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County: Belknap
2004 Population: 6,615
2005 Tax Rate: $10.27
School District: 
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Junior High: I-L Middle School
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High School: I-L High School
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BOB MONTANA
Creator of Archie Comics
Meredith Resident
Classic Archie Comic
 
 

Bob Montana (October 23, 1920 - January 4, 1975) was an American cartoonist who fashioned the characters that launched Archie Comics. Born in Stockton, California, Montana was the son of ex-Ziegfeld girl Roberta Pandolfini Montana and Ray Montana, a top banjo player on the Keith vaudeville circuit. Traveling all 48 states before the age of nine, Montana received his childhood schooling backstage in theater dressing rooms. During his early teen years, he lived in Boston's theater district. With his father's death and his mother's remarriage, he moved to Haverhill, Massachusetts; his stepfather managed a theatrical costume shop in Bradford.

From 1936 to 1939, Montana attended Haverhill High School, where the students and faculty inspired the leading characters in the Archie cast. In his senior year, Montana moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he graduated from Central High in 1940. The following year he drew Archie for MLJ's Pep Comics (December, 1941), and the immediate success of the character led MLJ to assign Montana to do the first issue of Archie (November, 1942). During World War II, Montana spent four years in the Army Signal Corps, working on training films with William Saroyan and cartoonists Sam Cobean and Charles Addams. Returning in 1946, he drew the daily and Sunday Archie comic strips which ran in 700 newspapers.

Montana died of a heart attack in Meredith, New Hampshire in January 1975, while cross-country skiing. His daughter, Lynn Montana, of Meredith, along with her sister, Paige Kuether, once managed a web site, Archie Prints, to market their father's artwork. The site featured a diary-sketchbook kept by Montana about life in Haverhill High during the late 1930s.

WATERFRONT PARKS

Meredith's pride and joy is its public waterfront on Lake Winnipesaukee. The town docks at the foot of Lake Street date back to before 1880. Even earlier, there was a steamboat landing at Dover Point (now Hesky Park), where the steamship Dover carried supplies to town. Hesky Park was donated to the town by Linen Mills owner Egon Hesky after the current Route 3 was built in 1948. Scenic and Clough Parks along the northern shore of Meredith Bay date from the 1920s. Clough Park is named for Edward H. Clough, who revived the Old Oak, an old Indian landmark which later became the town emblem. The park underwent renovation in the early 1990s, and a new "old" oak has taken root there. Townspeople expanded Mr. Clough's park in the late '20s by filling along the shoreline by Winnipesaukee Street (Route 25) and created Scenic Park, which claims an award-winning view of the lake and mountains to the south.

Meredith's Waterfront Parks are located on the Northwest shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, just off Route 3 in downtown Meredith.

VILLAGE MILLS

Built about 1820, the old mill building still standing beside the waterfall was part of Meredith's industrial history until the 1980s. It was likely built by village developer John Bond Swasey as either a grist mill or cotton processing (fulling) mill. About 1830 J.W. Lang and several partners formed the Meredith Village Cotton Factory Company. In 1859 this and other nearby mill buildings came under the control of the Meredith Mechanic Association, familiarly known as "The Corporation." Fortunes of the Association improved dramatically when Englishman Samuel Hodgson opened a hosiery manufactory, using space in this building and a new larger mill lower on the site (pictured at right). After Hodgson's mill burned in 1889, the property was eventually developed into the Meredith Linen Mills, whose linen cloth, or "crash," was soon in high demand. Various textiles were milled here until the site was developed into an attractive shopping area in 1984. Through it all, Swasey's old mill continues to stand as a monument to Meredith's mill town roots.

