Todd Block

Site: N01-2
: Hinsdale, NH
: 27-31 Main Street (Route 119)
Site Type
: Commercial block
: (Zone 18) E: 705100. N: 4739975

National Register Nomination Information:


The Todd Block and International Order of Odd Fellows Hall (hereafter IOOF Hall), located in the heart of the central business district of Hinsdale, N. H., is a multi-purpose wood-frame historic building composed of two principal elements. The Todd Block (1862) is a rectangular two-story commercial block with slate roof, fronting (south) on Main Street, which is rendered in the French Second Empire architectural style. The IOOF Hall (1895), connected to the rear (north elevation) of the Todd Block, is a three-story former fraternal hall, irregular in plan and with a gable roof, executed in the vernacular Italianate style. This portion of the building carries a distinctive, ornate, Queen Anne style porch, supported on brackets, along the second story of the east elevation. The building, a major focal point of local commerce and fraternal activity in this Connecticut River Valley community for nearly 100 years, possesses integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, through its well-preserved site, distinctive architectural styles, and excellent physical condition.

The detailed description of the exterior of the building, which follows below, will be presented in two segments, for clarity of understanding. While the two building elements have been linked as one structure since 1895, the distinctive architectural styles, different number of stories and sequential positioning from the public right-of-way suggest this as a logical approach.

The Todd Block and IOOF Hall underwent Certified Rehabilitation in 1985, and was given final approval of this work on July 30, 1986.

Site Description:
The Todd Block and IOOF Hall is a freestanding building situated on a 27,782 square foot parcel of land on the north side of Main Street in the village center of Hinsdale, New Hampshire. The building, located on its original site, abuts Main Street on the south, and is flanked by a parking lot to the east, a two-story, gable-roofed, nineteenth-century commercial building to the west, and High Street on the north.

The historic Town Hall, Post Office, and the paper and woolen mills still stand largely intact on the bank of the Ashuelot River, across the street from the front of the building.

At the rear of the building is a small asphalted parking area; beyond this the terrain slopes steeply up to High Street, with evidence of ledge outcroppings. While there is no designated historic district, other surviving nineteenth-century buildings in the surrounding central business district continue to provide a historic context and contribute to preserving the setting, feeling, and association of the commercial and fraternal functions embodied in the Todd Block and IOOF Hall.

Detailed Description of Todd Block Exterior:
The earliest portion of the building, the Todd Block, erected in 1862, was designed for commercial stores on the first floor and apartments on the upper levels. The detached building, designed in the French Second Empire architectural style, is rectangular in plan, with the principal entrance located between the glazed store fronts on the facade (south elevation). The building is 39' x 56' in dimension, rises two stories, and is capped with a mansard roof, which provides additional habitable space on the third floor. The number of bays differs on each level, but the second story has uniform fenestration on the south, east, and west elevations, which includes five bays across the facade and eight bays along the sidewall. The north elevation is not observable since it is within the connecting plane with the IOOF Hall.

The foundation is constructed with split granite; there are four basement transom type windows along the east and west elevations respectively. The wood-framed structure is clad with wooden clapboards and trimmed with corner pilasters. The polychromatic paint scheme of olive brown on ochre, with Chinese red details, is close to the original scheme, based upon surviving original paint film found on the building.

The mansard roof, which has a concave shape delineated with molded cornices, and a moderately pitched hipped deck, is clad with gray scalloped-pattern slates. Pedimental dormers appoint the mansard roof - three above the facade and four each on the east and west elevations. There are two original square brick interior stove chimneys with corbelled caps. One rises through the hipped ridge near the center position. the other pierces the west slope of the deck in nearly parallel alignment. A later twentieth-century brick central hear furnace chimney, rectangular in plan, penetrates the curb and lower slope of the roof near the southeast corner.

The Todd Block includes numerous original features and details, and characteristic ornamental treatments. The facade is enriched with a full two-story porch, which rests upon a brick foundation and is articulated with turned posts, scroll-sawn brackets, and frieze molding. Panelled pilasters appoint all four corners of the building. The recessed panels are defined, typically, with bolection moldings and Roman arch heads. The pilasters are further adorned with bases and caps.

