Tour of Historic Buildings in Plainfield, NH

by Jane Stephenson
A map of historic buildings in Plainfield. Click on the image to see a larger map.

The map at left shows the location of each house or building. The numbered descriptions below refer to the map numbers. Click on the map image at left to see/print a larger version.

Plainfield Town Hall

1. Plainfield Town Hall. Built as a church and meeting house in 1798, this building was moved twice before it was located to its present site in 1846, cut down in height and remodeled into a town hall.  In 1916  artist and drama enthusiast William Howard Hart offered to build an addition with a stage in the town hall, with a stage set designed by Maxfield Parrish. The town hall is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Picture Needed

2. Stickney/Breese. This house with its steeply pitched roof was built in 1880 by Charles Stickney who operated a blacksmith shop nearby. This was the first house in town to have electricity, which was installed in 1916.

Read, Anderle House

3. Read/Herbert. This small Cape was built by Silas Read in 1840, and for much of the twentieth century was known as the Spalding “Little” House.  

Gage, Spaulding, Grote House

4. Gage/Spalding/Grote. Built c.1820, this house features the triangular pediment, vent and recessed doorway typical of Greek Revival buildings. The Spalding family of blacksmiths, woodworkers and antique dealers lived here for  most of the twentieth century. The small outbuilding south of the house was once a blacksmith shop and later a store. 

Mrs. A.I. Read in front.

5. Read/Rogers. Built by Ai Read c.1830, this Cape Cod house has a later porch addition on the gable end.

6. Philip Read Memorial Library. This brick building, built in 1921 in the Georgian Revival style, retains its original two room design, woodwork and fireplace. The building was donated to the town by Plainfield native Edmond S. Read in memory of his father.

7. Gage/Moore. Built c.1820 in the Federal style with Greek Revival influence, the house has an earlier ell dating from 1780-1790. The first publicly supported Town Free Library was housed in a northeast room of this house from 1892-1897. Note the similarities between this house and houses #15 and #43.

Baptist Church and Parsonage

8.  Kingsbury/Baptist Church. Built by Daniel Kingsbury as a tavern with a second floor ballroom c. 1820, this house shows Greek Revival influence in its window trim, elaborate pilasters and broad triangular pediment. It has been the parish house for the Baptist Church since 1875.

9. Plainfield Community Baptist Church. Built in 1840 as the Union Meeting House, and originally shared by Methodists, Baptists and Universalists, this brick church has an impressive tower with Ionic columns. The colored windows in the front were added in 1903, and the frosted windows on the north and south sides in 1907. Its size, design and brickwork are remarkably similar to the Blow-Me-Down Grange (#13) which was built the year before, and both buildings are attributed to Charles Eggleston, a local builder. 

10. Plainfield General Store. Built in 1906 on the site of an earlier general store that was destroyed by fire, the three-story Second Empire style building has a mansard roof with projecting dormers.

11.Sargent/Nelson. This two-story house with two later additions was built c. 1820 and was the earliest store in the village.

12. French/Bailey. This little house built c.1900 combines Gothic Revival elements and Queen Anne ornament. 

13. Blow-Me-Down Grange #234. Built in 1839 for the Union Congregational Church, this was called the Old South Church.  The Grange purchased the building in 1899. The 1938 hurricane damaged the tower, roof and chimney, and when the building was being repaired, a second floor was added to provide a hall above and a kitchen and dining hall below.

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14. Silas Read/O’Brien. Built in 1820 by Silas Read (1778-1876), this substantial square Federal style brick house with hipped roof retains many original features, including a large early kitchen fireplace. It was the home of the Spalding family from 1852 to1986.

Read, Mayette House

15. Read/MacLeay. Built by Silas Read c.1812 this Federal style house is one room deep with a central hallway and two chimneys with four original fireplaces on the rear walls.The home of Ralph and Sally Jordan for most of the twentieth century, it is the largest farm in the village.

16. Spalding/Kennedy & Williamson. Built by Calvin Spalding in 1830, this Greek Revival house retains its original porch with Ionic columns. Spalding was a cabinet and casket maker who made many kinds of furniture for town residents in the mid-1800s.

Spalding/Lucier House

17. Spalding/MacDonald. Built in 1821 by Calvin Spalding, this large L-shaped Federal brick house has its original chimneys, fanlight and Palladian window.

Read, Drye House

18. Samuel Read/Drye.This house was built c. 1815 as a one-story brick dwelling, and the framed second floor was added about 1840. 