Meredith's Mill Buildings are located in downtown Meredith, just off of Route 3.  ›
www.millfalls.com

NUTTING/HORNE BLOCK

One of downtown Meredith's largest commercial buildings has an unusual history as a medical office - unusual in that it was headquarters for two highly respected women of medicine. The three-story building is one of several in the village with well-preserved wooden storefronts. Centrally placed recessed entrances allowed maximum display window frontage while offering shelter from the elements as customers entered the building. It was built in the 1890s by Drs. Newell and Mary Nutting as their office. "Dr. Mary," as she was widely known, continued to practice into the '40s. She is remembered for the hundreds upon hundreds of babies she delivered and for trudging through all types of foul weather to make house calls to infirm residents. After her death in 1947, the Nutting Block was purchased by Guy U. Home and his wife. Dr. Edith (Bushway) Home, Meredith's first chiropractor. Dr. Bushway cured Mr. Home of a life-threatening asthma condition and later they were married. She continued to actively practice chiropractic into the 1990s.

The Nutting/Horne Block is located on Main Street in Meredith.
 
LOWER MAIN STREET

The core of early Meredith's shopping district was along the Main Street hill. J.W. Beede's store at the corner of Main and Plymouth sold dry goods and was operated by the Beede family for nearly 70 years. The Wiggin Block on the east side of Main Street and the Blaisdell and Prescott Blocks across the street housed a wide variety of stores over the years. Among the diverse concerns located in these buildings have been dry goods, grocery and apothecary (drug) stores, tonsorial artists (barbers), a millinery, a tailor and even a billiards parlor. For many years the upper level of the Wiggin Block served as the meeting hall of the local IOOF society, and the Blaisdell Block served as a Masonic hall.

Lower Main Street can be found by taking Route 3 to the lights in Meredith. Turn left and go up the hill and you are on Lower Main Street.
 
CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
Highland Street

Known variously over the years as the "North Church" or the "White House," the First Congregational Church of Meredith with its prominent white spire has become a symbol of Meredith's New England charm. Organized in 1815, the earliest gathering of the church met on the hill off Center Harbor Road (Route 25). In 1832-33, the society built a new church opposite the Old Oak on Meredith Bay. It was moved in 1842 to its present site on Highland Street. This example of classic New Hampshire ecclesiastical architecture bears the results of the move, as well as a later renovation. Its earlier Federal-style features are visible in the arched side windows and accompanying arched blinds, curved modillion blocks beneath the eaves and the semi-elliptical fanlights located above the entrance in the gable. Originally topped with a square tower with corner finials, the spire was added in 1871. It rests on a three-stage tower consisting of a base, a belfry with louvered arches and an octagonal clock tower. The original decorative glass and stained glass transoms with floral designs probably dating from the 1870s, were recently updated.

Other notable buildings on Highland Street are the Beede House and the cupola-topped carriage shed of Sam Hodgson across the street, now remodeled into an attractive residence. An outstanding example of Italianatc architecture, the Beede House was completed in 1867. From the octagonal cupola are stunning views toward the town and east toward Lake Winnipesaukee. The elaborate entry portico, corner quoins and graciously landscaped grounds enclosed by a Victorian wooden fence complete one of Meredith's most elegant residences. John Way Beede came to Meredith in 1850 and became a prominent merchant and citizen. His son John F. Beede succeeded him in both his home and business. Across the street Hodgson's elegantly designed carriage house is topped with a square ventilator that features a cross-gabled roof with wooden finials and a weathervane. The triangular window caps, circular bosses (applied, richly decorative ornament) and stick-like detailing in the gable are common Victorian features and often associated with the Eastlake or Stick styles.

HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM
 
Among the busiest landmarks of Meredith for nearly two centuries, the "Ladd Block" is now headquarters of the Meredith Historical Society. Built about 1820 as a store and residence, the building took on greater significance in 1854 when Seneca Ladd bought it and moved his piano and melodeon business there. After selling his piano business in 1869 Mr. Ladd was instrumental in founding the Meredith Village Savings Bank and supplied space in the building for the town's first banking office. The bank remained there until 1925, when it built the brick office across Highland Street that now serves as town offices. Another well-known occupant of the building's lower level was the Meredith Village post office. Villagers collected their mail at "Post Office Square" for several decades until a permanent post office was built in 1936. Another tenant of the building from 1888-1901 was the Meredith Public Library. Various commercial interests have owned or rented space in the building over the years until a public/private partnership succeeded in purchasing the building in 1994 as a historical museum.

