Site No. 9: 184-186 Main Street.   If you were to look downhill from here in 1800, you would see apple orchards.  Nearly 300 years ago, in 1731 Col. Joseph Smith built his home here, along the Wadley cart path.  Back then it was on the outskirts of Lamprey River Village.  To provide protection from Indian raids, it was an impressive three-story brick garrison.  Luckily it was never attacked.  During the next half century, he and his wife Sarah Glidden raised 11 children here.  Their orchard and cemetery were on the hillside below, along with a path linking them to the “country road to Exeter.”

    Two hundred years ago Benjamin and Ruth Lovering owned the house and property, using it as a tavern. Cider was a staple drink in all households for both adults and children, and by 1823 what is now Tasker Lane was a cart way through “Lovering’s Orchard.” 

    Twelve years later, Dr. George Kittredge moved into the old brick garrison; he remained until his death.  He was a respected physician in town, leading parents like the Leavitts to name their son “George Kittredge Leavitt”.  And he was quite the politician, leading railroad power brokers to buy his land for the tracks running through Newmarket.  This intersection—close to town, next to the depot, and connecting to other towns—became a very busy place.  Welcome to Kittredge Square.

    By the time of Dr. Kittredge’s death in 1880, immigrants were providing much of the labor at the mills.  Irish workers came first, leading the Catholic Diocese to purchase the stone church up on Zion’s Hill.  Named after St. Patrick, it soon became both church and school for Newmarket’s Catholics. 

    By 1886, mill workers from Quebec were arriving with their families.  Newmarket’s Catholic congregation needed more space.  On behalf of the Church, Rev. Thomas Reilly purchased this property, and the old Smith garrison was torn down.  St. Mary Church opened on Christmas Eve, 1897.  And by 1910, St. Mary School was next door, staffed by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, newly arrived from the Diocese of Montreal.

    Fifty years ago, St. Mary School closed its doors.  In order to house the increased enrollment, the Newmarket School Board promptly rented the building.  The town’s 3rd, 4th and 5th graders studied here and had recess outside –unless there was a funeral that day.  In 1987 a new public elementary school was completed—the same year that Newmarket’s old town hall burned to the ground. 

    Welcome to Town Hall!

    Continue down Main Street.  Site No. 10 is on the left, just before South Street.

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

    Site No. 9: (184-86 Main St.) KITTREDGE SQUARE.  1731—garrison with orchards; 1835 Dr. Kittredge & the railroad; 1900s Catholic church & school. Town Hall—1987.

    Colonel Joseph Smith Garrison 1731-1910

    Today as you stand in front of the Newmarket Town Hall looking south down the hill towards Exeter, it is hard to imagine that this spot in the very early 1800s was covered with apple orchards. 

    Colonel Joseph Smith (1701-1782) was born in the Lubberland garrison on Bay Road. His family was involved with the Oyster River Parish for almost 200 years.  When he built here (1729-31), he had come from a place along the shores of Great Bay where his family had experienced Indian warfare firsthand.  During the 1720s such attacks, kidnappings and killings continued to be frequent enough—and close enough—to be worrying.   

    It may be that Col. Smith’s wife Sarah Glidden had inherited this land.  An 1826 map indicates that “Glidden’s Cellar” was nearby.   In 1721 her father Andrew Glidden had acquired it from George Jeffrey of Portsmouth.  At that time the Wadley cart path led out this way, but there were no dwellings here.  The village’s Main Street was farther away, downhill by the “salt river.”

    Col. Smith wanted a safe, large garrison that would withstand an Indian attack, so he had it built out of bricks made by the brickyard on the banks of the Lamprey River.  As this would be a refuge for any or all who needed it, there was some urgency in getting it built quickly.  Rumors of raids prompted neighborhood women to don their leather aprons and carry bricks uphill from the yard to hasten completion of the garrison.

    He and Sarah lived for 50 years here along the path to Wadley’s Grant, raising their large family.  During that time, although there had been Indian sightings and alarms, this garrison was never attacked.

    He had twenty-one acres of surrounding fields that were farmed, with some orchards planted.  From time to time over the years he purchased more land; in 1738 he bought 82 contiguous acres which ran back to the Piscassic River, where Riverside cemetery now is.  He continued owning mills at the first falls of the Lamprey, and was very active in town affairs.  

    After Colonel Smith’s death, his youngest son Joseph sold the homestead to Benjamin Mead who owned the land along the easterly boundary, including part of the present downtown.  (Mr. Mead had an inn located where the Riverworks Tavern is today.)  He later turned the property over to his son John who later sold it to Major Benjamin Lovering.  The major used this old 3-story garrison as a tavern.  During this time he expanded the orchard fields surrounding the property.  Tasker Lane at that time was a cart path that went through “Lovering’s Orchard.”

    Apple orchards were extremely important in the colonial economy.    Nine days after the Puritans landed, a man by the name of William Blackstone planted the first apple trees in the New England colonies.  By 1775, one in ten New England families—most of them farmers—had a cider mill on their property.   Because they came from a culture where water wasn’t safe to drink, hard cider was a staple drink for both adults and children.  The apple crop was distilled by “jacking”, a form of freeze distilling:  hard cider/apple wine was left outside, and ice was taken off the top daily.  What was left was a concentrated alcohol.  