The heavy projecting wooden cornice of the mansard roof is visually supported upon large, regularly spaced, scroll-sawn brackets, obviously the prototype for the smaller but nearly identical brackets found on the aforementioned porches. Above the face of each corner pilaster, the brackets are paired. There is also a simple, narrow water table which circumscribes the base of the entire Todd Block and IOOF Hall.

Original windows and doors in the Todd Block survive largely intact. The double hung wooden window sash are two-light-over-two in configuration and are set in simple vernacular casings of classical derivation, composed of wide flat boards with a projecting cap molding. The original wooden blinds have been retained on the east and south elevation windows. Storefront windows, which date from c. 1900, consist of two large sheets of plate glass in each of the two bays, divided by a simple slender wooden mullion.

The three facade entrance doors are identical; each has a single large rectangular light with one horizontal panel at the bottom. The center entrance to the stair hall and upper levels lies in the plane of the facade and is enframed with engaged pilasters. The flanking storefront entries are canted and all three openings have fixed transom lights above the doors. A single door on the rear of the east elevation is a recent relocation of a historic door and frame from the west side of the rear block. The center bay entry door to the second-story porch is a four-panel Italianate type flanked with half sidelights and is an original feature.

The well-preserved state of the Todd Block and IOOF Hall's original design, as expressed in its characteristic mansard roof, massing, plan, and details, is largely attributable to the quality and integrity of the materials (i.e. granite, brick, slate, and wood) and quality workmanship embodied in its structure and weather surfaces.

Detailed Description of IOOF Hall Exterior:
The IOOF Hall occupies the interior portion of the site with the Todd Block, and was attached to the latter building in 1895, replacing a livery stable built c. 1877 and consumed by fire in 1894. The building, 96' x 42' in dimension and polygonal in plan, was built as a fraternal hall and contained livery services and apartments as well. The three-story wood-frame structure rests upon a granite and brick foundation and is capped with a moderate!y - pitched gable roof.

The principal facade is the east elevation, which has a varying number of windows and doors on each story; ten bays on the first story, fourteen on the second, and nine bays on the third story. The gable end (north elevation) has four bays, all windows. A fifth bay, consisting of two typical windows paired together, is located in the center of the second-story fenestration. A louvered round vent appoints the center of the gable. The pattern of window bays on the west elevation is regular and repeats that found on the east, except for the first story, where there are only eight bays. There are multiple window openings in the foundation which have now been converted to vents.

The post-and-beam-framed structure is sheathed with clapboards and painted in a color scheme matching the Todd Block. The new sheet metal roof replaces the original surface of the same material. Twin interior brick chimneys, square in plan with corbelled tops and sheet metal rain covers, rise through the west slope of the roof about 20' apart, equidistant from the gable ends.

The most distinguishing feature of the IOOF Hall is its full-length, second-story Queen Anne style porch attached to the east elevation. This exuberant feature, repainted polychromatically to reveal the details of its scroll-sawn and turned members, is supported upon large triangular brackets which have chamfered edges and ogee-shaped ends created with a bandsaw. The turned wooden posts are embellished with brackets, which in turn support the bracketed cornice of the low hipped roof. The balustrade screen is composed of a delicate pattern of lace, cut from a solid wood panel with a jig saw.

Both the projecting cornice and raking eaves of the main roof are ornamented with scroll-sawn brackets. At the south end of the building, only the raking eaves and brackets are visible; there are partial cornice returns at both ends of the building. As in the Todd Building, panelled corner pilasters are used to enframe the building envelope.

The entrances to the IOOF Hall consist of six bays of paired doors on the first story of the east elevation. The stairhall entry, second bay from the south, is the largest of these openings, which are otherwise uniform in size, and contain original tall, narrow wooden leaves with four lights above and two vertical panels at the bottom. There was a single secondary access door located formerly in the south bay of the west elevation; this has been saved and relocated in the front block, as previously noted.

The designer's intent to unify the IOOF Hall with the Todd Block, visually as well as structurally, is strongly expressed by the repetition of virtually all exterior surfaces, details, and treatments - including clapboard siding, windows, ornamental brackets, and original paint scheme. The integrity of this design, sympathetic with but not subordinate to that of the Todd Block, survives virtually intact. Except for the new parking area at the rear, the setting of the building remains undisturbed, and the feeling and association with the Todd Block, in addition to evocation of its own fraternal meeting hall function, is little changed.