Historical Society Museum can be found by taking Route 3 to the lights in Meredith. Turn left and go up the hill onto Lower Main Street. The Society is on the right, next to the Town Hall.
 
SANBORN HOUSE/DRUG STORE

For over a century the "Sanborn Block" has been a focal point of social and business activity in Meredith Village. The building represents the gradual conversion of a house into commercial use. The original house faced onto Water Street, and its five bay, 2 1/2-story, twin-chimney form with a rear two-story ell is still very much in evidence. Dr. George Sanborn was the principal town doctor in the late 1800s and operated his practice from this building. Dr. Sanborn's son George Freeman Sanborn founded a printing company in 1871 and the town's community newspaper. The Meredith News, in 1880, both in the north annex of the building. In 1882, he offered a room next to the newspaper office to launch the Meredith Public Library, and he served as the town's first librarian. In 1884, George F. Sanborn opened a drug store on the opposite corner of Water and Main Street, and in 1909 he added the projecting storefront to his home and relocated the store. On either side of the diagonal entrance, he installed leaded gllass lights with stained glass pharmacy symbols that still decorate the entrance to the old "Sanborn Drugs."

Sanborn House/Drug Store can be found by taking Route 3 to the lights in Meredith. Turn left and go up the hill onto Lower Main Street. Sanborn House is on the right, at the corner of Main and Water Streets.

LANG/MANSFIELD/GRAD'S STORE


Changing commercial fashions are clearly represented in this building. Originally built by Joseph W. Lang in the 1850s, the store carried dry goods under a variety of owners, including E.C. Mansfield at the turn of the century and later Samuel Grad, an immigrant merchant who started out with a pushcart visiting outlying areas. About 1925 Grad purchased the former Mansfield store, and Grad's became a popular clothing store into the 1990s. Other stores have also rented space here, including the Weeks Country Store and the A&P grocery store. One historical highlight of the building was its use in 1862 by Colonel Ebenezer Stevens and Captain J.W. Lang Jr. (nephew of Joseph W. Lang mentioned above) as Civil War recruiting headquarters for the 12th New Hampshire Regiment. Original features of the building include its overall shape and the pilasters found at each front corner. A projecting storefront was added later, modernized by replacing wooden frames and sash with the existing aluminum frame. A side stairway was also annexed to the original store.

Lang/Mansfield/Grad's Store can be found by taking Route 3 to the lights in Meredith. Turn left and go up the hill onto Lower Main Street. Lang/Mansfield/Grad's Store is on the left, across the street from Sanborn House/Drug Store.

SWASEY STONE


According to Swasey family tradition, this stone was used to measure property boundaries since the town's earliest days. Deed records, however, indicate its significance lies more in designating the southwest corner of the "Swasey mill lot." As early as 1800, deeds show the "mill yard on the outlet of Measly Pond" (Waukewan), indicating the existence of mills there even before John Bond Swasey purchased them. It also marks the corner of the old "Corporation Square," where community band concerts took place. The current building at the corner of the mill lot across Dover Street was once the studio of Meredith's Bob Montana, creator of the famous Archie comics. Property to the south of the stone on Main Street has been home to a number of noteworthy residents and businesses, including Baptist minister Parker L. Fogg, who was dismissed from the pulpit about 1830 for indulging too much in intoxicating spirits. The Elm Hotel stood where the post office is located today.

Swasey Stone can be found by taking Route 3 to the lights in Meredith. Turn left and go up the hill onto Main Street. Swasey Stone is on the left, at the corner of Main & Dover Streets
.

