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    Site Number 6.  At some point after his marriage to Mary Davis in 1767, Wentworth Cheswill moved his family to a house here, but there is no evidence that he built it.  In fact, his “mansion house,” with its central chimney, protective stone garrison-type wall and asymmetrical window arrangement looked more like New England houses of a bygone era.  These old structures were often known as “mansion houses.”.

    As Newmarket historian John Herman noted Wentworth would have been a year out of school, a school master, and we already know that he first lived in the home of his birth near Moonlight Bridge. I think the house he moved to was built in 1740 or earlier.

    While we don’t know who built the house, the Cheswill family owned it and lived in it for many years. Wentworth Cheswill passed away in 1817, and his wife Mary died 12 years later.  Ownership stayed within the family although they didn’t continue to live in it.  It was rented to John and Bertha Palmer, and their daughter was born and grew up there.  Nellie Palmer George’s 1919 article “The Mansion House of Wentworth Cheswill” described her childhood home.  She wrote in detail about the kitchen: “Into the great fireplace a grown man could have walked without stooping…[but] In cold weather the stove and fire-place doing their level best could not remove the frost from the kitchen windows.” 

    In 1867 the property went to one of Cheswill’s grandsons, John Smart.  A skilled carpenter, John dismantled his grandfather’s house and built a new one.  He also built the house directly to the right of the Cheswill Cemetery. 

    The Cheswill estate had many acres of land and there was a huge barn next to the house. John and his wife Frances owned it all for 25 years before selling it to their nephew Elmer Smart.   In 1898, lightning struck the barn, burning it to the ground.  Elmer Smart rebuilt it and sold the estate to Edwin Carpenter. 

    In 1912 the new barn burned down, and Edwin’s second wife Laura put her foot down. If he was going to rebuild the barn, she wanted a new house.  Edwin moved John Smart’s 40-year-old house a few hundred feet and set it down on Packers Falls Road.  It’s still there, converted into apartments.   Laura’s new house is still here.

    Not long after, Edwin passed away, and his son Jesse inherited the estate—which was immense. The land stretched down Packers Falls Road beyond the Piscassic River.   Jesse kept a sawmill, a shingle mill, two large apple orchards and a herd of dairy cattle.  

    The next owners were Jesse’s daughter Katherine and her husband.  In 1978 the barn burned down.  They did not replace it.  By 2001, Richard Alperin had purchased this house.  His research and efforts led to renewed interest in Wentworth Cheswill and to the restoration of the Cheswill Cemetery.

    For the next site, continue on South Main Street.  It’s not far, just on the corner.

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

    Site # 6 (204 So. Main St.)  SITE OF THE CHESWILL MANSION (Before 1800 - 1870)


    On September 13, 1767, Wentworth Cheswill married Mary Davis of Durham.  Thirteen children were born to them. They made their first home on the west side of the Piscassic, beside Moonlight Bridge.  That house was later given to his son Thomas.

    At some point the family moved into what became known as the “Wentworth Cheswill Mansion.” It was situated on the foundation of what is today 204 South Main Street.  Local Newmarket historian Nellie Palmer George (1850-1939) was born and grew up in the Cheswill house; and thanks to her we have a detailed description of it.  While its construction has traditionally been attributed to Wentworth Cheswill, there is no documentation that he built it, its style does not match that of other late 18th century houses, and it certainly doesn’t resemble the work that his father Hopestill was doing in Portsmouth.   As a matter of fact, Mrs. George’s description more closely matches structures of an earlier era.

    • Her article about the house (published in the Granite Monthly in 1919) is titled “The Mansion House of Wentworth Cheswill”; and her choice of words suggests a much older house.  In an online description of colonial houses, Historic New England makes note that “mansion house” was a common label for colonial houses in the early- to mid-1700s.
    • Mrs. George described a four-foot stone wall along the front of the house, which “projected from the house and was topped with a slanting roof not more than two feet wide.  This roofed wall seemed a part of the house.”  This suggests a so-called “Indian Wall”—which would date the house’s construction earlier in the 18th century.
    • Her description of the kitchen and the placement of the huge central chimney is also telling, as center chimneys in New England were most often found in pre-1750 structures.
    • She described the window placement as not being symmetrical: two windows above and below on one side of the front door; one window above and below on the other side.  New construction colonial houses of adult-Wentworth’s era and location rarely looked like this—but they did 20 to 30 years earlier.

    More recent research by Newmarket historian John Herman yields another clue to when Wentworth Cheswill’s “mansion house” may have been built:

    • So many of the unique/odd things Nellie Palmer George describes are extremely close to the McClary Homestead in Epsom which in an 1893 article was even described as a “mansion” house.  That “mansion” is greatly different from the stately buildings that Hopestill Cheswill was constructing in Portsmouth only 10 to 15 years after the Epsom homestead was built. Built in 1740, this Epsom saltbox nails the look and design almost perfectly. It even has a four-foot hidden brick wall on the front side beneath the clapboards to protect the inhabitants from Native American raids.

