National Register Nomination Information:
DESCRIPTION: Changes in Wilder-Holton House, Lancaster, N.H.
Built in 1780, the house with attached shed probably remains in outline as originally constructed. Many interior changes were made 1893-1915. It is an aim of the Historical Society to eventually restore the house to its original condition.
Roof has been rebuilt, date uncertain; if after the 1917 fire, the style remained as before (as shown in photographs prior to that date.) There are no very early pictures to verify original type of roof or anything else.
Cellar originally under less than half of the house, gradually extended, completed in early 1900's. Furnace installed date unknown.
Chimneys, now three in number, equipped with stovepipe holes, replacing the first large chimney (with seven fireplaces) which was torn down after 1847. The huge base of the original chimney still exists in the cellar.
Doors. Original front door in south-west side replaced by two windows (about 1920-1930); original back door in north-east side replaced by a window at an earlier period. Originally the back door is said to have had a porte-cochere; no evidence remains. The present front door, on the south-east side, may have been a side door from the beginning, or may have been added some years after the house was built. A door, once the front door, now serves the shed.
Stairway, enclosed, leading up from the kitchen, remains but is blocked off at ceiling level. Very probably this was at first the only stairway, the present hall staircase being added later.
Windows, originally 24 panes (12 over 12), were at some time replaced by windows of 12 panes (6 in each sash) everywhere except in the shed, where there are still two 24-paned windows.
Floors of soft wood have been covered upstairs and down by hard-wood boards except for one ground-floor room and some closets.
Second floor was at first one large room, with swinging partitions which converted it into several smaller rooms, or fastened to the ceiling when the place was used as a hall. The partitions were made permanent at some time after the early 1790's, and the second floor remodeled into a separate apartment in 1928. A closet still contains a section of the bench which once ran all the way around the entire space used as a hall.
Outbuildings, including several large barns and sheds were destroyed by fire in 1917. Only a small brick smoke-house remains. A four-car garage was constructed, using as much as possible salvaged material from the barns.
Since 1965, changes made by the Lancaster Historical Society have included removing the bathtub and sink from the ground floor adding a small pantry sink and a facsimile (unconnected to chimney) to the old kitchen hearth, fireplace and oven. Also a cement floor was poured in a portion of the attached shed, which had no floor, although the larger part of this shed is floored with wood.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Wilder-Holton house was the first two-story house built in that part of New Hampshire, which became Coos County and was then a part of Grafton County. It is now considered the oldest house in the county, one-story houses known to be older having been lost by fire. From 1780 it was the home of a family operating a good-sized farm, beginning with over 800 acres, having become somewhat less by the time the 1917 barn fire put a stop to active farming.
From the outset until the 1791-1794 erection of a Meeting House, the Wilder-Holton house served as a place in which to hold both town and church meetings. For some years after 1810 this was a boarding-house during the periods when court was in session; the court-house being at that time just across the street.
Traditionally, the Wilder-Holton house was a station on the underground railway of slavery days, the owner being an ardent abolitionist.
MAJOR BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES
History of Coos County, Ferguson, W.A., 1888 -
Town History, Lancaster, N.H., Somers, A.N.
Historical Sites and Houses of Lancaster, N.H. Bicentennial Committee, 1964
FORM PREPARED BY:
Cecile M. Costine, President
Lancaster Historical Society
226 Main Street, Lancaster, New Hampshire
DATE ENTERED: 6/11/75
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