TOWN HALL
The Great Catastrophe

The so-called Old Town Hall at the corner of Main and High Streets was the center of municipal government from 1877 until 1958. It was built by Josiah Sturtevant to replace a previous town hall at the corner of Main and Lake (11A) which was the scene of the worst disaster in town annals. Back in 1854 voters at Town Meeting were faced with the prospect of replacing the original town hall, located on Parade Road across from the old town pound (a section now part of Laconia). It was decided to locate the new hall at Meredith Village. The following year, March 13, 1855, voters gathered at the upper floor of the still-unfinished hall. During the meeting, the floor joists gave way, and scores of people fell through. Many were killed or injured. In July 1855 the new town of Laconia was granted legislative authority to secede from Meredith. Mr. Sturtevant acquired the infamous hall, eventually tearing it down and building the existing building on that lot. He also agreed to construct his new town building at the corner of High Street. The town offices and hall were located upstairs. Included in the hall was a stage, where numerous town and school activities were held for eight decades. With the exception of the ground floor storefront, the building looks much as it did 100 years ago.

Town Hall's "Great Catastrophe" can be found by taking Route 3 to the lights in Meredith. Turn left and go up the hill onto Main Street. Town Hall's "Great Catastrophe" is located at the corner of Main and High Streets.
 
CIVAL WAR STATUE

Typical of many Civil War statues. Major E.E. Bedee's monument to the 12th New Hampshire Regiment has a colorful history. The regiment participated in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War, including Chancellorsville, Gettysberg and Cold Harbor. Local soldiers reportedly sustained the highest percentage of casualties of any unit in the Union Army. Major Bedee himself was injured twice and later spent several months in a Rebel prison camp. Following the war's end, he was present at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., the night President Lincoln was shot and helped carry the fatally wounded emancipator to the house across the street where he died the next morning. After the war, Major Bedee mined diamonds in Africa, and later spent some of his fortune on this memorial "to keep alive the memory of our fallen brave."

The Civil War Statue can be found by taking Route 3 to the lights in Meredith. Turn left and go up the hill onto Main Street. Civil War Statue is located on the right side of Main Street, in front of the Meredith Public Library.
 
PUBLIC LIBRARY

Founded in 1882 by George F. Sanborn, the Meredith Public Library moved to several temporary sites around the village until 1901, when Benjamin M. Smith donated his memorial library building. B.M. Smith lived in Meredith Village during the 1850s and 1860's. Later he became a successful hosiery salesman along the North Shore of Massachusetts and used some of his life savings to build the library "in remembrance of the years lived so pleasantly" in Meredith. Mr. Smith's original $10,000.00 library with its brick walls and slate roof was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Terracotta is used for the egg and dart detailing of the pilaster caps and eave frieze. Both the building name and date appear in raised granite letters. Note the carved book in the keystone above the entrance. An addition to the building, completed in 1988, employs the same materials as the original building, and its two-story, arched gable window echoes the main entry arch.

Meredith Public Library can be found by taking Route 3 to the lights in Meredith. Turn left and go up the hill onto Main Street. Meredith Public Library is located on the right side of Main Street.
 
HUMISTON SCHOOL

Once the village district school, the Humiston Building now houses the Inter-Lakes School District administrative offices. About 1875, Ebenezer and Cassandra (Swasey) Stevens donated property for a new village school, a four-room building which accommodated all the village public school grades. In 1914, the town consolidated many of its outlying schools into the stately brick building that still stands today. This newer building is arranged similarly to the library nearby with a projecting central entry bay and flanking wings. Concrete, instead of granite, was used for trim, reflecting a growing reliance on this less expensive, man-made stone. After Lang Street School was built in 1925, the Main Street building became Meredith High School. Among its leading teachers through the years was John Humiston, by whose name the building is known today.

Humiston School can be found by taking Route 3 to the lights in Meredith. Turn left and go up the hill onto Main Street. Humiston School is located on the right side of Main Street, beyond Meredith Public Library.

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