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    Site No. 18.  162 & 156 Main Street.  If you were to look across the street during the 1850s, there would be nine wooden buildings between Riverworks and Church Street.  All had ground floor shops, with offices or apartments upstairs.   Only a few of those buildings remain.

    162 Main Street: During the mid-1800s, Joseph R. Doe lived and worked here.  For many years he was the town tax collector and sold fish on the side.  He was known to holler “‘Pay your taxes or go to jail!’ to passersby that needed reminding.  Among the many other shops here, for nearly 40 years “Pete” Levesque ran an athletic supply store out of his barbershop.  It seems Pete was as good a pitcher as he was a barber.  More recently, Gepetto’s Pizzeria got its start here.

    156 Main Street:  From 1902 through World War I, this was the post office.  More recently it spent a few years as an Asian grocery.  But one of this building’s first owners had descended from one of Newmarket’s first settlers—the Folsom family. Here are a few of their stories.  Innkeeper Jeremiah Folsom was a patriot during the American Revolution.  He and his eight sons joined the 1774 raid on Fort William and Mary.  Farmer Josiah Folsom lived at the Crow and Eagle Falls homestead on Hersey Lane.   In 1820 he bought a beautiful hall clock.  A few years later when the house caught fire, his daughters Mary and Abigail rescued it from the flames.  The clock is still with us, telling time at the Stone School Museum.

    Josiah’s son William Folsom taught at the crowded Cheswill school before training to become a doctor.  By 1843, he owned this building, where he lived and practiced medicine.  William’s children were born here.  His son Channing Folsom was a visionary educator who became New Hampshire’s Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1898.  He worked to enforce child labor laws and fund education for needy communities.  Due to these progressive ideas, he was not reappointed.  He moved back in Newmarket, and in 1924 he was on the Building Committee for the new High School.  Many renovations and additions later, it’s still our high school!

    However, the Folsoms suffered a horrific tragedy.  In 1914 Channing’s son Henry Folsom was a lawyer in Boston.  His wife Mary had suffered from mental illness for several years and was staying in Newmarket during one of her episodes.  Henry headed north from Boston to be with her.  Mary met him at the Exeter train station, and as Henry drove the carriage back to Newmarket, she killed him with a gun she had purchased that morning. 

    Mary was institutionalized at the State Hospital, but five years later she escaped.  Using her great-grandmother’s maiden name, Mary Rust settled in Troy, NY.  She eventually started a small bakery that became quite successful.  But after eight years, she came back and turned herself in.  Mary Folsom died in 1945 at the N.H. State Hospital.  

    While Mary Folsom was reinventing herself in New York, Greek immigrants Nicholas and Jennie Bouras were making this building their home and livelihood.  By 1927 Nick had opened the Olympia Confectionary.  For decades it was a teenage hangout—complete with jukebox and pinball machine.  Nick and Jennie’s children grew up in Newmarket, and their son Aristotle became the editor of the Newmarket News.  At 14, he was the youngest newspaper editor in the state.

    Site No. 19 is right here: the American Legion.

    END OF AUDIO TEXT. See below for photos and more information.

     Site No. 18. (162 & 156 Main St.)  Both buildings predate 1857, and have housed all kinds of businesses and all kinds of people.   

    Downtown Begins

    Looking back beyond Tenney Square behind us, there’s an open space of sorts, where granite outcroppings have denied any building attempts beyond a memorial to the Civil War veterans.

    Heading north into town there’s a change in the landscape.  After Riverworks, the next building is awfully close. And for most of the last 150 years, that was normal. 

    Nineteenth century maps of this part of Main Street (from Riverworks to Church Street) have shown as many as ten different buildings—crammed along 300 feet of street frontage.  Most of these wooden structures are now gone, leaving no evidence of the taverns, offices, and shops of all kinds—from harnesses and dry goods to hats and ice cream.  And there were always families living upstairs or out back. 

    The brick bank building, constructed in 1909, helps to date these photos.

    In the photo above — The Kennebunk Bank Building is the only structure remaining in 2022.  The two buildings to the right of it fit into now the bank parking lot.  The two buildings to the left are long gone, but they illustrate how tightly packed stores were along this stretch.

