizes for his working oxen and for the good quality of his wheat at the Merrimack County Agricultural Fair from 1852-1874. An 1866 Independent Democrat newspaper stated that he grew a prized pumpkin weighing 65 pounds. Charles Graham was the son of Asa & Rachel (Morse) Graham, born at Concord NH on 3 November 1809, and died at his home in East Concord on 11 June 1880. [See his genealogy below].
Before Charles Graham owned bought the property and build his manse, the land had belonged to Lieut. Joshua Thompson, a Revolutionary War soldier who had built his own gambrel house on the property years earlier (Thompson’s house was still standing in 1874, and was built opposite the Union School House).
After Joshua Thompson and before Charles Graham, owners included Ebenezer Eastman, an early settler who ran Eastman’s Ferry, later named Tucker’s Ferry (after Lemuel Tucker a later owner) across the Merrimack River before the Federal Bridge was built. Ebenezer Eastman died in 1748. [Editor’s Note: No! Ebenezer Eastman was NOT the first settler of Concord. His was the first FAMILY to settle there, after the initial shelters were built. Henry Rolfe and Richard Urann were the first settlers whose names are known, are well documented, and who almost died that first winter as they worked to get the land ready for more settlers, including the Eastmans who arrived the following Spring.]
Later a family of stone-cutters resided there. According to the application to include the building on the National Register of Historic Places, in the mid-1890s Mr. and Mrs. Alfred H. Bath bought the property and the Bath family lived there for a few generations. [Editor’s note: In fact the Bath family were stone-cutters and granite workers]. The Bridges Family bought the home from Bath family in 1946.
The Bridges House [Concord NH]
*PARTIAL GENEALOGY OF CHARLES GRAHAM (Bridges House builder)*
Asa Graham, born 3 Nov 1771 Concord NH, son of George & Azubah (?Austin) Graham. He m1) 8 June 1794 in NH to Sally West. He m2d) 27 September 1798 in Chester NH to Rachel Morse. She was born 20 July 1778 and d. 19 June 1813. He m3d) 29 Dec 1813 in NH to Sarah Sinclair.
Child of Asa & Azubah Graham:
1. Azubah Chandler Graham, born about 1795 NH, d. 1873 Concord NH. She married Hazen Virgin.
Children of Asa & Rachel (Morse) Graham:
1. Sally Graham
2. George Graham, b. abt 1802 in NH; m. 1 January 1825 in Portsmouth NH to Lucia Thorn.
3. Joseph Graham, b. abt 1805, died 12 Feb 1886, Concord NH, aged 81y; m. 25 Nov 1830 in Concord NH to Lucinda G Lovering, daughter of Jesse & Polly (Taylor) Lovering. She was born in Loudon NH, and died 9 Jan 1887 in Concord NH.
4. +Charles Graham, b. 3 Nov 1809 in Concord NH.
Charles Graham, son of Asa & Rachel (Morse) Graham, was born 3 November 1809 in Concord NH and he died 11 June 1880 in Concord NH. Charles Graham married 16 Sep 1835 in Canterbury NH to Lucy Ames Cogswell, daughter of Amos & Polly (Forrest) Cogswell. She was born 2 March 1813 in Canterbury NH, and died 22 July 1895 in Penacook NH, aged 82. [SEE her photograph above]. They are buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Concord NH. In 1882 Lucy was the executrix of her husband’s estate and their home [now called the Bridges Mansion] was put up for sale. [see notice above]
6 Nov 1869 Saturday, Mirror and Farmer, Manchester NH, p8. DIED In Boscawen, Oct 23, after a brief illness of typhoid fever, Mrs. Mary E., wife of John Chadwick, and only daughter of Mr. Charles Graham, of East Concord, aged 26 years and 6 months.
In life she trusted in the Lord,–in the same faith she died. A faithful, devoted wife and daughter, a true sister and friend. Possessing rare qualities of mind and heart, she was earnest in her efforts to make a pleasant, happy
home, ever seeking to promote the happiness and well being of those around her. As in life she was good and true, so in death was she beautiful.
Children of Charles & Lucy Ames (Cogswell) Graham:
1. Charles C. Graham, b 15 June 1839 Concord, Merrimack Co. NH. He died 30 June 1901 Concord NH. Single. Occupation, Farmer. Buried Pine Grove Cemetery, Concord NH.
2. Mary Elizabeth Graham, b 20 April 1843 Concord NH. She married 21 June 1867 in Concord NH to John Chadwick, son of Laban Chadwick of Boscawen NH. She died 23 October 1869 in Boscawen NH, and is buried in Maplewood Cemetery, Boscawen NH.
*PARTIAL GENEALOGY OF LIEUT. JOSHUA THOMPSON*
(His heirs sold the land to the Bridges House builder)
Lieut. Joshua Thompson was born about 1750 in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Joshua Thompson m. 24 Nov 1785 in Pembroke NH to Sally Davis. [They were both residents of Concord at the time]. She was b. 10 Oct 1767 in Concord NH, daughter of Robert & Sarah (Walker) Davis, and died 20 January 1823 in East Concord NH. He died 6 April 1831 at his home in East Concord, NH. They are buried in Old Fort Cemetery, East Concord NH. His property, as part of his estate, was put up for auction on 31 Dec 1831 [SEE auction notice above]. It was probably at this time that Charles Graham purchased the property. Lieut Joshua Thompson had a long military history during the American Revolution. He was in military service as early as 10 Oct 1775 when he is recorded in Capt. Reid’s Co. in Col. Stark’s Regiment [additional information just below].
New-Hampshire Gazette, 4 Feb 1823, Portsmouth NH. DIED. In Concord, Mrs. Sarah Thompson, aged 56, wife of Mr. Joshua Thompson. At a much later date the local Sons of the American Revolution erected a monument in the Old Fort Cemetery at East Concord that includes names of 13 soldiers including Joshua Thompson (whom they call an aide to Gen. Lafayette).
Extract of Report of the Adjutant General of the State of NH: “Joshua Thompson was from Londonderry. He was appointed ensign Capt Ebenezer Frye’s company Nov 8 1776. He was promoted to lieutenancy March 5, 1778 and was paymaster of the regiment for a time. He settled in what is now East Concord after the war. [Editor’s note: 1st Lt on 30 Aug 1779 and served until the end of the war.] He was a quiet, unobtrusive citizen of much responsibility. In 1824 when Gen. Lafayette visited Concord he paid Lieut. Thompson the rare compliment of a visit to his house, the lieutenant being unable, on account of age, to join in the ceremonies in honor of the Marquis.”