I thought it might be fun to occasionally throw out into cyberspace some of the homes that are for sale in New Hampshire – from a more casual perspective (mine). Yes, I work in a real estate office but I am not licensed; I have no interest in these properties other than a general fascination with houses, especially old ones. It’s one of the reasons I thought working in real estate might be fun in the first place.
This particular house, not far from my own, was built in 1798 and has been in the same family for generations. Once a stagecoach stop en route to the White Mountains, the house and tavern offered food, drink and lodging for overnight guests. A framed copy of an 1838 newspaper clipping in the front entry hall advertises transportation to these “stupendous curiosities of nature” from Tuftonboro; Peavey was the original owner and builder of this house. As for the standard real estate nitty-gritty, there is nearly 4000 square feet of living space, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, five fireplaces, and a 30×36′ barn. It sits on just under two acres on a corner lot, and has recently undergone a structural restoration to the tune of $280,000. In other words, the house and barn are sound. The rest – the fun stuff – would be up to you.
Oh, the possibilities that are here! Floorboards are at least 12″ wide and aren’t necessarily level; fireplaces are big enough to sit inside; doors and moldings are period; antiques look right at home here. It’s chock full of good New England crookedness – doorways go one way, ceilings go another. It’s doubtful that anything is square. Details include beautiful trim on the staircase, gunstock corners, and built-in cupboards. In the rear sitting room there is a parson’s cupboard: the parson in those days went from house to house, either because there was no church building or because the nearest one was too far for people to travel. The parson’s cupboard contained a Bible and perhaps a decanter of spirits to inspire him along his way. This particular cupboard still has its original paint (remember: 1798) and has some kind of list written on it in pencil. A conversation starter, for sure.
The dining room has a huge fireplace and a beehive oven, once used as a sort of central heating system to the second floor. There are Indian shutters in a corner room, which helped regulate heat and cold at the windows. The kitchen has exposed ceiling beams, there is plenty of old hardware, and hey – I’d even keep the wallpaper. Classic New England, all of it.
Maybe the most interesting room of the house is the back sitting room – the one with the parson’s cupboard. The large paneled fireplace here faces an outside wall that has not been painted; it shows only splotchy color. In the corner you can clearly see where there used to be a grandfather clock pushed up against the wall, and someone simply painted around it. (I’d keep this, too!) Also – and this is my favorite feature – there is a ghost chair in the smoke chamber. Behind this fireplace there is a smoke chamber that was open to two other fireplaces, and a ladderback chair was placed here; it allowed a ghost to be quiet and not move about. Although the owner claims this house never had a ghost, she says that when the chimneys were rebuilt in 1950 they all stepped into the smoke chamber, saw the chair, left it in place, and never thought to take a picture.
It’s hard to imagine these houses in the times they were built – it’s so foreign to us now. By the same token, I’m sure the original builder never dreamed that someone in the year 2014 would be offering his house for sale. This is a beauty, and while it needs some work (some choppy rooms, bare-bones kitchen) it could be a showplace. If things were different I might consider it myself. Do you know anyone who might want a small piece of New Hampshire history? The asking price is $379,000. Just don’t disturb that ghost chair.