    The Newmarket Manufacturing Company purchased this property in the early 1820s.  The house with a much smaller plot of land was sold in 1835 to Dr. George Kitteridge.  

    Dr. George W. Kittredge (1805-1881)

    George Kittredge prepared for university at Phillips Exeter (NH) Academy and entered medical studies at Harvard College. He graduated in 1825 and practiced medicine in Newmarket for more than fifty years (1825 - 1878/9). He was born in Epping, NH, January 31, 1805.  His father, also a “Dr. Kittridge” of Epping, had eight sons, all of whom became physicians.

    He quickly became active in town politics and was elected In 1835 to the State House of Representatives… and again in 1847, 1848, and 1852; he served as Speaker of The House in 1852.  He was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-third US Congress (March 4, 1853-March 3, 1855); Chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Department of War (Thirty-third Congress); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1854 to the Thirty-fourth Congress and for election in 1856 to the Thirty-fifth Congress; resumed the practice of medicine; died in Newmarket, N.H., March 6, 1881; interment in Forest Hills Cemetery near Boston, MassDr. Kittredge was a director of the Boston & Maine Railroad Company for twenty years (1836 - 1856), and under his influence the railroad came through his land and on up into Maine.  That purchase by the railroad made him a wealthy man.  He was president of the Newmarket Savings Bank for forty years. His failing health compelled him to retire about two years before his death. When he died in Newmarket, March 6, 1881, aged seventy-five years he left an estate valued at about forty thousand dollars.  He never married.

    The old house was one of distinction when occupied by Dr. Kittredge.  It was well maintained, surrounded with flowering shrubs and trees.  There were barns and orchards out back.  He had no family, but doted on the village children.  Every morning on their way to school, they were allowed in his orchard to take all the plums, peaches and apples they could find “on the ground”.  He would make his rounds about the village visiting patients in his one-seated, two wheeled chaise.  He rarely entertained, and he did not have a “surgery” in his home.  

    After the railroad depot came into the Newmarket, the intersection in front of his home—from South Main Street to the railroad station—became known as “Kittredge Square”, a bustling area full of people and carriages.   

    After Dr. Kittredge died, the house was next occupied briefly by Henry H. Smith, the original builder’s great-grandson.  Once abandoned, children used to play around and inside the house.  

    Six years after Dr. Kittredge died the new Catholic priest Rev. Thomas A. Reilly arrived in town.   He purchased the old brick garrison at the head of Kittredge Square prior to March 1897.  The town had plans to widen the road and the ancient trees were cut down.  The old garrison, a town landmark for more than 150 years was razed to the ground.  But that area would be called “Kittredge Square” for many decades to come. 

    St. Mary Church

    St. Mary Church has been here for well over a century, but it was not the first Roman Catholic church in town.  Well before the Civil War a visiting priest would come to town every two weeks.  Father McDonnell is recorded as celebrating the first Mass in town in 1848. At first they met in a building previously used as a carpenter’s shop, near the railroad depot.  (It was later occupied by Thomas and John Griffin as a dwelling-house.)  

    In 1868 the Catholic Church purchased the Stone Meeting House on Zion Hill, The Rev. Father Walsh was their first pastor there, but  it was still considered a mission church, administered by the church in Exeter.

    Not until 1878 did it become an independent parish church, under Rev. John T. McDonnell.   By this time, the Catholic population of Newmarket had grown to “about 800” and most were Irish immigrants.  The Right Reverend James A. Healy, Bishop of Portland, Me, dedicated the church.  Other priests in attendance were Father McDonnell, Father Murphy of Haverhill, and Father O’Callaghan of Portsmouth.  

    In 1882, Rev. Cornelius O’Callaghan succeeded the first pastor. He remained but a few months and was succeeded by Rev. Dennis Ryan who redecorated the church. He was succeeded by Rev. Thomas A. Reilly in 1886.   

    The names of these Church leaders reflect the prevalence of Irish Catholics—as does the name chosen for that first parish church:  St. Patrick.  But that was about to change.  During the 1880s through the turn of the century, immigrants from French Canada came, bringing their families to work in the mills.  At some point, St. Patrick’s parish would become St. Mary Church.   

    Reverend Reilly continued as priest here for 25 years, leading the parish during a time of unprecedented growth.  In 1887 he enlarged the old stone church by adding the brick sacristy on the rear. He put in a basement and installed a heating system.  

    He also purchased the old Kittredge house on South Main Street.  In March 1897 the house was torn down, and the street was widened by the town.  For $600 he purchased the adjacent lot for a rectory—which was built and furnished at a cost of $4,000.

    The Catholic Church now possessed a handsome square of nearly 400 feet.  Construction of the present St. Mary’s Church began in March 1897.  And the parish, notwithstanding its increased possessions, was entirely free from debt.

