University of New Hampshire Art Gallery

Durham, NH



A Summertime "Hub"

During the 1870s and 1880s, the network of friends and interrelated families summering in Dublin spread. The Transcript and Dublin histories record the presence in Dublin of such Boston notables as Professors Henry B. Hill, Philip Cabot, Albert Bushnell Hart, and Edward B. Hill, and architects Russell Sturgis and Arthur Rotch. In the early eighties, both Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Raphael Pumpelly visited and found the area such an agreeable blend of serenity and sociability that they built homes. When he came to Dublin, Higginson had behind him a multi-faceted career that included serving as a Unitarian minister, commanding the Union army's first all-black regiment, and editing the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Pumpelly had been a professor of mining at Harvard and a colorful and venturesome geological explorer both in the western United States and Asia. His family life was described by others as informal and lively, and he, himself, as a devotee of the arts. Both men, in the many summers spent at Dublin, were among those people who involved themselves in town affairs and were also important in the life of the summer colony.

As Boston called itself "the Hub," so Dublin, as one of its summer counterparts, became a summertime hub. Even in the seventies, prominent visitors from Providence, New York, St Louis, Washington, and other cities, attracted by the presence of compatible people, made extended visits to Dublin, returned yearly, and built houses. In 1884 Dublin reported ninety-five permanently occupied houses and fourteen occupied in summer by non-residents. Furthermore,"The prospects of the town as a place of permanent residence are not satisfactory, but there is every reason to believe that, as a summer resort, it will more and more grow into favor." By 1886 so much property had been sold that "the summit and most desirable portions of every considerable hill in the vicinity of the Lake is in the hands of summer residents." Two Years later there were thirty-six summer houses. By 1893 the number rose to fifty-six and in 1916 there were over ninety.

In his updated History of Dublin, New Hampshire, published in 1920, the Reverend Josiah I. Seward described the town:

Although the coming of the city people has brought a new life, with many new forms of pleasure and amusement, and has wrought many transformations in the general appearance of the town, the delightful simplicity, the patient industry, the kindly feeling, the generous hospitality, the high character, and quiet dignity of those of the old stock who still remain are as noticeable as ever in the past. Formerly the city visitors and the town people mingled, in social functions, much more freely than is the case to-day. At present, the functions of the summer colony are principally confined to those who constitute that class. The same is true of the native citizens. Their different interests render it impractical that it should be otherwise. At the same time, there is the most perfect harmony and good feeling between all classes in the community. Their mutual relations are characterized by the utmost courtesy, frankness, and confidence. The advent of the city people has led to many improvements that would never have come without them. Improved highways, good public buildings, certain adornments of the village, and a general activity and appearance of animation throughout the town are traceable to this source. The churches, the stores, and the philanthropic interests of the town are greatly helped by them. The old farms have very generally disappeared. In the place of the ancient farmhouse has arisen the fine mansion of the cottager. In the place of the open field, the trees and shrubs have sprung up. The change from the old Dublin to the new is most noticeable in the winter when few of the visitors are here, when many of the highways are disused, and a feeling of loneliness comes over the town.

This seems a fair summation of the events, changes, and small tensions of Dublin as it evolved from a declining farming community to a summer colony of almost international renown.

The most obvious changes were occupational. In place of maple sugaring and apple harvesting--the advice of the Transcript notwithstanding--most Dublin people had developed skills, businesses, and services geared to the needs of the particular type of tourism that now dominated the area. Simultaneously, as the numbers of summer people increased, the local attitude toward them changed. The Dublin column in July 1894 read: "The summer boarders are now with us in force. Their cheerful presence and kindly salutation greet us on every hand. They are heartily welcome, and our only regret is that there are not more of them." The same column in autumn regretted that no hotel remained open for visitors to stay in October, "the month in which Nature makes her finest display."

By October of 1903 a somewhat sardonic tone had crept in. "the smart fellows and the pretty girls have taken themselves away to city drawing rooms, and the place is as cheerless and lifeless as the grave yard." After a Fourth of July celebration "at the Dublin club house" to which non-members were invited in 1905, the commentator had this to say: "Many more of the townspeople and children would have been there had they known of it. We don't see why there can't be a little more of this sort of thing---a little more of the sympathetic touch between hoi polloi and the er, what do you call them? It is true we are farmers and work for our bread by the day, but we take an occasional paper and some of us have been known to read a book or two, and wear such clothes as we can get and pay for, and our manners would improve a bit if we had a chance to see the best a little oftener."

