University of New Hampshire Art Gallery

Durham, NH



Boarding Houses to Summer Homes

By 1852, farming in New Hampshire had begun to decline. The younger people of towns like Dublin were being drawn away by the growth of urban centers, manufacturing towns, and the westward migration. One way for a farm family to make ends meet was to take summer boarders, and these boarders were leading families looking for summer respite from the increasingly industrialized cities. In Boston, where literature and leadership were equated, Monadnock-infused writings provided the best guide to summer places in New England

By 1860, the first of a succession of mountain houses was built on Monadnock, numbering Emerson, who had long been climbing the mountain, among the guests. The "boarding house" period continued through the early seventies, when people began to buy or build houses exclusively for summer use.

The influx of city people had a great economic impact on Dublin, as it did on other villages turned summer colonies. The purchase of land (probably at modest prices) put substantial cash into the pockets of the native population. Carpenters were in great demand for constructing new houses or renovating and improving existing ones. Starting in the 1870s, the pages of the Peterborough Transcript convey a dichotomy. On the one hand are columns filled with advice to farmers: the economical, wholesome farm life is contrasted with expensive, unhealthy town living; practical ways to make farming more productive are described, attendance at instructive lectures is encouraged. Simultaneously the Dublin column lauds new land purchases and building plans of summer people, speaks with enthusiasm of how busy local people are making many preparations for summer visitors, and gives figures for the amount of money spent by summer residents for cream and eggs and, most importantly, for taxes. Reviewing the previous year, the writer of: the Dublin column on January 9. 1896, enumerates the blessings: "The year 1895 might be reckoned a prosperous one. The public health has been good, crops reasonably abundant, and disasters by flood or fire unknown. City visitors were more numerous than ever before, and well-paid work has not been wanting, and few if any within our borders know anything of want from personal experience."

Perhaps the native Dubliners who resisted the lures of cities and the westward migration had the best of both worlds. Still in a country setting, not uprooted from ancestral homes, they had a new industry to fill the gap left by the decline of farming. The relationship between local and city people was pleasant and cordial, if not intimate.

Well-to-do and prominent Bostonians built the first exclusively-for-summer houses in Dublin. At his death in July 1879, Professor Lewis B. Monroe was cited by the Peterborough Transcript as a man "held in high esteem by the citizens of Dublin." Monroe, who taught elocution at Boston University and had some contact with Alexander Bell in his research leading to the telephone, had renovated an old Dublin house in 1872, to which he was very attached. While visiting him, Mrs. John Singleton Copley Greene, her brother-in-law Caspar Crowninshield, and Dr. Hamilton Osgood, a prominent Boston physician, decided to buy land on which to build. Mrs. Greene's husband and his sister Elizabeth, Crowninshield's wife. were grandchildren of Gardiner Greene and great-grandchildren of the colonial portraitist John Singleton Copley. In addition to their own houses, Mrs. Greene and Dr Osgood bought land and built houses to sell or rent to their friends.


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