    Quotations from the Newmarket Advertiser

    May 8, 1897 “The land formerly occupied by the Kittredge house is being leveled and graded for the new Catholic Church.”

    May 12, 1897:  “Work on widening the street where the old Kittredge house stood is being rapidly pushed.  The dirt excavated is being put on the roads and sidewalks and is much better than the sand  used heretofore.  O.  C.  Moulton of Dover has been awarded the contract for the new St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and will complete the job in about six months.  The building will be of wood and will cost in the vicinity of $12,000.”

    May 29, 1897:  “The road has been straightened near where the Kittredge house stood, and the sidewalk lowered to a level with the road.  It will make a great improvement to that part of town.”

    June 5, 1897:  “A concrete sidewalk and crossing is being laid from the railroad station to the sidewalk where the Kittredge house formerly stood.”

    June 26, 1897:  “Work has begun on the foundation of the new Catholic Church and some of the timber for the building has arrived.”

    July 31, 1897:  “Work on the new Catholic church is progressing rapidly.  The sides are up and nearly boarded in, and the timbers for the roof will be put in place by the last of the week.”

    September 10, 1897:  “George O. Hodgdon has secured the contract to paint the new Catholic Church.”  R.  Rev.  Dennis M. Bradley, Bishop of this Diocese, and Rev. Father Canning of Exeter visited Rev.  Father T. E. Reilly Monday and inspected the new Catholic church now being erected here.”

    November 13, 1897:  “John H. Griffin is building the furnace which will be placed in the new Catholic  church.”

    On Christmas Day, 1897 the church officially opened with its very first service: two morning masses with complete choir and a new organ made by Mason & Hamlin.  Jennie Auger had been a talented soprano in the church choir; she returned to Newmarket from Manchester to sing for the historic opening.  The stained-glass windows were memorials to the more affluent parishioners whose financial support made the construction of the new church possible.  Jennie’s father, Pierre Auger, the former owner of the Soap Factory on Packer’s Falls Road was among those honored.  He had died just the month before this historic celebration.

    Catholic Education in Newmarket

    By 1900, the growing number of Catholic families in Newmarket (due to the influx of French Canadians) were the impetus for having a new Catholic School, and Father Reilly set about to create just that.    St. Mary’s School was a magnificent brick structure on a granite foundation, affording a spacious parish hall and seven classrooms and accommodations for the teaching force of the school. Its estimated cost was $45,000. The school was finished in 1910. 

    This was the crowning work of Fr. Reilly’s pastorate, as well as his last here.  In October 1912 he was transferred to St. Mary’s of Dover, NH.  He was taken ill in September of 1914.  He died in a Montreal hospital the following March.  Father Reilly was buried from St. Mary’s in Newmarket in September 1918.  The church was covered in black funeral bunting.

    Completed in 1910, St. Mary’s parish school replaced the “Stone Church school.”  The first parish school for Newmarket Catholic children had opened in February 1886.  Thirty pupils were enrolled in this “French” school taught by a “Frenchman.”   (This prompted Newmarket selectmen to inform Father Reilly of the state requirement that students be proficient in English.)  

    At first, the old stone building on top of Zion’s Hill did it all—holding classes during the week and mass on Sundays.   Once St. Mary Church was completed, it must have been easier for the stone building to be just a school.   But student numbers continued to grow.  By the time the new school was completed in 1910, conditions must have been quite cramped. 

    A handsome brick structure on a granite foundation, it afforded a spacious parish hall and seven classrooms. Interior murals were painted by French Canadian artists.  Its estimated cost was $45,000.00. 

    St. Mary’s School ushered in a new era of Catholic education.  Up to three hundred children in grades 1-8 were taught here daily by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, an order that initially came from Montreal.  (See Site No. 3-Durell House for more information about the Sisters who taught in Newmarket.)

    The small playground was also the shared parking lot with the church.  If there was a funeral, a religious holiday, or a weekday mass —that meant no outdoor recess.  Children and staff were confined to the building.

    Over the years finding teaching nuns became more and more difficult, and repairs became more costly for the old building.   The Diocese would not pay for secular staff; indeed, the school relied almost entirely on local funding to operate.  This became economically unrealistic for the community, and St. Mary School closed its doors for good in 1972—thus bringing to an end eighty-six years of Catholic education in Newmarket.

    Change to a Public School

    The Newmarket school system immediately saw an influx of elementary age students.   An arrangement was made by which the parish rented the building to the town for $1; and the building continued as an elementary school, housing Grades 3, 4 and 5 for about 15 years, until September 1987 when the new elementary school opened to students, up the street from the Jr-Sr High School, off Grant Road.  

    A New Town Hall

    In September 1987, the same year that the new elementary school was completed, a fire destroyed the old town hall on Main Street. With the St. Mary’s school building empty, a temporary fix was to move town offices into that space.  

    After much debate and several studies, the temporary move became permanent. The building was renovated, made handicapped accessible and more energy efficient.  

    The cross was taken down from the roof and signs were changed.  Out back of the building a new parking lot was added, but Town and Church still share the Main Street parking lot and make accommodations as needed.