BUSINESS LEADERS OF LISBON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - 100 YEARS AGO
(Presented to Lisbon Main Street, Inc., Volunteer Recognition Dinner, March 19, 2016 by Andrea M. Fitzgerald, Lisbon Area Historical Society
Over one hundred years ago, the leaders of Lisbon were photographed by Lisbon photographer, Irving James, and their images were put together in a 1913 “class picture.” This compilation represents the core group of NINETY-ONE men who were responsible for the tremendous growth of Lisbon from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s. In 1913, the population of Lisbon was almost 2,500, and there were over 250 houses. Lisbon boasted a new $50,000 public school building on Highland Avenue, with ten teachers and 300 pupils, a prosperous bank in the old YMCA building on Main Street (with a capital of $50,000, a surplus of $56,000, and deposits of $750,000), an opera house in the c. 1902 town hall, with two dramatic companies, two busy railroad depots, a busy and thriving main street with countless stores and shops, small factories, two gold crushing mills, art studios, a printing office, a dentist, a district nursing association, architects, doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, barbers, an undertaker, six churches, one of the most modern and convenient post offices north of Concord, a fire department, tarred roads, concrete sidewalks, town water and sewerage, two power plants, street lights, two of the four shoe peg mills in the country, the very successful industries of New England Electrical Works (today’s New England Wire Technologies) andParker Young Company, and flourishing organizations such as the Masons, Odd Fellows, Order of the Eastern Star, the Grange, Board of Trade, YMCA, Grand Army of the Republic, women’s auxiliaries, and the Friends in Council women’s club.
These men walked or took a buggy, carriage, or wagon or maybe a car, to their places of business downtown. They congregated at the center of town known as Lisbon Square. They met upstairs in blocks where they were members of social or service organizations, at church, at the post office, at the railroad station, and at the barber shop. While there is no photographic compilation of the women of the time, we know that they were busy making their own mark on the town in positions on the school board, in social and service organizations, and in church. Of all the local organizations these men and women fostered over one hundred years ago, only one still continues, and that is Friends in Council, founded in 1897. Lisbon native and Concord resident, Mary Parker Woodworth, was the driving force behind the plea for Lisbon to join in the pioneer women’s club movement. The Friends in Council’s 50 charter members started out with a mission to be a literary, social, and philanthropic group, and in the 1930s had a record membership of 90.
There are so many great stories to go with every individual photographed, both of background and influence in our town and their ongoing legacies. I’ll share a few of my favorites.
At the top of the picture is one of the most prominent Lisbon leaders, Augustus A. Woolson (1835-1918), whose father, Amos, came from Bethlehem to the Savageville section of Lisbon in 1810. Amos was a cooper, shoemaker, and tailor who in 1849 built the building that we know as Marshalls’ Family Drug Store. Augustus grew to be a leader in our town including serving as moderator for over 30 years. He was the founder of the original Lisbon library on North Main Street, water works, bank, and 1891 high school. Augustus owned an insurance and real estate company in the Parker Block with his nephew Augustus Clough, a peg mill, the Breezy Hill House summer hotel, and the large Wells and Woolson general store, which housed the Lisbon Town Hall upstairs. It was destroyed in the 1901 fire. Wells and Woolson was on the site of today’s Parker Block. Augustus held many positions at the local and state level, including Speaker of the House of Representatives. In the 1870s, he built a remarkable Stick-Style home with a large barn on a terraced lot above Water Street overlooking the Ammonoosuc River. His home was later used by the local American Legion post and The Lisbon Outing Club and is now the home of Chris Trudell. Augustus never married. He had two major disabilities few even knew about. He had vision in only one eye due to a boyhood accident, and he suffered a lung ailment most of his life. His insurance agency was sold to Fred Weston, then Charlie Besaw, who sold out to George M. Stevens Insurance which is still in the Parker Block today.
Herbert Bigelow Moulton (1846-1928) was born on the family homestead on Moulton Hill in Lyman and educated locally. His father was killed when felling a tree, and Moulton became the man of the house to his mother and seven siblings. Moulton built up a large and lucrative trade in the lumber and livestock business and later became a stockholder, treasurer, director and President of Parker Young Company and President of Jamaica Glove Company which was at one time in the old Granite State Wire building on Whitcher Street, now a warehouse for Connors White Mountain Footwear. Moulton served in the NH Legislature and on the Governor’s Council and was also Director and President of Lisbon Savings Bank. Moulton put in $10,000 to rebuild Lisbon’s Brigham’s Hotel after the great fire of 1901, the new hotel being named “The Moulton,” which opened in 1903. Moulton sold the hotel after several years to Edwin Morse, and it was lost to fire again in 1922 and rebuilt by Ralph Olney who built it up to become one of the best small hotels in New Hampshire. It is now the Lisbon Inn, the only property in Lisbon on the National Register of Historic Places. Moulton also gave land and $15,000 to help build the Lisbon Public Library in 1926, across from the town hall, as well as giving the funds to build the Parish House for the Lisbon United Congregational Church. Moulton was married but never had children. He built the house on Main Street, across from the information booth which was later owned by Pillsbury Funeral Home, andhe built a mansion on Park Ridge. He died on Christmas Day, 1928. Moulton’s widow offered the property as a hospital for the town, which was refused, and it was torn down in the 1940s.