Detailed Description of Interior:
The interior of the Todd Block consists of a full unfinished basement, which contains the new gas-fired furnace and other utilities. During its period of commercial use, this area was used for merchandise storage.

The first floor contains the two original commercial spaces, which are laid out from front to rear in plan and divided by a single load-bearing wall and the central stair. The rear two-thirds of these spaces have been adaptively re-used as (three) apartments by the introduction of several non-load-bearing partitions. The front portion of the two stores have been retained as commercial space. Finishes in these areas, which have been preserved, include decorative pressed metal ceilings, hardwood floors, door and window casings, and cast iron hardware. The original four-panel doors with ceramic knobs have been retained.

In the IOOF Hall, conditions in the basement and first floor are similar; the basement continues to be used for tenant storage and is unfinished, and the previously vacant first-floor space has been redeveloped for (seven) apartments. The enclosed broad central stair leading to the second floor is original and preserved intact. The apartments are organized around a central corridor which runs the length of the building between the twin rows of wooden posts. This space connected formerly with the rear of the stores in the Todd Block. The supporting posts, which remain exposed in the apartments, are unornamented, but have chamfered edges and diagonal braces supporting heavy timber caps. The original decorative metal ceilings remain intact, but have been covered with gypsum board. Floors are pine and have been refinished and sealed naturally. The original horizontally sheathed matched board exterior walls have been repainted and remain exposed in apartments. In three of the apartments, the original paired doors have been fastened permanently closed, and additional wooden storm doors added on the interior to upgrade thermal efficiency.

On the second floor, the central corridor runs the length of the entire Todd Block and IOOF Hall, connecting the two original stairs. The stair in the Todd Block is a well stair, and is distinguished by turned hardwood balusters, newel posts capped with urns, and continuous molded handrails. The rear stair (IOOF Hall) has a long rise and is more simply ornamented. The ceiling and wainscot are finished with V-matched vertical hard pine boarding, with a standing finish. The simple round handrails are supported on decorative cast iron brackets.

There are ten apartments on the second story of the entire block. The original floor plan has been somewhat altered by the removal and addition of some partitions, to create efficient space usage. The V-matched wainscoting and standing finish on the doors, which have simple flat casings, is carried throughout the second and third floors of the IOOF Hall; original baseboards and molded door and window casings have been preserved throughout these levels in the Todd Block. Virtually all doors (typical four-panel style) have been retained and reused

The third floor of both building segments remains in its unaltered state and was not rehabilitated/adaptively reused for apartments because of life safety code constraints on the project budget. The IOOF Hall meeting room, offices, kitchen, and ancillary space is distinguished by its clearspan expanse and decorative treatment of the exposed timber roof trusses. The exposed wall posts each have sawn decorative brackets at the top, and the pairs of iron suspender rods in the truss web are concealed with turned wooden spindle covers. All truss members are chamfered and have stops.

In the Todd Block, there are four one-room units and two double suites, none of which have plumbing facilities. Plaster ceilings and walls, and typical moldings and pine floors characterize these spaces. A narrow utility stair at the rear of the corridor was removed during the recent rehabilitation.

There have been few significant alterations to the Todd Block and IOOF Hall, and none have resulted in loss of character of the original architectural design. The loss of the livery stable in 1894, which stood on the site of the IOOF Hall, is the first significant change recorded. The building was entirely destroyed, and appears to be recorded only in the 1886 birdseye view of Hinsdale (Exhibit 6). The IOOF Hall was constructed on this site in 1895, including the ornate Queen Anne style porch. A historic photograph dated 1900 (Exhibit 10) reveals that the second story of the front porch had not yet been added, and the storefront display windows not yet expanded onto the existing one-story porch floor. In the photograph, scaffolding is seen in place on the porch roof, apparently in anticipation of these changes. The Sanborn insurance map of 1904 confirms the presence of the two-story porch. (Exhibit 11)

The Sanborn map indicates that commercial uses of the IOOF Hall in 1904 included furniture storage, an undertaker, and an upholsterer. Little change occurred until the 1985 certified rehabilitation. By 1910 the first floor of the IOOF Hall reverted to storage, and the second and third floors continued in their original use as tenements and a meeting hall. Sometime during the twentieth century the east chimney of the Todd Block was replaced with a modern brick furnace chimney nearby.