    Here In the second photo, Site No. 18 (156 and 162 Main St.) is off in the distance, beyond the building labeled “W. Burleigh.” All four of the buildings owned by “Mrs. S.E.W. Creighton”[1] are no longer standing. 

    So this street looked quite different 100-150 years ago.   We can try to imagine wooden buildings filling all the gaps that are currently used for parking, etc.  Before cars, there would be horses and lots of pedestrians.  And then there were the challenges of unpaved streets—most likely quite a mess during mud season. 

    162 & 156 Main Street

    Very few of these old wooden buildings remain.  One of them is right next to Riverworks.

    162 Main Street

    Well over 150 years old, this structure first appears on the 1857 Town Map as Smith Express.  Originally it was the old Joseph R. Doe house.  Joseph (1791-1871) was the son of Wiggin Doe[2], and for many years he was the town tax collector; and he had a side business as a fish dealer.  His place of business was level with the sidewalk, under the stairs leading up to his house.  “‘Pay your taxes or go to Jail!’ was his oft-repeated shout out at any delinquent taxpayer who passed by.”    He knew them all.  But by reports of the times, he was a fair and honest man. [3] 

    During the 1880s and 90s, there was no more talk about taxes, and the fish smell must have dissipated.  This building was used for sweeter things—a restaurant, a couple of ice cream parlors, and a candy shop up until 1904.  It changed hands several times from the 1910s through the world wars—at one time becoming a barroom.  Spanning the 1950s and 1960s it was home to Rene’s Sports, an athletic sports store owned and operated by Rene Peter Levesque out of his barbershop.   Known as “Pete,” he was a WW I veteran, an excellent barber, and a great pitcher for the Legion team in the 1920s and 30s.  He owned and operated his barber shop from this building for 37 years.   

    The building has continued to feature sweets, treats and hair styling—with Ron’s Donut Shop and Hair Artisans.  By 1978 (around the time that the Downtown Historic District was being researched) it housed Jacquie’s’ House of Beauty on one side, and a candy store run by Lester and Claudia Heath on the other.  Later on, Gepetto’s Pizzeria got its start here.  More recently, Jade Garden relocated to this building.

    These days there’s a bit of a gap between this building and the next one at 156 Main Street.  There used to be a building here—with a pool hall out back. 

    156 Main Street

    In terms of architectural design, the present home of Geeks to You is described as the only Greek Revival architecture on Main Street.  It has six paired windows in the street end gable, and an altered recessed doorway.  The first listed reference to this spot appears on the 1857 New Market Village map as “Dr. Folsom’s”.  However, Dr. William Folsom had moved into the building and set up his practice before 1843.  While the actual year of construction is uncertain, at least part of the present structure dates back to that era.

    William Folsom 

    William Folsom’s ancestor Ephraim Folsom (born in 1654 in Massachusetts) was one of Newmarket’s early settlers, with a homestead at Crow and Eagle Falls, on the Piscassic River.  Many of his descendants stayed here and contributed a great deal for over 200 years.

    For more detailed information on the Folsom family, see the link attached to this site. 

    The Next Tenants at 156 Main Street

    Dr. Samuel Greene bought out William Folsom’s practice but later leased out the building and moved to a different location in town.  Around 1869 another family moved in.

    Mr. Charles Doe – Businessman and Public Servant

    Charles Doe (1840-1905) was born in Durham to a large family.  His father “interned him out” to live with and learn from Newmarket dry-goods merchant Nathan Harvey.  By 1860, 19-year-old Charles was living with the Harvey family.  One of the Harvey daughters was 15-year-old Luella. In 1869 she and Charles got married; and at some point they moved to this building. 

    Mr. Doe went into business with Charles Keniston; they ran the Doe Tailoring and dry goods shop across the street.  This arrangement lasted until 1898 when Mr. Keniston decided to go into the meat business, opening the Newmarket Meat Market next door to the tailor shop. 