George Brummer (1835-1924) was a German immigrant who came to Lisbon in 1859 from Massachusetts where he and his family had emigrated five years earlier to join relatives. Just their ship voyage itself is a story of survival. There were 200 passengers on the ship and only one cook stove. Some of the Brummers’ personal food was stolen, there were heavy storms, and the ship caught on fire three times. When the Brummers arrived in New York, a pick pocket took their father’s money. Then the family boarded the wrong train and traveled 40 miles in the wrong direction. George began his tailoring business in Massachusetts where he saw Lisbon native, Lavina Smith, demonstrating a sewing machine in a storefront. He ended up marrying her, and they moved back to her hometown. George immediately went to work tailoring in a shop in the Hutchins Block, which once stood on the site of today’s Chevron Park. He became a naturalized citizen in 1862. Several years later, he purchased a neighboring block which was named the Brummer Block, where he and his family lived upstairs, and he carried on his tailoring business which became the largest tailoring business in the North Country, at one time employing nine tailors in the shop and in their homes. George Brummer was prosperous enough to purchase a mansion on a bluff above the town hall where other business leaders had built impressive homes. George and his descendants stayed in business on Main Street for 77 years. The block was torn down years ago and is now a public parking lot beside Chevron Park. George was a civic leader and active in the Lisbon Methodist Church and the Masons. He was one of the founders of the Lisbon Savings Bank and Trust Company and the Lisbon Power and Light Company, serving as a director for both, and he was a long-time member of the Lisbon Board of Education and Grove Hill Cemetery Association. The one thing he never did was serve in the Civil War, because of his diminutive stature. His historic Masonic funeral procession made a line from the town hall, across the bridge, and over to Lisbon Square. George’s son, Karl, continued his tailoring business and active social and civic duties. Karl was a talented musician and was part of Brummer’s Orchestra and the town band which played at many events in Lisbon and the area. One historic appearance of Brummer’s band was to accompany enlisting WWI soldiers in 1918 across the bridge, through the square, and up to the Lisbon Depot for their farewell. This photo represents the strong community spirit of the town at that time and the importance of the busy depot as a hub of the town. One of the enlistees, Timothy Dickinson, never came home. He was killed in France. Lisbon’s first American Legion Post was named for Dickinson and later the Sweet name was added to the Post after the Sweet brothers lost their lives in WWII.
Sylvanus D. Morgan (1857-1940), commonly referred to as S. D., came to Lisbon in 1891 to build a new Lisbon Public School on Highland Avenue. He was born in Maine, and by the time he was 14 he was an orphan, his parents and six siblings all having died from tuberculosis. He walked 150 miles from Maine to live with relatives in Hooksett, N.H. where he worked in the mills. His health suffered, so someone urged him to go to the White Mountains. He ended up in Bethlehem where he learned the hotel business and began building as a genius, self-taught architect. He was one of the most prolific White Mountain Resort builders, and a few of his many accomplishments include The Balsams expansion, the Mt. Washington Hotel expansion, the Glencliff Sanatorium, Memorial Hospital in North Conway, banks in Newport, Newbury, and Wells River, Vermont, the 1905 Profile House in Franconia Notch, the Bethlehem Golf Course clubhouse, enlargements and renovations of area establishments, the third Mt. Washington Summit House, and supervisor of rebuilding the Tip Top House. In Lisbon, he built the Boynton and Bank Blocks and the Congregational Church parish house as well as additions to New England Wire and Lisbon Manufacturing Company. He is credited with opening up the west side of Lisbon by building a good number of distinctive homes on Armstrong Avenue and Highland Avenue including his own cottage across from the school. At S. D.’s Highland Avenue home, he pre-fabricated the 1915 Mt. Washington Summit House, transporting it to the base by train, then to the summit by the Cog Railway, and to the site by wagon. One of the many homes Morgan built was a duplex for Ben Webb and Will Price, founders of New England Electrical Works. Webb and Price lived in the duplex the rest of their lives. It was later sold to the Catholic Church and then the Lisbon Public School where it is now used as storage and referred to as “the annex.” S. D. financed the popular S. D. Morgan & Son store in the Parker Block which was operated by his son, George, from 1906-1948.
Lawrence Goudie (1855-1930) was born on the Shetland Islands and immigrated with his family to Quebec in 1873. He came to Lyman to work as a farmhand and married Alma Thornton, a descendant of Matthew Thornton and some of the first settlers of Lisbon. Lawrence and Alma moved to Lisbon where he became a general contractor. He helped build the original wire mill building and subsequent additions, the Lisbon Town Hall (for $28,000), Lisbon Public Library, the Parker Block, the United Congregational Church, numerous local homes, tenements on Atwood Street, an addition to the Lisbon Public School, a bank in Berlin, N.H., hospitals in Whitefield and St. Johnsbury, and the Methodist church in Penacook. He built the Goudie Block on Main Street in 1903. It is the middle building between Depot and Central Streets, across from the Boynton Block. The Goudie Block was built out to the sidewalk out of spite to block the view of the house to the south, at the corner of Main Street and Central Street, because the owner had not paid Goudie for contracting services.
