Exeter New Hampshire & Things To Do

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Things To Do 1

Exeter was once the domain of the Squamscott people, a sub-tribe of the Pennacook nation, which fished at the falls where the Exeter River becomes the tidal Squamscott, the site around which the future town of Exeter would grow. On April 3, 1638, the Reverend John Wheelwright and others purchased the land from Wehanownowit, the sagamore. Wheelwright had been exiled by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a Puritan theocracy, for sharing the dissident religious views of his sister-in-law, Anne Hutchinson. The minister took with him about 175 individuals to found the town he named after Exeter in Devon, England. Local government was linked with Massachusetts until New Hampshire became a separate colony in 1679, but counties weren’t introduced until 1769.

One of the four original townships in the province, Exeter originally included Newmarket, Newfields, Brentwood, Epping and Fremont. On July 4, 1639, 35 freemen of Exeter signed the Exeter Combination, a document written by Reverend Wheelwright to establish their own government. The settlers hunted, planted and fished. Others tended cattle and swine, or made shakes and barrel staves.

Thomas Wilson established the first grist mill on the eastern side of the island in the lower falls. Some early Exeter settlers came from Hingham, Massachusetts, including the Gilman, Folsom and Leavitt families. In 1647, Edward Gilman, Jr. established the first sawmill, and by 1651 Gilman had his own 50-ton sloop with which to conduct his burgeoning business in lumber, staves and masts.

The Gilman Garrison House, a National Historic Landmark, and the American Independence Museum were both former homes of the Gilman family. The Gilman family also donated the land on which Phillips Exeter Academy stands, including the Academy’s original Yard, the oldest part of campus. The Gilmans of Exeter also furnished America with one of its founding fathers, Nicholas Gilman, and the state of New Hampshire with treasurers, a governor, representatives to the General Assembly and judges to the General Court.The Gilman family began trading as far as the West Indies with ships they owned out of Portsmouth. It was a high-stakes business. In an 1803 voyage, for instance, the 180-ton clipper Oliver Peabody, owned by Gov. John Taylor Gilman, Oliver Peabody, Col. Gilman Leavitt and others, was boarded by brigs belonging to the Royal Navy under command of Admiral Horatio Nelson. Enforcing a blockade against the French, Nelson offered ship Captain Stephen Gilman of Exeter a glass of wine and paid him for his cargo in Spanish dollars. The trip demonstrates how far afield the ambitious merchants of Exeter reached in their trading forays.

Things To Do 2

In 1774 the rebellious Provincial Congress began to meet in the Exeter Town House after colonial Governor John Wentworth banned it from the colonial capitol at Portsmouth. In July 1775, the Provincial Congress had the provincial records seized from royal officials in Portsmouth and brought to Exeter as well. And so Exeter became New Hampshire’s capital, an honor it held for 14 years.

Jude Hall Memorial Stone – Just off Drinkwater Road, on land owned by Phillips Exeter Academy, there’s a small body of water called ‘Jude’s Pond.’ This picturesque spot was once the home of Jude Hall, a former slave and Revolutionary War veteran. His life story reflects the difficulties that most New England African Americans had to bear in the early republic.

Hall was born in 1747, most likely in Kensington, and was enslaved first to Philemon Blake and later to Nathaniel Healy. When the Revolution broke out, Hall ran away and joined the Continental Army. George Quintal’s “Patriots of Color,” which studied the battles of Bunker Hill and Battle Road, remarked, “This study confirms what the Revolutionary soldiers knew first-hand: the great mass of the 1775 army, excluding officers, was completely integrated. This level of integration did not occur in the Civil War, or for that matter World War II, but only reached similar levels in the Vietnam Conflict nearly two hundred years later.” Jude Hall remained with the Continental Army for seven years, and participated in fighting at Bunker Hill, Ticonderoga, Trenton, Hubbardton, Saratoga and Monmouth. Injured several times, he reenlisted and was discharged in 1783.  For more information on Jude Hall and his family visit Exeterhistory.

Things To Do 3

In 1827, the Exeter Manufacturing Company was established beside the river, using water power to produce cotton textiles. Other businesses would manufacture shoes, saddles, harnesses, lumber, boxes, bricks, carriages and bicycles. In 1836, the last schooner was launched at Exeter. In 1840, the Boston & Maine Railroad entered the town.

According to former governor Hugh Gregg, the United States Republican Party was born in Exeter on October 12, 1853, at the Squamscott Hotel at a secret meeting of Amos Tuck with other abolitionists. At this meeting, Tuck proposed forming a new political party to be called Republican. Upon learning of Tuck’s meeting, in December 1853 Horace Greeley said, “I think ‘Republican’ would be the best name, it will sound both Jeffersonian and Madisonian, and for that reason will take well.” ] Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, visited Exeter in 1860. His son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was attending Phillips Exeter Academy, the college preparatory school founded in 1781 by Dr. John Phillips. The town was also once home to the Robinson Female Seminary, established in 1867 and previously known as the Exeter Female Academy (established in 1826). Its landmark Second Empire schoolhouse, completed in 1869, burned in 1961.