    This left Mr. Doe with the tailoring business.  By that time, he had become a well-respected businessman, serving in many town offices.  For many years, whenever anyone was ill, he would fill in as Town Clerk, Supervisor of the Checklist, or Town Moderator, as he had previously served in all those positions—as well as to the school committee.  He was an officer in the Odd Fellows, the Rising Star Masonic Lodge, and the Methodist Church (he even oversaw the Church Sunday School).  And in 1901 he was appointed as Associate Judge for the Newmarket Police Court.

    Miss Sarah Ann Doe, a Millinary Shop, and Dr. Caswell

    Around 1880, Charles and Luella moved to Spring Street.  Thomas O’Brien had purchased the property and leased it as a millinery shop between 1880 thru 1892.  Residing here was also Miss Sarah Ann Doe (daughter of old Joseph Doe – the fish dealer and shouting tax collector).

    Miss Doe continued at this address, although the millinery shop was replaced with a harness shop (1892-1898).  In 1900 Dr. Charles O. Caswell of Portland, Maine, (the son and heir of James Caswell of the Caswell Mansion—Site No. 8) purchased the “Miss Ann Doe” house on Main Street.  According to the report in the April 7, 1900 Newmarket Advertiser:

    Doctor Caswell’s alterations and repairs have been nearly completed, and it is a great improvement to that part of the street.  A plate glass front has been put in, the interior of the store sheeted with Georgia pine, and new counters, etc. put in.  New windows have been installed throughout the building.  The second story has been fitted up with offices, one of which will be occupied by a dressmaker from Haverhill.  The store will be lighted by electricity.”[4]

    When Miss Doe passed away in 1909, at the age of 86, she was still living on Main Street.  There is some evidence that Miss Doe’s residence had been a separate building out back, eventually being incorporated into the front part of the building.  It’s unclear when this happened.

    Post Office Years

    On July 1st 1902 the building was leased by the US Post Office, and the milliner’s shop was relocated to the Creighton Block.[5]  However, there were still other tenants in the building.  Early in 1903, a Dr. Wing announced putting out his shingle “over the Post Office.” Later that year, it was announced that “Harry W. Haines has moved his office from the Post Office building.”[6]  William H. Small was the Postmaster and it remained a Post Office until sometime before 1919 when a notice in the paper stated that Dr. Charles Caswell had sold the building to Primo Vendasi, who had been occupying the residence for several years.

    The Vendasi Family:  Immigration and Other Struggles

    Primo Vendasi (1875-?) ran a shoe repair and harness shop here, having been a tenant for several years before buying the building.   Shortly after purchasing the property in 1919, he mortgaged it and expanded the building considerably.  He only owned the property for about two years. 

    Vendasi had emigrated from Italy in 1902.  According to his WWI draft card, his only relative lived in Italy.  In the 1920 census he is listed as a widower.  But that was about to change.  In September 1920 he became a family man.

    Primo and his wife Leona lived here briefly with their two sons Alfred (born 1919) and William (born 1922).  Leona’s parents may have lived with them as well. 

    Leona Arcand Vendasi (1900-1966)

    Leona’s parents Alex and Leoni Arcand were emigres from Quebec; between 1887 and by the early 1900s they had adopted three children—the youngest of whom was Leona. [7]  The 1910 Census finds Alex, Leoni and 9-year-old Leona living on Exeter St.  In the Newmarket Directory of 1918-20, both Leona and her father were listed as “millhands,” still on Exeter Street. 

    In March 1919 Leona’s son Alfred was born in Boston.[8]  Fifteen months later she and Primo married; and little Freddie was acknowledged as Primo’s son.  At the time of their marriage Primo was a 44-year-old widower; and Leona was just 18.   Marriages of an older husband to a younger wife were not all that uncommon then; many times they seemed to work out well enough.  That was not the case with Primo and Leona.

    Leona’s mother Leoni passed away in November 1920—barely two months after the wedding.   In March 1922 a pregnant Leona divorced Primo, citing him for cruelty.  The following month she gave birth to their son Robert William Vendasi, and Primo moved out of town.  He  relocated in Barre, VT where he remained—apparently for the rest of his life—repairing shoes and harnesses. 