George A. Clark (1864-1957) was born in Center Haverhill, N.H., and operated a horse business in Bath on the site of today’s Twin River Lodge. In 1892 a disgruntled hired man burned the whole farm down, and G. A. lost everything including a six-horse team he was training for delivery to Mt. Washington. The next morning, G. A. purchased a property in Lisbon at the end of North Main Street, a farm and former girls’ school located on the site above today’s wire mill soccer field and parking lot. He continued in the horse business shipping in and training horses. By 1915, G. A. was in the automobile business and still selling carriages, sleighs, blankets and buffalo robes. G. A. was also a director of Parker Young Company and also bought and sold local real estate. His brother, Eugene owned the property beside him, a large dairy farm. Eugene was also a coal, wood, and cattle dealer. His farm was later owned by the Fogg family and in the late 1970s it was sold to New England Wire and torn down for manufacturing expansion. Eugene’s son, George E. Clark, was a WWI veteran, served as town moderator for 28 years, and owned Merrill’s Insurance Agency in Lisbon. In 1952, G. A.’s grandson, Frank G. Clark Jr., took over the automobile business and was the original Pontiac dealer in Lisbon. In 1993, after more than 100 years in business, Clark’s Garage closed, and the property was sold to New England Wire Technologies for storage and metal fabrication space. All the buildings were demolished for parking space in late 2015, and one cinder block building remains.
The Clark and Goudie families eventually continued businesses together. Lawrence Goudie’s son, George, opened Goudie’s Hardware in the Masonic Block on North Main Street in 1919. His son, Robert, purchased the store from his father in 1954 and went into business with brothers Frank and Bill Clark in 1956, and the name was changed to Clark-Goudie Hardware. The business was sold in the 1970s. Clark-Goudie also had stores on both sides of the hardware store. One was an appliance store in the Corey Block to the south, and the other was a second-hand store in the Carleton Block to the north. The Masonic Block and Corey Block were torn down in the early 1980s.
There are so many more people who left their mark on Lisbon: Joe Puglisi, an Italian immigrant, who was a shoe and clothing shop owner for over 50 years in the Parker Block; storeowner, Arthur Sherman who bought out Sherman & Moulton, the site of today’s Northrop’s Market, a block he shared with Joe Roman, another Italian immigrant who operated a fruit store next to Sherman’s (upstairs was a Chinese laundry!). The Sherman block burned in 1941. Fred Heath, the wallpaper hanger; Henry Suttie, the local barber who advertised his “tonsorial parlour” under the post office in the Boynton Block, a popular hangout with the locals who played pool and cards. Most had they own personal shaving cup; Russell Bishop, the teamster, who advertised that he drew everything but a salary, had his picture taken with New England Wire employees sitting and standing in his wagon, with one holding his whip. He also had a rooming house and garage rental with his wife, Susie, on Main Street (the house was later owned by the Brummer family beside the new post office and torn down for parking by New England Wire) ; Truman Glover, the White Mountain Ice Cream magnate with a factory behind today’s library, whose rich ice cream was known for its high fat content and delivered to White Mountain Resorts for the discriminating palates of the wealthy summer folk – but it was also enjoyed by the locals!; Fred Parker, the popular shopkeeper who had Parker’s store in the Parker Block which was built for him in 1902. Seth Hoskins, who also had a mansion on Park Ridge, owned Sunset Hill House; H. C. Marston, owner of Marston’s Gilt Edge Pharmacy where the Family Drug store used to be located; Carl Carleton, local undertaker and furniture store owner. The Carleton Block is now the Lisbon Health Clinic building. E. R. Forbush, jeweler, also sold souvenir Lisbon china made in Germany; and Arthur Buffington, printer and newspaper publisher, who married Herbert Moulton’s widow, Nell, who left money for Lisbon’s Nell Buffington Trust Fund, which assists eligible Lisbon residents with hospital costs.
These past leaders of Lisbon left their mark in one way or another. The only original existing business is New England Wire, but we have many buildings which once housed the countless businesses of these men. Some of their stately homes still exist, many up on hills which were impassable in bad winter weather. A series of stairs went from School Street and Water Street up to the mansions on the bluff. All their homes had barns or carriage houses to house their horses and buggies, dependable modes of transportation when cars couldn’t make it up the hills in bad weather. When one man was asked about the pinnacle of Lisbon’s success in the early 1900s, he said it was an ideal time, and the only drawback was the flies from the horses on Main Street. Lisbon was self-sufficient and prosperous, and the townspeople enjoyed the availability of everything they needed downtown until after WWII when our society became more mobile with the advance of the automobile and decline of the railroad. There is still the former potential for growth, however, and as our Town Administrator, Dan Merhalski says, “We just need to get others to see that and invest in the town.