In September 1965 Exeter earned a place in UFO history when two Exeter police officers, Eugene Bertrand and David Hunt, witnessed a bright red UFO at close range with a local teenager, Norman Muscarello. Their sighting attracted national publicity and became the focus of a bestselling book, Incident at Exeter, by journalist John G. Fuller. The Air Force eventually admitted to the three men that it had been unable to identify the strange object they had observed, and it is still considered by many UFO buffs to be one of the most impressive UFO sightings on record.

Things To Do 4

Exeter has a considerable inventory of structures by prominent architects. Arthur Gilman, descendant of one of Exeter’s founding families, designed the Old Town Hall of 1855. The Old Public Library of 1894, which now is home to the Exeter Historical Society, was designed by the Boston firm of Rotch & Tilden. Ralph Adams Cram, who trained with Rotch & Tilden, designed both Phillips Church, built in 1897, and Tuck High School, built in 1911. His firm of Cram & Ferguson designed the entire Phillips Exeter Academy campus between 1908 and 1950. More recent is the noted Academy Library, built in 1971 to the design of Louis I. Kahn. Daniel Chester French, sculptor and Exeter native, created the town’s war memorial in 1922. He is best known for his statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial, which was designed by Henry Bacon, who also designed in 1916 the Swasey Pavilion at Exeter’s town square.Other features of the town include the Swasey Parkway, which replaced wharves and warehouses along the Squamscott River, and the Ioka Theatre of 1915 on Water Street. The latter was built by Edward Mayer, an Exeter judge and resident. Mayer’s opening feature was The Birth of a Nation, by D. W. Griffith. The theatre’s curious name was proposed in a contest by a young woman with an enthusiasm for Scouting. Ioka was a Native American word meaning “playground”.

For more information on Exeter’s rich history visit The Exeter Historical Society, Exeterhistory.org

Ask your Innkeeper for a local walking guide of Exeter!

Things To Do 5

Applecrest Farm - 133 Exeter Rd, Hampton Falls, NH

Visit Applecrest today and discover a bounty of grown-on-the-farm delights, including over 40 varieties of apples, peaches, berries, sweet corn, pumpkins and an array of summer vegetables. Beneath the timbers of a 200 year-old barn, find jugs of our all-natural apple cider, made-from-scratch confectioneries (including our famous hot cider donuts) and an array of other locally produced farm goods.

Things To Do 6

Hiking Trails - Exeter, NH

The town of Exeter offers numerous hiking/snowshoing trails of such areas as the Henderson Swasey Town Forest, Oaklands Town Forest, RaynesFarm, and Little River Conservation Area.

Ask the Innkeeper for a water proof brochure.

Things To Do 7

Exeter Historic Society - 47 Front Street, Exeter, NH

A non-profit organization, the Exeter Historical Society offers regular programs of local historical interest and is a repository for documents, maps, photos, artifacts and other ephemera pertaining to Exeter, New Hampshire.

Hours: Tuesday & Thursday: 2PM – 4:30PM and Saturday: 9:30AM – 12PM

Things To Do 8

Fuller Gardens - 10 Willow Street, North Hampton, NH

Fuller Gardens are a turn-of-the-century botanical garden.  The gardens feature a formal rose garden, a Japanese garden and English perennial plantings, and are open daily on a seasonal basis.

Things To Do 9

Strawberry Banke - 14 Hancock Street Portsmouth NH

Strawbery Banke Museum, in the heart of historic downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is an authentic 10-acre outdoor history museum dedicated to bringing 300+ years of American history in the same waterfront neighborhood to life. The Museum is a place for children, adults, multigenerational families and groups to gather to explore eight heritage gardens, 32 historic buildings and traditional crafts, preservation programs, hands-on activities, the stories told by costumed role-players and the changing exhibits that offer hours of fun and discovery. The Museum’s restored buildings and open space invite visitors to immerse themselves in the past, using objects from the museum’s collection of 30,000 artifacts, and the histories of the families who lived and worked in the Puddle Dock neighborhood to engage, educate and entertain.

Things To Do 10

American Independence Museum - One Governor’s Lane Exeter, NH

The American Independence Museum is a historic museum in downtown Exeter, encompassing the Ladd-Gilman House, a registered National Historic Landmark built in 1721 by Nathaniel Ladd, and the Folsom Tavern, built in 1775 by Colonel Samuel Folsom.  The museum was open in 1991 after a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence known as a Dunlap Broadside was found in the Ldd-Gilman house, 200 years after its arrival in Exeter.

The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM.  Guided tours at 1 PM.  Open from May to November.

Things To Do 11

Castle Hill - Crane Estate - 290 Argilla Road, Ipswich, MA

Enjoy the Northeast’s most spectacular beach and follow trails and boardwalks through a landscape of sand dunes and salt marsh. Castle Hill refers to either a 165-acre drumlin surrounded by sea and salt marsh or to the mansion that sits on the hill. Both are part of the 2,100-acre Crane Estate located on Argilla Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The former summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Richard T. Crane, Jr., the estate includes a historic mansion, 21 outbuildings, and designed landscapes overlooking Ipswich Bay.  Its name derives from a promontory in Ipswich, Suffolk, England.