    After Wentworth Cheswill’s death in 1817, the “mansion house” stayed within the family via three of his daughters—Martha, Mary and Mehitable.  At that time, he owned all the land bordering on the Wadley’s Falls Road from here at 204 South Main Street west to Moonlight Bridge. After the passing of his wife Mary in 1829, the house was willed to her three daughters who were living with her:  Sarah (d. 1829), Abigail (d. 1855) and Martha (d. 1867).  In Martha’s will, the estate (house and property) went to John Perkins, the son of Mary Cheswill Perkins.

    John Perkins immediately sold it the same day to another Wentworth Cheswill grandson, John W. Smart and his wife Frances (Deed 422-333/dated 22 Nov 1867).  The son of Mehitable Cheswill and John Smart Sr. he was a sought-after carpenter in town.  By 1870, he had dismantled his grandfather’s old “mansion house”.  He then built another house on the same site.  He also built the house-still standing today - just north of the Cheswill cemetery.

    John and Frances transferred the property in 1892 to his nephew Elmer who was an attorney in Rochester.  [Elmer J. & Minnie G. Smart (Deed 547-62/dated 3 Mar 1892)].  John Smart died in 1896, followed by Frances in 1901. 

    Elmer Smart had lived here with his uncle as a boy, he had gone to Newmarket High School, and he was already storing 35 tons of hay and other property in the barn.  During his ownership of the estate, he sold house lots along “Cemetery Road” – as Packers Falls Rd. used to be known.

    One stormy day in September 1898, the barn was struck by lightning and completely consumed by fire.  Elmer had the barn rebuilt and sold the property (568-311/dated 1 May 1899).

    (photo of the house built by John Smart. Originally it was on the site of the old Cheswill mansion.  Edwin Carpenter had it removed in 1913 to its prseent location at 3 Packers Falls Road)



    Carpenter Family Ownership of the Property

    Edwin Carpenter moved into the house in May 1899.  In 1910 he divested himself of farming, and all his attention went into his lumbering business.[1]  He had a sawmill on the property and woodlots in Lee.  From an article in the Newmarket Advertiser dated Nov 25, 1910: 

    “Edwin S Carpenter will go to Maine this winter to look after his extensive lumber interests there, and as he will not be in town he has decided to sell his livestock, farming tools, etc. at auction on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 10 o’clock a m, at his residence.   Among the livestock are 16 cows, one bull, 2 pairs good work horses, 22 sheep, etc.  Also various vehicles, harnesses, etc.   Lunch will be served at noon.  Sale positive, rain or shine.  W. A. Plumer, auctioneer” 

     In the  the summer of 1912, another fire destroyed the newly built barn.  Edwin’s second wife Laura was adamant that if he was going to build a new barn, she wanted a new house.  The following June, he moved by oxen the house built by John W. Smart a couple hundred feet to face Packer’s Falls Road, where it remains today.  Once inspected at its new location, such care had been taken during the move, that not even one crack appeared in plaster .   

    The home that he built in its place is what you see at 204 South Main Street today

    Before his death in 1914, he also built a much larger barn.  In 1919, Edwin’s son Jesse Carpenter built the large front veranda on the house.  Edwin’s second wife Laura was the administratrix of his will, and transferred the property—house, barn and 120 acres to Jesse in 1920. (Deed 692-397/dated 8 Jun 1920).  

    Edwin’s grandson Royce Carpenter lived nearby.  He later reflected on his grandfather Edwin: 

    My grandfather had moved to Newmarket in the 1880s.  He had three portable sawmills… big fire in 1910s… all animals buried on Pigeon Hill… Fire was “the end of the old man.”  … Had owned the Paul Chapman House, the Gregory House, the Rodrigues House and the Miesowicz house – then all mortgaged!   Laura dealt in real estate herself; in 1908 she bought Trotter Park from Doctor Samuel Greene, and sold it in 1922 to Wojciech Gazda.

    Jesse kept the sawmill and board yard, and a shingle mill.  He also kept two large apple orchards and reinvested in a substantial dairy herd.  Later the house passed from Jesse’s widow Anne to her daughter and son-in-law Katherine and Gordon Rodrigues.  The third barn — a landmark on South Main Street for over sixty years—was completely destroyed by yet another fire in 1978.  The heat was so great from that fire, that it blistered the paint on the town fire engine.  No barn has since been rebuilt. 

     In 2001, the house’s new owner Richard Alperin became curious abiut the history of the house.  His research led to the iniative that publicized Cheswill’s legacy anew, and restored the cemetery (Site No.5)