Tracy, Davini House

19. Tracy/Davini. This Cape Cod house, originally with a central chimney, is said to have been built by Deacon Tracy in 1804-1805, but was moved to this site from another location in Plainfield. A porch on the gable end facing 12A has been removed.

Eggleson, Grabe House

20.  Eggleston/Grabe. Built by Colonel Charles Eggleston as his own home about 1842 in the Greek Revival style, this brick house has a recessed door, transom and sidelights. The interior woodwork in the house was carved by James Gilkey. Eggleston built a number of homes in Plainfield Village and beyond.

21. Williams/Gillen. Originally a Cape Cod house built c.1820, the dwelling later had the large dormer added above the front door. Across the road on the Blow-Me-Down brook was a clay bank that provided the raw material for many of the bricks used in Plainfield houses.

Freeman, Cassedy House

22.  Freeman/Cassedy. The ell of this house is believed to have been built c. 1790, with the Greek Revival temple front addition  added c. 1835. Doric columns support a recessed porch, which shelters the unusually large front windows and a doorway with a transom light and sidelights.  This house and its early barns were often depicted in paintings by Maxfield Parrish, and it is still lived in by Freeman descendants.

The Oaks

23. Parrish/Smith.  “The Oaks” can best be viewed from 12A just after passing the Cassedy house. From 1906 until his death in 1966, this  was the home of Maxfield Parrish and his family. Parrish designed the original house and studio. The most popular illustrator of his time and a major figure in the Cornish Art Colony, Parrish painted book illustrations, magazine covers, calendars, art prints and murals. Thousands of prints of his most famous paintings were reproduced for the mass market. Many local people modelled for Parrish. Like many of the homes built by people associated with the Cornish Colony, the house was sited carefully to provide a view of Mt. Ascutney in the distance. The house was destroyed by fire in 1979, and a new house similar in style was built on the foundation. Parrish’s original studio remains.

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24. Freeman/George. “Hillside”. Built by John Freeman c.1910, this house was enlarged in 1924 for Winston Churchill, the famous novelist, after his earlier house in Cornish was destroyed by fire. 

25. Lawrence/Taylor. Designed by Cornish Colony architect Charles Platt, “Hilltop”  was built in 1896 for Grace and Edith Lawrence, his wife’s cousins. Grace was an accomplished concert pianist and the house was the scene of many musical gatherings in the early 1900s. Grace married Dartmouth professor Robert Taylor and the house is still lived in by Taylor descendants.

26. Westgate-Peterson Cemetery. This early cemetery has about seventy graves, with the earliest headstone that of Thomas Gates, who died in 1784. 

27. Westgate/Cardillo/Joyce. This early Cape Cod house was built c. 1800, with additions and a second story dormer added in the late 1940s.

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28. Westgate/Robicheau. This Cape Cod house with a large Gothic dormer and attached barns was built before 1860.  The large red barn was built c.1950.

29. Burnap/Tompkins.This early Cape Cod house on the corner of Freeman Hill and River Road was built c.1810 with a center chimney.

30. Gallup/Home Hill/Walnut Inns Inc. Thomas Gallup, Jr. built this large, elegant brick home in 1818, and was licensed as a tavernkeeper between 1821 and 1835. The home features four chimneys and fine interior carving by James Gilkey. Opened as an inn in 1983, Home Hill is one of the finest restaurants in the area.

31. Stevens/McGranahan. This property was settled by Lt. John Stevens (1721-1797) and his wife Experience. John Stevens had been chosen in 1761 to travel from Plainfield, Connecticut, to meet with Royal Governor Benning Wentworth in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and petition for the land grant. He was a leader of the town during the early years, serving as one of its first selectmen. Experience was the first settler to be buried in Plainfield in February 1767. This two-story house with its gable overhang and original windows bears many similarities to the other houses built along the River Road in the 1770 to 1800 period, and was probably built c.1780. 

Fuller, Moore house

32. Fuller/Moore. Built 1782-1784 as a center chimney dwelling, this house has an older ell, and a nice grouping of old connected barns along the road.  

33. Hadley/Pat McNamara. This house with a recessed doorway was built in the mid-1800s.

34. River Road Cemetery. Many early Plainfield settlers are buried here in the first public graveyard in Plainfield. The land was accepted as a burying ground  at the 1770 town meeting.