Changes made during the 1985 rehabilitation included building code and life safety improvements and upgrading of heating, electrical and mechanical systems. These changes did not alter the mass, form or scale of the original building, or diminish the historic character of the property.

Work performed on the exterior included relocation of one door and installation or wooden steps and an access ramp for the handicapped, both on the east elevation. Aluminum combination storm windows were added to improve energy efficiency and the building was repainted in historically accurate colors.

On the interior, a sprinkler system and safety lighting were installed and minor partition modifications were made in the floor plan. All significant interior finishes, including decorative metal ceilings, window and door casings and matched board wainscoting were retained. Original doors and hardware were also retained and reused, and a damaged truss member in the meeting hall was repaired. The third floor did not undergo rehabilitation because of life safety code constraints and remains unchanged.


The Todd Block/lOOF Hall is significant in the local history, architecture, and cultural development of Hinsdale, New Hampshire, and possesses integrity of its original location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. The building, relatively unaltered and in excellent condition, embodies the distinctive characteristics of a specific design and property type, and is representative of the late Victorian period in American architecture. (Criterion C) The Todd Block/ IOOF Hall, an important mid-nineteenth century commercial building with a fraternal hall appended to the rear, is a hybrid of two popular late Victorian period designs executed in vernacular form and cleverly integrated through repetitive treatment of wall surfaces, windows, details, and paint scheme, forming a relatively unified composition. The Todd Block is the southern or front portion of the building, which includes the principal facade; it was built in 1862 as a two-story commercial block in the Second Empire architectural style, and bears the characteristic mansard roof. The Todd Block, one of only two commercial applications of this type built in the central business district, is now the sole surviving example in Hinsdale. The Todd Block exemplifies a transitional commercial building type - between the earlier smaller-scale mercantile buildings which were modeled on (or actual modifications of) traditional residential building forms, and the more modern commercial blocks of the late nineteenth century. The rear portion of the building, the IOOF Hall, the largest building of its type erected in Hinsdale, is more eclectic in its design origin, and consists of a utilitarian, gable-roofed rectangular form, heavily embellished with Italianate style ornament; an ornate Queen Anne style porch is superimposed upon its principal facade, completing the late nineteenth-century expression of the building's overall composite character. The consolidation of the IOOF Hall with the Todd Block in 1895 was a solution practiced commonly in New England communities where fraternal orders were active during the period 1870 - 1930. In this instance, residential apartments were combined with commercial and meeting hall functions to provide revenue for the property. The property is associated with the broad theme of physical growth and village commercial development of typical Connecticut River valley towns during the second half of the nineteenth century. The Todd Block/lOOF Hall attained significance in commerce both locally and in surrounding towns, during the period 1862 - 1938, as a principal center for prescription drugs, hardware, and general merchandise. In 1873, the town's first drugstore was opened in the building and continued in business uninterrupted until 1956. In 1883 N. M. and E. A. Worden purchased the drugstore with F. H. Jones and expanded the line of goods to include hardware, books, stationery, and jewelry; by 1889, it was the largest store of its kind in southwestern New Hampshire. The Worden Brothers' business continued to expand and in 1911 was sold to Jesse Field, who continued to operate the drugstore until its closing. The Todd Block remained as a focal point of local commerce during the twentieth century, hosting a bank, a clothier, and a chain grocery store at various times, as well as residential apartments, and storage space and the meeting rooms in the IOOF Hall. The local historical, architectural, and cultural significance of the Todd Block and IOOF Hall is firmly established by virtue of the integrity of its original, central location, design, and continuous history of commercial, fraternal, and domestic service within community life during the period 1862 - 1938 and through the present.

Historic Context:
The historic context surrounding the initial development and historic significance of the Todd Block/lOOF Hall, during the period 1862 - 1938, is limited to the township and, more specifically, the village center in which the property is located. During the period of significance, those towns of the Connecticut River valley along the New Hampshire border whose economies were not based on agriculture, grew rapidly with the expansion of the woolen, paper, and lumber industries. The new prosperity and influx of ideas was a result of the intensive exploitation of water power and the advent of the railroad, which gave access to broader markets and provided a reliable source of raw materials. Hinsdale, located near the mouth of the Ashuelot River just upstream from its confluence with the Connecticut, was unsuited for extensive agriculture and never supported more than 50 families from farming enterprise. After the First World War, industries of the valley slowly declined, in response to synthetic fabrics, competition from cheaper southern labor, plant consolidation and relocation, and the onset of the Great Depression.

