National Register of Historic Places to Consider Adding Pickering House

Pickering House in Wolfeboro around 1855
Pickering House in Wolfeboro around 1855

Pickering House is such a local landmark that we thought it would a great candidate to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register is the official list of America’s historic places that are particularly worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archaeological resources.

There is a multi-step process to get a property listed on the National Register. Last week, we completed the first step, which is to receive approval from the NH State Historic Resources Council to nominate the property for National Park Service consideration. We expect to know whether Pickering House receives final approval to be added to the National Register of Historic Places by June.

Mae Williams, an architectural historian and historic preservation consultant, has been instrumental in researching the history of Pickering House and assembling the documentation necessary for Historic Register approval. We have been fascinated by what Mae unearthed, but we understand that you may not want to read about all the tiny details. Here are just a few highlights that we have learned about the property that may be of interest: 

Pickering House Wolfeboro

The present building reflects three periods and styles of construction. John Pickering constructed the main house, which faces south onto South Main Street, around 1813 as a tavern. This original structure was built in the Federal style.

In 1815, John’s younger brother, Daniel Pickering, moved to Wolfeboro from Greenland, NH and purchased the building. Daniel enlarged the house to the north around 1843 and remodeled the entire building in the Greek Revival style. He lived in Pickering House from 1815 to 1856.

When Daniel Pickering died, he left the property to his daughter, Caroline Rollins. Caroline and her husband, Charles, lived in Boston but summered at Pickering House. In the 1870’s, they built a 2 ½ story ell to connect the house to the three-story barn that had been built earlier. This ell created rental housing for railroad workers who came to town to build the Wolfeboro Railroad, starting in 1872. At this time, porches were built along the west, south and east elevations of the main house block, and Italianate architectural details were added throughout the house, including the construction of the ornate fence that is still in place today.

 

Daniel Pickering in 1856
Daniel Pickering in 1856

Pickering House is one of the oldest houses in the village area of Wolfeboro. It is located in a part of town that was known as Bankers Row in the 19th century. At one time, much of the land on either side of South Main Street, from Union Street to Center Street, all the way to the edge of Lake Winnipesaukee, was owned by Daniel Pickering. Daniel Pickering played a leadership role in nearly all aspects of Wolfeboro, from the development of the first secondary school (which is now Brewster Academy), to the establishment of the First Congregational Church, to service as the town’s first postmaster. Daniel Pickering was also an influential businessman almost from the moment he arrived in Wolfeboro. He opened a store at Pickering Corner (now the intersection of South Main Street and Center Street) just a few years after coming to town. Over the next 40 years, he would also open a brick yard, purchase large tracts of timber for lumber operations, operate a mill, start a bank, and open the Pavilion Hotel.

The Greek Revival door on the east side of the main structure (see below) is modeled after an illustration in The Architect: or Practical House Carpenter, written by Asher Benjamin and published in 1830. Asher Benjamin was an American architect and author whose seven handbooks on design had an enormous impact on the look of cities and towns throughout New England until the Civil War.

Pickering House Greek Revival door frame
Pickering House Greek Revival door frame
close up of Greek Revival door frame at Pickering House Wolfeboro

 The Greek Revival door on the east side of the main structure is modeled after an illustration in The Architect: or Practical House Carpenter, written by Asher Benjamin and published in 1830. Asher Benjamin was an American architect and author whose seven handbooks on design had an enormous impact on the look of cities and towns throughout New England until the Civil War.

We could go on and on about all that we have learned through Mae’s historical research. If you have a question about the history of the house or have an interesting bit of information to share, please email us at info@pickeringhousewolfeboro.com!