Most intriguing of all, if we can use the Transcript as a social barometer, is the tone that prevails in the years after World War I. Generally there is less news about the summer people, and when it does appear the tone is more casual, less fawning and envious. The townspeople appear to have drawn together and to feel a greater sense of social security, although the view is held that the "upstairs/downstairs" atmosphere of Dublin only changed after the Depression began and did not disappear until well after World War II.

From early in the period of summer colonizing, there were outright benefits to the town. Colonel Higginson gave a piano to one of the Dublin schools, Mary Amory Greene gave "three fine heliotype reproductions of paintings by Rosa Bonheur" for the high school room. Local groups such as the Ladies' Sewing Circle heard talks by Gerald Thayer about his trip to South America and by George de Forest Brush about the Indians. The Town Hall (constructed in 1881 with large subscriptions by Mrs. Greene, General Crowninshield, and Dr. Osgood) was the setting for entertainment ranging from Senator Beveridge speaking on child labor and Richard Meryman on his war experiences in France, to an evening of readings, impersonations, and music. Many talks and entertainments raised money for worthy causes. Joseph Lindon Smith, "the artist and wit . . a born entertainer [whom] the people should see and hear," was part of a Monadnock Handicrafts Society series.

The books ordered each year by the summer residents' book club were handed on to the town library. In 1900 Mrs. Horace Putnam Farnham built and endowed a handsome new library building as a memorial to her husband. Mrs. John L. Mauran of St Louis donated the village oval as a memorial to her parents, and George Leighton build an elaborate stone water trough for public use. The Episcopal Chapel had three stained glass windows given by Caspar Crowninshield to memorialize his wife. Raphael Pumpelly, always involved in public matters, established a bacteriological and clinical laboratory to test the local milk and to drain land for anyone who wanted it done in an effort to get rid of mosquitoes. To benefit the library, Colonel Higginson read "extracts from his unpublished diaries, describing literary life in London and Paris fifteen years ago... " A bazaar "in aid of the Catholic chapel, 'Our Lady of the Snows' " offered flowers cut from summer residents' gardens and attracted the patronage of various Cabots, Mrs. Pumpelly, and "Mrs. J. Gardiner" (Isabella Stewart Gardner), who sometimes visited her several friends in Dublin.

Raphael Pumpelly asserted that, in the early days, summer life at Dublin had been quite simple, with no dressing for dinner or formal calls, but after the turn of the century that casual atmosphere became much more formal. Through all of it, though, life among the Dublin summer people was never without a variety of entertainment, usually carefully noted in the Transcript. Mrs. Osgood gave classes on
Dante and Faust for the summer colony to enjoy at her home, there was a Venetian Fete on the lake (decorated with Chinese lanterns!), George Brush arranged a tableau for a "Portrait Party," Professor Pumpelly gave a travel talk at his home, Franklin Mac Veagh opened his grounds for an annual horse fair. Each season had an assortment of musicales and lectures on all sorts of subjects Some of the most memorable entertainments, still spoken of by those who participated, were Joseph Smith's pageants.

The affluent summer residents built rather grand "cottages." One, located in contiguous Harrisville, was designed in 1916 by architect Lois L. Howe of the Boston Firm Lois L. Howe-Manning. The colonial revival mansion incorporated beautiful carved fireplaces taken from houses in Salem, Massachusetts. Charles Platt, who summered at Cornish, designed Georgian Revival houses, including one for his sister in Dublin. Both the private and public faces of Dublin show the work of John L Mauran, a St Louis architect and at one time president of the American Institute of Architects. He designed houses for his mother-in-law, Mrs. J. Gilbert Chapman, and several other summer people, as well as the Dublin Public Library, the Dublin Consolidated School, the renovation of the Dublin Town Hall, and the Village Oval. Other prestigious Boston firms were called upon for the designs of Dublin summer houses: Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, Cummings and Sears, Peabody and Stearns. Rotch and Tilden did the 1881 Town Hall.


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