Between 1840 and 1890, the population of Hinsdale doubled, to 2253, despite a loss of population during the great westward migration of the 1850's and 1860's. (Exhibit 6) By 1858, the linear form of the central business district along Main Street was firmly established. (Exhibit 3) This included mills and factories clustered on the south side of Main Street, along the bank of the Ashuelot River, and homes, shops, churches, banks, and stores on the opposite side. Development of the town's principal commercial enterprises was generally confined to a two-block stretch on Main Street between Kilburn and Church Streets. The center of community activity and municipal business was focused around the square at the foot of Kilburn Street, where the Post Office (1816), central school (1867), town hall (1878), and Ashuelot Hotel (1815, 1818, 1880, 1883) were located. (Exhibit 4) The Todd Block/lOOF Hall (1862/1895) was erected immediately west of this crossing; the Stebbins Block (1877), an Italianate style commercial emporium, anchored the west end of the commercial district and was the largest mercantile building in the village in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. (Exhibit 14). It was within the context of this burgeoning community that the Todd Block was constructed by W. C. Todd in 1862. Todd was the son of Caleb Todd (1785 - 1871), one of Hinsdale's industrial founders and one of the most respected and wealthiest businessmen in the community. The first drugstore in Hinsdale was opened in the Todd Block in 1873, and a sizeable livery stable was added to the rear of the building c. 1877. (Exhibit 5). Under the ownership and management of the entrepreneurial Worden brothers, who had established themselves in the mill soap industry in Hinsdale, hardware, books, and jewelry were added, and the store became the largest of its kind in southwestern New Hampshire. (Exhibit 10). The drugstore continued uninterrupted until 1956, and the building housed the First National Store and the Hinsdale branch of the Cheshire National Bank, as well as several clothing stores, during the twentieth century. All commercial business operations ceased in 1959. Until 1941, when it was sold to Agnes C. Field, the property was owned and continuously associated with the Todd family since 1826.

The Todd Block/lOOF Hall is an important, if not rare, element in the inventory of nineteenth-century architectural styles represented in Hinsdale, N. H., based upon field evaluation of surviving buildings. Popular in the United States between 1855 - 1885, the Second Empire style was considered very modern, for it mimicked the latest French building fashions. The characteristic roof was popular during the seventeenth century, and was named for Francois Mansart, a French architect of that period. Revived in France during the reign of Napoleon III (1852 - 1870), France's Second Empire, the style was popularized in Paris exhibitions, spread to England, and exported to this country, where the first examples appeared in the 1850's. A dominant style for residential construction in the United States principally between 1860 - 1880, and popular for remodeling because of the full upper story of usable space afforded by its boxy roof, the Second Empire mode was found primarily throughout the northeast and midwest. Five principal subtypes can be distinguished; the Todd Block is an example of the simple mansard roof subcategory, which comprised about twenty percent of these buildings nation-wide (Virginia and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984], pp. 241, 242).

In Hinsdale, seven Second Empire style buildings were erected by 1886; only two of these were built specifically for commercial purposes; the rest were private residences. The Ashuelot Hotel, built in 1883 and demolished in 1936, overshadowed the Todd Block/lOOF Hall in complexity of design, plan, and materials. (See Exhibit 15.) This building had twin towers, a porte-cochere, and a polychrome slate roof, and was located at 19 Main Street, opposite the town hall. Three of the private dwellings noted earlier were located at 35, 205, and 206 Main Street. No. 35 Main Street was a two-story Second Empire style building, smaller in plan than the Todd Block/lOOF Hall. The other two residences, of identical design, were located west of the Stebbins Block and were both one-story buildings. Another example, a two-story residence on High Street, is recorded only in the 1886 birdseye view, and cannot be fully evaluated. The surviving residential example, on West Main Street opposite the Northfield Road, is a simple, unornamented, one story dwelling with dormers, five bays by four with a porch across the facade; it is now used as the American Legion Hall. The Todd Block/lOOF Hall, as a sole survivor of the Second Empire style commercial block building type, is an important link in the architectural continuum of Hinsdale's material culture.

