New Hampshire Tidbits: Concord’s Bridges Mansion

Photograph of the Bridges House from the National Historic Register.

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].

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New Hampshire Missing Places: The Whittier Pine of Center Harbor

Photograph of the Whittier Pine on Sunset Hill, Center Harbor, NH. Granite State Monthly magazine, v.30. 1901: Jan.-June. HathiTrust

It had been called the Whittier Pine.  The famed poet John Greenleaf Whittier had his own personal name for this great tree–Wood Giant.  It was located on land near the Sturtevant Farm on Route 25B/Dane Road, Center Harbor NH.

[Editor’s note: in my original posting of this story, in error I combined this tree’s history with that of the Sturtevant Pine, that is entirely a different tree; see comments by Karen Ponton and my thanks to her for the correction.]

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The Celebrated Ventriloquist and Professor of Legerdemain & Namesake of Potter Place, New Hampshire: Richard Potter (1783-1835)

Graphic from "Crisis" (1910) by William E.B. Du Bois, NY, page 126

Graphic from “Crisis” (1910) by
William E.B. Du Bois, NY, page 126 on the Internet Archive.

I was reading a 1968 article in the Nashua Telegraph about how Potter Place, New Hampshire is reportedly haunted.  I suppose anywhere mankind has lived and died is haunted–Potter Place not less so.

Besides, the official New Hampshire state marker #54 unequivocally states that Richard Potter was a “19th Century master of the Black Arts.”  Does this mean he really performed black magic, or was he, instead, a black man who performed regular magic?  I believe the latter. It just goes to show you that you can’t trust those state markers.

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Inventor of America’s First Automobile–Maybe: George Alvin Long (1850-1951)

G.A. Long's Steam Road Vehicle patent of 10 July 1883 from Google Patents

G.A. Long’s Steam Road Vehicle patent of 10 July 1883 from Google Patents

When it comes to who built America’s first automobile, the discussion becomes as overheated as a car climbing New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. The answer comes down to the details.

What is the definition of an automobile, other than being self-propelled? Does it need to be gasoline powered, or would steam-power qualify it for first place? Does it need to have four wheels, or will three do?

What would you accept as proof of the earliest–a patent, a newspaper clipping, a photograph? If you search the internet, or review a book on early automobiles, you will see conflicting stories and a long list of people claiming to have been the very first. Instead of arguing these points, I’ll simply tell you George Alvin Long’s fascinating story. Continue reading

Manchester New Hampshire’s Military Squares and other Memorials

Whether you walk, or drive through Manchester New Hampshire’s neighborhoods, it is impossible to not become aware of the many statues, markers and commemoratives (such as named parks or buildings) dedicated to its military heroes. With Memorial Day (May 26, 2014) quickly approaching, it is timely for me to focus on some of these.

Who shall chide us, if we in like spirit set apart one day in every year to twine our wreaths for our dead who died in battle; died not for aggrandizement by aggressive warfare; but for the preservation of national life and liberty? Who shall chide us if we pause one hour in a year to read the inscriptions on their monuments, or to drop a tear upon “nameless” graves? Not because we love them more than the rest of our dead, but because we also love the land for which they died. [Memorial Day Oration, City Hall, Dover NH by Rev. Leander S. Coan, May 26, 1876].

Stark Cemetery at Manchester NH's Stark Park. Photograph by Janice W. Brown

Stark Cemetery at Manchester NH’s Stark Park. Photograph by Janice W. Brown

Besides the larger statues and monuments, there are a number of smaller plaques that have been placed in “squares” or on public plots of land within the city limits of Manchester, New Hampshire, that we can call “Military Squares.”

In order to fully document them, first it is necessary to list them, which I will try to do with this story. If you are aware of others, or are aware of Manchester men and women who have lost their lives while in military service, please contact me, or leave a message here.
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