    In July 1923, Leona married Antonio Grassi, an Italian immigrant who was 18 years older than she. Their daughter Virginia was born in 1925.  Despite Leona having divorced Antonio in 1926 (for abandonment), the family was living together in the Mathes tenement (Site No. 16) in 1927.  By 1930, the couple had moved to 48 Elm Street, along with their daughter, her two sons and her father. Alex Arcand was 75 years old, still working in the silk mill.

     By 1940, Leona had had two more children and was no longer with Antonio (he had died in 1943).  Due to company slowdowns, she and her son Alfred lost their jobs with the Rockingham Shoe Company.  They then moved to Dover.   In 1939 her two daughters (14-year-old Gina and 7-year old Anita) were temporarily placed at the St. Charles Orphanage in Rochester.  Once Leona and Alfred found work in the Dover mills and shoe shops, Leona reunited with her children.  And she once again took the last name of Vendasi, keeping it for the rest of her life.  She passed away in 1966 in a Dover nursing home. 

    Leona’s life story suggests both hardship and heartache—adopted into a family with few resources, unmarried and pregnant, losing her mother, two unhappy marriages, and struggling financially for much of her life.  Her children all survived her well into this century, and what is known of their lives seems to reflect more stability and well-being than that of their parents. 

    Alfred Vendasi (1919–2010).  Freddy left the Newmarket school system after 8th grade and worked in the shoe shops in town, and he remained in the shoe industry for the rest of his life.  He moved to Dover and lived with his mother, caring for her until her death.  Freddy was a dance fanatic—especially the jitterbug. Dance floors throughout the Seacoast would clear a spot when he showed off his nimble moves, oftentimes dancing with two women at once.        

           

    William Vendasi (1922-2010). Bill remembers being so poor during the early part of the Depression that he that didn’t have a pair of shoes to wear to school.  During his school years he was known as a hellion and always on the streets.  By 1940, Bill had struck out on his own; at age 20 he lived on Main Street and worked at the Navy Yard.  He later enlisted in the US Army, serving for three years (1942-1945).   After the war he married.  A mechanic working and living in Dover, he and his wife stayed for several years with his mother and siblings until they started their own family.   Bill remained a lifetime member of the Newmarket American Legion Post 67.  

    Virginia Grassi (Frew, Knox) (1925-2015).  For young Gina, her experience at St. Charles Orphanage must have resonated. She remained very religious throughout her life.  

    Still in her teens, she worked at the Navy Yard during World War II.   Much later she would retire from working at Dover City Hall.  She married James Frew and raised two daughters.  After James’ death in 1974, she remarried John Knox who died in 2012. 

    Anita and Richard, born after the family’s Newmarket years, were Leona’s other children. 

                                                                                                  

    The Bouras Family and the Immigrant Dream

    Born in 1899 in Areara, Greece, Nicholas Bouras was 15 years old when he immigrated to the US in 1914.  Two years later, his future wife Jane (“Jennie”) arrived from Greece at the age of 12.  They married in 1923 in Lowell, MA.   They promptly moved to Newmarket where Nicholas and his brother Theodore had purchased the Vendasi property in 1921.

    The following year, George (the first of their three children) was born.  Helen followed in 1927, and their youngest son Aristotle was born in 1930.  All three grew up and attended school here in Newmarket.  In addition to raising her children, Jennie was one of Newmarket’s many married “unpaid family workers” working side by side with her husband to make a family business viable.  After the strike and the departure of NMCo, and during the Great Depression, there must have been some challenges. 

    Both Nick and Jennie engaged with their adopted town. Jennie was an active member of the Newmarket Woman’s Club.  She and her husband held their 25th wedding anniversary as an Open House at the Ice Cream Parlor in Newmarket.  In 1944 Nicholas was a member of the “Postwar World Organization Planning Board of New Hampshire”.  [9]

    After purchasing Primo Vendasi’s shoe repairing business, Nick continued shoe and harness repair; and he opened a fruit, confectionary and tobacco store in the same building.

    In July 1926 the Bouras brothers Nicholas and Theodore announced plans to open a restaurant here in connection with their Olympia Confectionery Store.  By 1927, this was known as ‘The Bouras Building.’

    The Bouras restaurant and ice cream shop became a main feature of downtown for decades—from the late 1920s up until the early 1960s.  During World War II it was a major dropoff and pickup spot on the Filion Navy Yard bus route as it took shift workers to and from the Portsmouth Navy Yard.

