David Dexter House
Municipality: Claremont, NH
Location: North Street
Site Type: House
UTMs: (Zone 18) E: 715675. N: 48805900
National Register Nomination Information:
Present Physical Appearance:
The center entrance of the front elevation has an elaborate doorway consisting of a very wide raised six-panel door framed by sunken panel pilasters with moulded capitals supporting an entablature. The entablature is made up of (in vertical progression) two plain bands, a moulding, a rope moulding, a pattern band of interlacing arcs surmounted by another rope moulding, a frieze of triglyphs, one rope moulding, dentils, and a moulded cap. A one-pane light occupies the space above the door. On the east elevation of the main block, centered on the first floor, is a narrower entrance, similar to the front entrance, but less elaborate, decorated with rope mouldings, dentils, moulded door surround and moulded cap. One other entrance exists on the back of the house.
Most of the windows of the house appear to be original sash, double hung, with twelve panes over twelve panes.
The interior contains many raised six-panel doors and raised panel Indian shutters on the first floor, in addition to a variety of late Georgian/Federal mantel pieces. Of major importance is the southwest first floor,parlor which is an elaborately decorated Federal interior. Its focal point is an ornamented mantel with a center panel containing an urn flanked by swags and smaller covered urns in the end panels. The vertical sides of the mantel are decorated by foliate chains which are surmounted by a pineapple; the surrounds of the fireplace opening are faced with marble. The sliding interior shutters of this room, the panels beneath the windows, the doors, baseboard, wainscot, and door and window surrounds all have reeded decorative trim; all panels are decorated with reeding. The cornice of the room is made of wood with modillions, a band of reeding, and a frieze of incised lines, resembling a triglyph motif. The room and its ornamentation survive intact.
Original Physical Appearance:
The David Dexter House was the focus of an intense and bitter local controversy over the Urban Renewal project which levelled its neighborhood and which also led to the deactivation of the New Hampshire State Historic Preservation Office and the dismissal of its first Director. The building was moved in early 1975 as a last resort when efforts by local citizen groups, the City Council, City Manager and City Solicitor to retain it in its original location were unsuccessful. When destruction was imminent (the building had already been vandalized), a City Council member purchased it and moved it a few hundred feet to a vacant hilltop site, just over the property line from the Urban Renewal project area. The effect of the move on the integrity of the building was to preserve the remaining original fabric, except for the immense masonry chimney stack and the ell, which could not be moved. However, the building was documented by the Claremont Historical Society and the City of Claremont (which commissioned an adaptive reuse study by a prominent historical architect). The loss of the ell did not significantly affect the main block; although interesting and potentially usable, the ell was clearly a subordinate service accessory to the architecturally distinguished dwelling. The building is now being rehabilitated by its owner for multi-family residential use, with the advice and assistance of the Claremont Historical Society and the City of Claremont. If the property is entered in the National Register, the owner anticipates applying for Tax Reform Act rehab incentives.
The effect of the move on the property's historic integrity has been minimal, although some damage to historic fabric--particularly the foundations and chimney base--was inevitable. Efforts have been made to mitigate unavoidable damage, including the reuse of original granite foundation blocks at the new site.
The new site is not known to possess historical significance which would be adversely affected by the placement of the David Dexter House.
Waite, Otis F. R. History of Claremont, New Hampshire, (Manchester, NH: John B. Clarke Company, 1895)
Cheshire County Registry of Deeds, Keene, NH, Book 17, page 116.
Colby, Elinor and White, Mrs Perley. "Research on 'Fitchburg House' (so-called)." Claremont, New Hamsphire: Claremont Historical Society, 1968.
Garvin, James L. "Report on Two Early Buildings Within the Claremont (New Hampshire) Urban Renewal Area," July 31, 1974.
McCarthy, Thomas. Personal Interview. Claremomnt, New Hampshire. July 26, 1974.
DATE ENTERED: November 29, 1979.
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