The period of significance (1862-1938) was derived on the basis of the original date of construction of the Todd Block, and its continuous use as a Second Empire style commercial block from that date through 1938. While the use of the building as a commercial block actually extended through 1959, the National Register Criteria Considerations strictly regulate properties which have achieved significance within the last 50 years; in this instance the property achieved significance prior to 1938. The Todd Block/IOOF Hall functioned continuously as a commercial block and fraternal hall until 1956, when the drugstore operations ceased. The Fields continued to sell sundries and notions until 1959 when the business was closed permanently. Significant dates include the dates of construction (1862, 1895); the date Hinsdale's first drugstore was opened (in the Todd Block); and 1911, the date the Worden Company business dissolved and Jesse Field took over the drugstore. In 1941 Agnes C. Field purchased the entire property from W.L. Todd, ending the Todd family association with the property which began in 1860.

Additional Historical Background:
Until the early nineteenth century, Hinsdale was a small, agrarian community with close social and economic ties to Northfield, Mass., Winchester, N.H., and Vernon, Vt. Settled in 1742 by Ebenezer Hinsdale of Deerfield, Mass., who established Fort Hinsdale and a grist mill, the town was chartered on September 4, 1753, by Governor Benning Wentworth. By 1790 there were 522 residents; this number grew to 1411 by 1840. In 1850, the Ashuelot Railroad was opened to Hinsdale, creating access to broader markets, while bringing in new ideas and abundant raw materials. Hinsdale, located on the Ashuelot River just east of its terminus with the Connecticut River, developed a small but thriving manufacturing and commercial district, based initially upon the woolen industry and later upon machine shops and paper and soap manufactories. The first woolen mill began operations in 1824 under the ownership of Caleb Todd. Over the following 60 years, the factory, which became Haile & Frost Manufacturing Company, enjoyed continued growth and became the community's largest employer, producing cashmerette, suitings, and cloaking.

In 1826 Caleb Todd purchased 60 acres in what was to become downtown Hinsdale.(1) Four years later he subdivided the land, selling the parcel on which the Todd Block now stands to Christopher Bullens who, in apparent error, had just built his house on the site (later to be occupied by Sylvester Davenport). The parcel passed to several owners through mortgages before being repurchased by Todd at auction in 1860.

Caleb Todd was a major personality in the development of Hinsdale; he was at various times a selectman and representative in the State Legislature.

Caleb Todd, prominently connected with town affairs for many years, a man of unusual personal presence, honest and firm in his opinions and beliefs, even though they leaned toward the unpopular side; who believed that minorities were always in the right and majorities always in the wrong, a stately old gentleman, as we remember him, who, by common consent, was called by the old-time title of "The Squire."(2)

The reference to unpopular beliefs resulted from what many sources cite as the greatest controversy in the history of Hinsdale when "Squire Todd" and Deacon Winsor Bowker brought charges against each other before the church ecclesiastical council. Though pages have been written about the reason for the controversy, it is certain that in 1841 Caleb Todd was excommunicated from the church,(3) (resulting in the formation of a new Hinsdale church in 1843 under Caleb's leadership). It may be coincidence, but in the months preceding this dispute Deacon Bowker purchased and then mortgaged the "Todd Block" land through a complex series of sales and resales.

In any case, in 1860 the property was sold to J. D. Todd (apparently unrelated) by Caleb, and then immediately to Sophira S. Ide. In 1862, W. C. Todd, the son of Caleb, "invested $10,000.00 in his new block on Main Street."(4)

At the time of the Todd Block's construction, Hinsdale was thriving, and because its economic base was wool and not cotton, the village had ready access to raw materials during the Civil War. The Todd Block was one of several mansard roofed buildings, but was the only commercial block erected during that period until the Ashuelot Hotel was built in 1883. Its first floor was occupied by stores, and the two upper floors were divided into tenements.

In 1873, the town's first drugstore, owned and managed by Dr. L. B. Lamson, opened in the Todd Block. Dr. Lamson operated the drugstore for approximately ten years from the Todd Block, and sold the store in 1883. An account from the Vermont Reformer of 1883 describes the sale:

