Historical Hampton Landmarks Trivia

By John M. Holman

Hampton History Volunteer
Lane Memorial Library

OLD LANDING ROAD -- This was the roadway from the ancient landing on Hampton River taken on October 14, 1638 by Rev. Stephen Bachiler and his small band of followers, when they made the first settlement of Hampton, originally named Winnacunnet Plantation. For the next 160 years, this area was the center of the Town's activity. During that period and into the Town's third century, Landing Road provided access for fishing, salt-marsh haying, mercantile importing and exporting and transportation needs of a prospering community.

1. A huge rock on Meeting House Green adjacent to the One-room District School House at 40 Park Avenue, was the doorstep to the old wooden Hampton Academy when it was on the "Green" before it was moved to Academy Avenue in 1883 and razed for salvage in 1940.

2. A mill stone on the "Green", so arranged as to make a table, came from the old tide mill at the Landing, off Landing Road. Another old mill stone, but in poorer condition, came from an old mill further inland.

3. The FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF HAMPTON is the sixth Meeting House and is the present church building. It was built in 1843 and dedicated on January 4, 1844. The steeple was replaced with a new one on Easter Sunday in 1980.

4. The fifth Meeting House, dedicated on November 14, 1797, became the old HAMPTON TOWN HALL across the street, when the Congregational Church was dedicated in 1844. It burned in March 1949 from a faulty furnace (?), and was never rebuilt. The original Town Hall sign is on permanent display in the Tuck Memorial Museum at 40 Park Avenue. It was salvaged from the Municipal Dump by my father, Marshall S. Holman and donated to the museum.

5. The (OCEANSIDE) GRANGE HALL (now the home of the American Legion Post #35 of the Hamptons) at 69 High Street, was dedicated on September 23, 1929, on Monday evening at 8 p.m. The building was the original saw mill of S. W. Dearborn Lumber Company and was situated farther back from High Street. From October 2, 1942 until March 31, 1952, the building housed THE HAMPTON THEATRE under the proprietorship of Bernie and Van Stevens and showed the latest motion pictures of the day, including a cartoon, the latest news, a serial "cliff-hanger" and previews of coming attractions. (Popcorn was 10 cents a box and it was "French Fried"!)

6. THE ASHWORTH HOTEL -- The first Ashworth was built in 1909 and burned on November 19, 1913. The second Ashworth was built in 1915 as a nearly exact replica of the first one, but also burned on September 23, 1915. According to newspaper accounts, it was dynamited to halt the spread of the conflagration. Shortly after, it was rebuilt for a third time and it remains so today.

7. The old HAMPTON ACADEMY on Meeting House Green, was moved on January 22, 1883 by 80 yokes of oxen and several pairs of horses, attached in 4 strings to heavy cable, borrowed from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. It took 17 minutes from the second start, ½ mile distant. After having been closed for 3 years, it opened at its new location on Academy Avenue in September 1883. It suffered a fire in 1930, but reopened shortly thereafter. The building was sold at public auction in 1940 for $200. and razed for salvage.

It was replaced by the new Hampton Academy and High School (now called Hampton Academy Junior High School) and dedicated on June 8, 1940. The last class to graduate from the HA&HS was in 1958. A new school was built off Landing Road (on Alumni Drive), named WINNACUNNET HIGH SCHOOL, and was dedicated October 26, 1958, with the first class to graduate in June 1959.