    The above photo was  taken of the Bouras Ice Cream Bar in 1944 by George Bouras.  From Left: Milton Kimball, Judge Bartlett Griffin, [man with cup not identified]. Aristotle Bouras (at age 14 taking notes for the newspaper), Helen Bouras, Nick Bouras, Eva Demers Carmichael (just off work as a crane operator at the Navy Yard), and Nick’s wife Jennie Bouras.

    “A  popular specialty at the ice cream shop:  “The Mountain Top”  — Nick would take a paper cone-shaped cup from the despenser, fill it with ice cream and stick a wooden dowel into it.  After freezing it, he removed the paper, dipped the ice cream in melted chocolate and then refroze it until the choclolate was firm — and voila — ”The Mountain Top”!    They flew out of the freezer  in the afternoon as soon as the High School  let out. “  — as told by George Walker,  an avid consumer of Nick’s speciality.

    Because of the popularity of the Bouras children, a lot of teens hung out at the soda fountain after school and on weekends, where there was always a jukebox playing and pinball machines going off.  The place and the people were recollected fondly by George Walker:

    “Boogie Woogie,” “Jive,” & “Swing”….these dominated the popular music scene as it moved through the WWII era.  When my era came along, those recreational dance styles were still hanging on, as were the waltz, fox trot and polka. The jitterbug was in style, and rock ‘n roll was beginning to roll.  Blue suede & penny loafers along with white bucks were ’the thing’ in shoes, and Bouras Ice Cream Parlor was still there— with the jukebox, pinball machine, cherry cokes, frappes, and homemade chocolate covered ice cream on a stick called mountain tops—the stereotypical soda fountain.   Mr. and Mrs. Bouras (aka/Nicholas & Jane/Nick & Jennie) provided a healthy atmosphere. We often referred to them as Nick & Mrs. Nick.  

    When we got too noisy Nick would just simply say…”take a valk, take a valk.” [10] 

    Nick and Jennie must have valued education, as all three Bouras children graduated from high school and went on for higher education.   

    George Bouras —graduated from Newmarket High School in 1942 and entered UNH. In March 1943 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps.   Assigned as a navigator with the 15th Air Force serving in Italy during WWII, he completed 29 missions on a B24 Liberator and engaged in raids over Germany, Italy, Austria, Yugoslavia and Hungary.   He held a Purple Heart, an Air Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. 

    After his discharge in 1945, George returned to UNH under the GI Bill, earning both bachelors and master’s degrees.  He taught high school in Bridgewater, MA before going back to college, graduating in 1955 from the University of VT College of Medicine.  He was an ophthalmologist, and lived for a time in Rochester, NH, with his parents living nearby.  George later joined  anesthesiology staffs in Milwaukee, Worcester, MA and Kingston, NY hospitals.  He was married and had two daughters. 

    Helen Bouras graduated from Newmarket High School and McIntosh College.  By 1944 she was working for the IRS Office in Portsmouth; she later worked at UNH.  But Helen was no homebody—during the 1950s she moved out west.  She was employed as a secretary for the Utah Mining Company in California when, through her brother Aristotle, she met Ralph B. Johnson. It was love at first sight, and in 1960 they got married.  As her husband was engaged in various tool and hardware businesses, the family moved from California to Colorado to Wyoming, before finally settling in Oregon.  They had two sons. 

    Aristotle Bouras began reporting for the Newmarket News at age 12.  His talent and reputation spread rapidly:  in the fall of 1943 (before entering high school) he became the  newspaper’s editor—the youngest editor of a newspaper in the state.    Aristotle did his newspaper work at the ice cream parlor on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.  

     He graduated from Newmarket High School with highest honors in 1948.   In 1950, he toured Europe and the Mideast, stopping in Greece to meet his aged grandparents for the first time. 

    Aristotle received a BA from California State College, Fresno, California in 1953, and later  graduated from the University of Denver with a Masters in Library Science. While working at the Denver Public Library in 1955, he met and married Lenore Knoebber.  He worked as a librarian in Fresno, CA, followed by 14 years with the College Library of San Mateo, CA.