35. Smith/William McNamara. Francis Smith (1737-1818) and his wife Eunice settled on this property in March of 1765, and their daughter, Nancy, was the first child born in Plainfield later that year. Smith owned eight of the sixty-six original proprietary shares of Plainfield and was a major figure in the early life of the settlement, as well as its wealthiest resident. He represented Plainfield in the Fourth Provincial Congress of New Hampshire in 1775. The cabin where he and his family first lived was located in the field behind the current house which was built in 1796. Owned by the McNamara family since 1950, it is one of the last dairy farms in Plainfield. The McNamaras have a milk bottling plant and sell their milk on-site and locally.

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36. Smith/Franklin. Francis F. Smith (1815-1901), a descendant of Francis Smith (above), built this country Gothic house about 1849 on the site of an earlier house. Long known as Riverview Farm, it is now an orchard and is open in the fall for pick-your-own apples, pumpkins and raspberries. A ferry across the Connecticut River between Plainfield and Hartland, Vermont, operated from  the 1890s until around 1910, and the ferry road on the opposite bank of the river is visible. The rock formations in the river are called the Hen and Chickens.

37. Colby/Sprague. Known as Edgewater Farm, the Cape Cod house was built c. 1835. The Spragues have extensive greenhouses, raise bedding plants and perennials, and have a pick-your-own strawberry operation. Their farmstand is on Route 12A. A ferry operated from a spot north of the house (see map) from 1779 until the 1880s.

38. Job Williams/Williams. This classic Cape Cod house was built in 1842 by Job Williams (1794-1874) a grandson of Lemuel (below). Many of the outbuildings remain, lending the property the appearance of an earlier era.  The house remains in the Williams family.

39. Lemuel Williams/Johnson. This early Cape Cod house was built c.1797, and originally had a larger central chimney. The size and placement of the windows  and the narrow front door suggest its early age.

40. Read/Read. Built in 1885 in the Gothic Revival style by Albert K. Read after his previous house burned in 1882, this property still remains in the Read family. A.K’s grandson, Palmer Read, and his wife, Lena Rogers Read, operated a large dairy farm here, and both were very active in local and state politics.

Picture Needed

41. Westgate/Wood. This early center chimney Cape Cod house was once known as “Sunset Knoll.”

Westgate, Spencer House

42. Westgate/Spencer. The fretwork on the gable end of the house is suggestive of a late nineteenth century house, but the house is much earlier and was probably built in the 1830s.

Bryant, Cerra House

43. Bryant/Horne. Built c.1815, the house originally had double chimneys in the rear of the front rooms. The first floor of the ell is the oldest part of the house.

44. Plainfield School/Smith Auction Gallery. Built in 1929 as a two- room consolidated school to replace a number of small district schoolhouses on the west side of town, elementary school children were educated there until the Plainfield Elementary school was built in Meriden in 1973. William Smith Auctioneers purchased the building to use as an auction gallery in 1984.

45. French/Smith. The small red house in front and to the left of the auction gallery was built in Grafton, N.H. c.1810 and moved to its present site by William Smith in 1990. Now used as a display area for antiques, it retains its completely original interior, fireplaces and paneling. The house is framed with a knee wall that rises some three feet above the attic floor, and the attic is lighted by four small windows beneath the eaves.

46. Plainfield Plain Cemetery. Once the site of the first meeting house, this cemetery has often been expanded and is the largest in Plainfield. The oldest graves are in the middle section.

Kingsbury, Atwater House

47. Kingsbury/Atwater. Built in 1801 by Asa Kingsbury (1770-1851) as a tavern, this large house with low pitched hip roof had a bar room on the first floor and a second floor ballroom. It retains its fireplaces and interior carving by local carver James Gilkey. Kingsbury ran the tavern until 1845, and also operated a store here.

48. Mothers’ and Daughters’ Club/Plainfield Historical Society. Charles Platt, a nationally renowned architect and a summer resident of the Cornish Colony, designed this bungalow-style building in 1902. It was the first women’s clubhouse built in New Hampshire. The Club was founded in 1897 to bring together the women of the Cornish Art Colony and local women “so that interests might be shared and helpful work done.” The Club also maintained the Mothers’ and Daughters’ Industries from 1903 to 1918, making woven cloth rugs and other crafts. The club donated their building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, to the Plainfield Historical Society in 1979. 

49. Peterson/Longacre.This Cape Cod house with its long attached ell and barn was built in 1868.