"Dr. L. A. Lamson, having bought an apothecary store in Milford, Mass., removes with his family the present week. He has sold his drug and hardware store here to Messrs. Worden and Jones, who will continue the business as heretofore. Dr. Lamson has been a resident of Hinsdale nearly thirteen years; he is an educated as well as a druggist of long experience, and his departure will be a loss to the town in many respects, not only in his professional capacity, but in musical circles, and as a prominent citizen and member of the Grand Army Post, with which organization he was largely identified. It is always a misfortune to a town when her younger business men seek other homes. As regards the new firm, Mr. Worden, who will have charge of the hardware department, it is well known as a careful and accurate business man, and F. H. Jones, the junior member, is amply qualified to take charge of the druggist department, so that the business will continue uninterruptedly.(5)

Although there were two other drugstores in Hinsdale by the time the Worden brothers established themselves in the Todd Block, their business grew rapidly, soon occupying the entire first floor of the block. For a short period, c. 1886, the Wordens sold their interest in the business, but by 1888 they had repurchased the drugstore and merged it with another family business; the store became the largest of its kind in southwest New Hampshire. In addition to drugs, the store offered books, hardware, jewelry, newspapers, and livery, and employed six attendants. The Worden brothers also were involved with the manufacture of soap at a nearby location, and were one of the largest such manufacturers in New Hampshire.

The Vermont Reformer of 1889 describes Worden's Store as follows: "This establishment is, without doubt, the largest of its kind in South-western New Hampshire. It occupies the lower part of the recently enlarged Todd's Block, and it embraces under one roof a well-appointed drug department, an extensive hardware store with spacious store-rooms, a section for books, periodicals, and newspapers, and a large line of jewelry and fancy goods. Each department is in charge of competent persons, there being employed on the floor at the present time six attendants, besides the two heads of the firm. The store is heated by steam and lighted by gas manufactured on the premises."(6)

Growth during the period 1880 to 1890 was booming; the town grew in population from 1,868 to 2,253 people and was at this point a thriving commercial center directly competing with Keene. An 1890 pamphlet describes Hinsdale as follows: " is evident that the town has entered upon a new era of prosperity, while the gain has been and is so steady as well as so pronounced that it is plainly not the result of any temporary 'boom' but is permanent and reliable. Certainly the location and resources of the town are such as should ensure its prosperity if energetically utilized under fair conditions of competition, as will be seen from the following brief description..."(7)

It was during this period that the International Order of Odd Fellows Hall was constructed. W. C. Todd, son of Caleb, who had built the Second Empire style block in 1862, still owned the building and property in 1895, when a new structure was added. Though this is undocumented, according to local historians W. C. Todd was apparently an IOOF member, and the new building was planned to contain both tenements and an Odd Fellows Hall on the third floor. A second influence may have come from Nathan Worden of Worden's store, who was a selectman from 1884 to 1894, and chairman of the board of selectmen during several of those years. Worden was also reportedly very active as a member of the IOOF. The major impetus for this addition, however, was the destruction by fire in 1894 of O. H. Higgins's Livery Stable which had been attached to the rear of the Todd Block since c. 1877.

"Lumber has been drawn for a new block that Walter Todd is to erect in the rear of the Worden Co.'s Drug Store, occupying the site of the recently burned livery stable. It is to be about 100 feet long and three stories high There is to be a large hall and tenements in this block. L. W. Goss is to have charge of the work."(8)

One month after this announcement, the Keene Sentinel of April 26 1895 reported "O. H. Higgins has raised his derrick on Todd's lot, preparatory to laying the block to the new block."

At around the same time improvements were also being made to Worden's store in the front building.

"The Worden Company have this week put in a Lamson Cash carrier into their store, and the Gilbert & Barker M'F'g Co. of Springfield are putting in gas fixtures, as the store is to be lighted by gas."(9)

"The Worden Co. have equipped their store with a system of electric bells."(10)

The Wordens remained in business until 1911 when the store was bought by Jesse Field.

"Jesse W. Field who has been employed at M. S. MANN'S drug store for the last six years, has purchased the store in Todd's block." (11)

At around this time the drug store was reduced to half the ground floor of the block, but continued to be a thriving business managed by the Field family for 48 years. For this period, the property was known as the Field Block.