    As an instructor at the San Mateo College in 1964 he publicly and successfully worked to defeat a proposal endorsing segregated housing and education.  He was President of the San Mateo Toastmaster Club for several years prior to his sudden death in 1972, leaving behind a son and a daughter.  He is buried in Dover with his parents.

    The Spa and the Williams Family

    After Nick Bouras retired, the ice cream parlor was taken over by Joseph C. and Bertha Williams.  Bertha had been born in Newmarket.  Her parents, William and Anna Peck moved to the Utica, NY area after the mills closed.  There she met Joseph and they married in 1934, remaining in Utica until after World War II.  They returned to Newmarket and ran the ice cream parlor for nine years under the name of “The Spa”.  Joseph and Bertha became longtime residents of Newmarket, living at 12 Elm Street.  After the Spa closed Bertha worked in the shoe shop, and Joseph was employed by the Manchester Music Company, servicing vending machines in the NH seacoast.  Bertha died in Newmarket in 1970 at the age of 59; Joseph died in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada in 1983 at age 76.  Joseph and his wife are buried in Calvary Cemetery.  At the time of their deaths they were survived by four sons— Peter Gerard (AKA Jerry), David, Edward, and Robert. 

    Ken’s “Centre Spa” and the Tilton Family

     Kenneth and Carrie Tilton moved to town and purchased the business.  The accompanying ad for Ken’s Center Spa ran in the Newmarket Times in 1963. Carrie became the owner/manager of Ken’s Centre Spa of Newmarket.  She ran the business for several years in the 1960s.  They had two children (Wayne and Leah) who went to Newmarket High School; and another generation of Newmarket kids enjoyed the same jukebox and pinball machines as did kids in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.  

    The building had been vacant for several years prior to 1979 when Dr. Richard Candee compiled his documentation for the Newmarket Historic District.   It was owned at that time by P. Frank Patti and Donald Craig of Andover, Mass.

    Other Businesses Here

    With the influx of Southeast Asian immigrants to town in the 1970s, for a brief time in the mid 1980’s this building housed an Asian Market.  No longer did Newmarket residents have to travel to Lawrence or Lowell; they could now buy their favorite Asian foods close to home.  There was always a bucket of chicken feet greeting you as you walked in the door.  

    Another short-lived business here was the Lamprey River/Village Pharmacy.

    Geeks To You.

    This building now houses a computer repair business—a far cry from harnesses and ice cream.  Taken from their 2021 website:

    Geeks to You Technology was founded 10 years ago by a long-term local - Rod Ricard III. After working out of his house for a few years he decided to do both his wife and himself a favor by opening a storefront location in Newmarket, NH.  Years later they are still around offering the best computer services in the area.

     

     

    Footnotes:

    1] More about Mrs. S.E.W. Creighton at Site No. 20, across the street.

    [2] Site No. 32 has the story of Wiggin Doe, whose stubbornness gained him quite a name.

    [3] Nellie Palmer George, Old Newmarket. p. 126

    [4] Electricity in town was brand new in 1900.  This was a big deal.  The library stocked books on the topic.

    [5] Newmarket Advertiser, July 18, 1902 – reported that the new post office had opened on Monday morning in the Caswell Building.

    [6] Newmarket Advertiser, Feb. 20 and Nov. 27, 1903

    [7] Census, birth and death records show Alex and Leoni being adoptive parents of a son, William, who married in 1904 at the age of 18.  There is also a record of a 1902 Newmarket-issued death certificate for five-year-old Annie, the Boston-born daughter of Alex Arcand and his wife “Louis” (a mis-reading of Leoni’s French name?).   Leona’s census information shows her to have been born in Boston as well.

    [8] Not yet married, it’s possible that Leona went to a Boston convent that housed unwed mothers, where babies were often put up for adoption.  Was this where Leona and little five-year-old Annie had come from?

     [9] Nick and Jennie moved to the Dover area after retiring and selling the business.  In 1956 he was proprietor of the Somersworth Shoe Hospital.  He died in 1966. Jennie passed away in 1984; she and Nicholas are both buried in the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cemetery in Dover.

     [10] George Walker, New Market Historical Society