Grand Opening for Leavitt House Barn in Hampton

Return to Table of Contents

Historical Society Unveils Restoration

By Nancy Rineman

Hampton Union, Tuesday, June 24, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

Hampton Historical Society volunteers pull open the doors of the 212 year old restored Leavitt House Barn on Sunday.
[Nancy Rineman photo]

HAMPTON -- It was a race against stormy weather Sunday afternoon but the timing ended up being perfect, as opening remarks ended and the doors of the restored Leavitt House Barn at the Tuck Museum Complex were opened to the public for the first time.

The 38-foot by 36-foot barn, circa 1796, has been the focus of Hampton historians for the past four years. Formerly located on the grounds of the Taylor/Leavitt homestead at the corner of Lafayette and Drakeside Roads, the barn was slated to be demolished when, in 2004, the Historical Society and the new owners of the property entered into an agreement, breathing new life into the historic building.

Thus began the revitalization of a Hampton landmark, starting with the barn's dismantling in 2004, and its eventual reconstruction.

"This was a fun project," said Ben Moore, treasurer of the Hampton Historical Society, prior to the opening. "All in all (it was) a very happy experience."

Moore talked about raising money for salvaging and restoring the barn, with an original goal of $60,000. The project ended up being completed for $50,000, so members of the Historical Society have extra money for future needs.

Chet Riley, a major volunteer working on the barn's restoration, talked about the significance of the day at a time when the country sees the loss of 400 or 500 barns a year.

"A large group of us are involved in saving them," Riley said.

"This community grabbed onto this project," Riley said. "(We) had lots and lots of people come down and a lot of them gave money."

Entering the barn, visitors breathed in the rich smell of wood and sawdust, gazing at the original framework and beams of 212 years ago.

Catherine Fletcher, a Historical Society director for 11 years, studied some of the artifacts on display in the barn with her grandson, Salim Fletcher Blume, and other family members.

Fletcher spoke about how, at her 80th birthday party, she asked for donations to the Leavitt Barn project rather than gifts.

The Winnacunnet Road resident's generous idea was responsible for another $2,000 raised for the effort.

David DeGagne, master timber framer from Exeter, logged thousands of hours volunteering in the barn's restoration.

"It was a good community effort," DeGagne said. "I'm excited to be a part of the history of the barn. I love to put my hands where others were."

"It's exactly the way it was 212 years ago," DeGagne said.

Hampton resident Janet Fox said she enjoyed having the chance to visit the Leavitt House Barn.

"I grew up on a farm and I recognize a lot of these old things," she said. "It brings back a lot of memories."

Surrounded by farming tools, butter churns, cider presses, photos and countless memorabilia items showcasing Hampton's farming and agricultural roots, the more than 50 visitors enjoyed a concert presented by American tradition musician and storyteller Jeff Warner.

Perhaps the most meaningful moment came with the arrival of Matt Taylor of Portsmouth, whose family lived for years on the same property with the barn.

"The barn was on our property," Taylor said, as he showed his sons, Harrison, 8, and Alden, 5, around the exhibits.

"My dad built a boat here," Taylor said, reminiscing. "I worked on cars, all kinds of things, right in this barn."

Taylor, the youngest of seven children, said his parents, Arnet and Ann Taylor, had visited the museum earlier in the month.

"They did a great job (on the restoration)," Taylor said, noting the original beams still in place.

GO & DO:

Tuck Museum, at 40 Park. Ave. in Hampton, is open three days a week, Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, 1 to 4 p.m. Special tours and visits can be arranged by appointment. Those seeking more information about the museum, or wanting to become a member of the Historical Society, can visit

Musician and storyteller Jeff Warner entertains visitors to the opening of the Leavitt House Barn.
[Nancy Rineman photo]
Matt Taylor of Portsmouth and his sons, Harrison, 8, and Alden, 5, examine some of the historic artifacts of the Leavitt House Barn Sunday. Matt grew up in the Taylor/Leavitt House on Drakeside Road, where the barn was located.
[Nancy Rineman photo]
Return to Table of Contents