During the period 1895 to 1941, the property and buildings were owned by either Walter C. Todd or his son, Walter L. Todd. Walter L. Todd purchased additional land to the rear of the buildings as early as 1919. This additional property was steeply sloping and now connects the Todd Block land with High Street to the north. Walter L. Todd was also a prominent resident of Hinsdale. In fact, he owned the first automobile in town:

"Walter L. Todd was the first Hinsdale resident to order an automobile. He ordered the vehicle in Springfield for $1000 in early 1902. His car was a Knox and many heads turned to look at the strange spectacle as Mr. and Mrs. Todd rode along the street."(12)

Finally, in July of 1941, Mrs. Jesse (Agnes C.) Field purchased the land and buildings from Walter L. Todd (grandson of Caleb Todd). At that point the buildings "contained Mr. Fields Drug Store, A First National Store, four apartments and storage space which is used by the White Paper Co. Mill.(13)

When Mrs. Jesse Field retired in 1956, it was the first time in 83 years that the Todd Block was without a drugstore. The Todd or Field families owned the property almost uninterruptedly since 1826, and owned the present buildings since their construction in 1862 and 1895. The Todd Block housed the first drugstore in Hinsdale, and has been a focus of commerce since 1862.

The buildings were purchased by Todd Block Housing Associates from John Field in September of 1985 for the purpose of completing a certified rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of the property for additional apartments, with small retail spaces reserved in the forebays of the original building.

1. Todd Block chain of title research, Cheshire County Registry of Deeds, Keene, N. H.
2. D. H. Hurd, ed., History of Cheshire County (Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1886), p. 374b.
3. Ibid., pp. 362-364.
4. Hinsdale Phoenix, April 26, 1862.
5. Vermont Reformer, "Business News," 1883.
6. Vermont Reformer, November 29, 1889.
7. Geo. F. Bacon, Keene and Vicinity... (Newark, N. J.: Mercantile Publishing Co., 1891), p. 56.
8. Vermont Reformer, March 8, 1895.
9. Ibid., July 19, 1895.
10. Ibid., July 26, 1895.
11. Ibid., May 15, 1911.
12. Greenfield Recorder Gazette, September 2, 1953.
13. "Fletchers Scrapbook," #2, p. 325, July 7, 1941, cited in unpublished notes by Eleanor Smith [collection of Rosetta Lowe of Hinsdale].


Bacon, Geo. F., Keene and Vicinity, its Points of Interest and its Representative Business Men, Embracing Keene, Hinsdale, Winchester, Marlboro, Walpole, Swanzey, and Charlestown. Newark, N. J.: Mercantile Publishing Co., 1891. [Keene Collections, Keene Public Library.]

Child, Hamilton, Gazetteer of Cheshire County, N. H., 1736-1885. Syracuse, N. Y.: by author, 1885.

The Experiment (Hinsdale, N. H.), June 13, 1899.

"Fletcher's Scrapbook," #2, p. 325, July 7, 1941; cited in unpublished notes by Eleanor Smith. [Collection of Rosetta Lowe of Hinsdale.]

Greenfield (Vt.) Recorder Gazette, September 2, 1953.

Hinsdale, N. H. Hinsdale Bicentennial Committee, 1976.

Hinsdale Phoenix, April 26, 1862.

Hurd, D. H., ed., History of Cheshire County. Philadelphia: J. Lewis & Co., 1886.

Vermont Reformer, "Business News," 1883; November 29, 1889; March 8, 1895; July 19, 1895; July 26, 1895; May 15, 1911.

Chain of title research for the Todd Block property. [Cheshire County Registry of Deeds, Keene, N. H.]

Maps and Historic Views:

Hinsdale map in Map of Cheshire County, New Hampshire, by L. Fagan. Philadelphia: Smith & Morley, 1858.

Hinsdale map in Atlas of Cheshire County, New Hampshire, by C. H. Rockwood. New York: Comstock & Cline, 1877.

Hinsdale map in Town and City Atlas of the State of New Hampshire. Boston: D. H. Hurd & Co., 1892.

"Hinsdale, N. H." (birdseye view). Troy, N. Y.: L. R. Burleigh, 1886.

Sanborn Insurance Maps for Hinsdale, N. H.; 1884, 1892, 1900, 1910, 1924 editions. New York: Sanborn [Parris] Map Co.

Todd Block historic photograph, c. 1900. [Hinsdale pamphlet file (no longer extant), Keene Public Library.]

FORM PREPARED BY: Christopher W. Close (with Robert J. Obenland, Todd Block Housing Associates), Closs Planners, Inc., 8-1/2 North State Street, Concord, NH 03301. Tel: 603-224-6714. Date: January 20, 1988.

DATE ENTERED: June 14, 1988.
(Source 27)