Things To Do 12

Cape Neddick Light - Nubble Lighthouse - 11 Sohier Park Rd, York Beach, ME

The Cape Neddick Light is a lighthouse in Cape Neddick, York, Maine. In 1874 Congress appropriated $15,000 to build a light station at the “Nubble” and in 1879 construction began. Cape Neddick Light Station was dedicated by the U.S. Lighthouse Service and put into use in 1879. It is still in use today. Plans had been in the works to build a lighthouse on the site since 1837. The tower is lined with brick and sheathed with cast iron. It stands 41 feet tall but the light is 88 feet above sea level.

Things To Do 13

Kancamagus Highway - Route 112 - North Conway, NH

Also known as route 112, the Kancamagus begins at the intersection of Route 16 in Conway, NH, wanders thru the White Mountain National Forrest and ends in Lincoln, NH where it crosses Interstate 93 and connects to Route 3.  It is considered  New England’s Most Superb Scenic Drive particularly during the region’s storied fall foliage season, when prime scenic routes beckon.

Things To Do 14

Salem, MA

Salem is a residential and tourist area that is home to the House of Seven Gables, Pioneer Village, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Salem Willows Park and the Peabody Essex Museum.  It features historic residential neighborhoods in the Federal Street District and the Charter Street Historic District.  Much of the city’s cultural identity reflects its role as the location of the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692, as featured in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.  Gallows Hill was originally believed to be the site of numerous public hangings and is currently a park used as a playing field for various sports.

Things To Do 15

Odiorne Point State Park - 570 Ocean Blvd, Rye, NH

Odiorne Point State Park offers one of the most beautiful and diverse natural settings along New Hampshire’s coastline with 135-acres of rocky shoreline, sandy beaches, salt marsh, freshwater and salt ponds, dense forest, military and historical sites all connected by an extensive trails system. While the park is an ideal location for seaside outdoor recreation, the property is also renowned for its rich social history and seven distinct habitats that can be visited within an hours walk. Although the spectacular rocky shore is the one of the most notable, the woodlands, uplands, salt marsh, freshwater and salt ponds, and sandy beach (non-swimming) combine to create one of the regions most diverse nature walks.

Things To Do 16

Marginal Way - 23 School Street - Ogunquit, ME

The conveyance of a mile-long strip of oceanfront property, called the “Marginal Way,” is the finest donation the Town of Ogunquit has ever received.  Josiah Chase, Jr. donated the original parcel in 1925.  Beginning in a corner of Oarweed Cove, the now-paved (and longer) footpath meanders through bayberry, honeysuckle and bittersweet, gnarled shrubs of fragrant pink and white sea roses that frame expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean.  The picturesque footpath is called “the margin” because of its patterned development along the edge of Maine’s cliffs.  For more than 85 years, persuasive philanthropists have worked tirelessly to protect and preserve the Marginal Way.

Things To Do 17

Childrens' Museum of New Hampshire - 6 Washington Street, Dover NH

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire invites families to explore amazing creative exhibits that make learning fun. Discover dinosaurs, submarine, aerodynamics, brain waves, music, art, nature and more. Special area for babies and toddlers upstairs. Riverfront setting with playground, benches and picnic tables. Open year round with special events, classes, performances and workshops.
Fall/Winter/Spring Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm. Summer Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm.
Things To Do 17

Restaurant Suggestions from the Inn

Ambrose  – Onsite at the Inn by the Bandstand – 6 Front Street, Exeter, NH  603-772-7673 Small plates, cocktails & wine served in our dining room or on our beautiful patio.

Otis  – 4 Front Street, Exeter, NH 603-580-1705 Fine Dining.  Onsite at the Inn.  

Street 360  – 8 Clifford Street, Exeter, NH  603-778-6850 Casual Dining.  Short walking distance from the Inn.  

Vino e Vivo – 163 Water Street, Exeter, NH   603-580-4268  Wine  Bar and fine dining.  Short walking distance from the Inn.

Laney and Lu – 26 Water St. Exeter, NH  603-580-4942  Inspired eatery featuring wholesome and healthy food.  Short walking distance from the Inn.

Cornicello – 11 Water Street, Exeter, NH 603-580-4604 Italian Restaurant, short walking distance from the Inn.

Sea Dog Brewing – 5 Water Street, Exeter, NH 603-793-5116 Casual Pub.  Short walking distance from the Inn.

Oba Noodle Bar – 69 Water Street, Exeter, NH  603-693-6264.  Short walking distance from the Inn.  10% complimentary with key.

CRs Restaurant – 287 Exeter Road, Hampton, NH  603-929-7972 Fine Dining.  10 minute drive from the Inn.

The Carriage House – 2263 Ocean Blvd, Rye, NH.  603-964-8251 Fine Dining.  25 minute drive from the Inn.

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