Hampton: A Century of Town and Beach, 1888-1988 -- Book Jacket Blurb

Hampton: A Century of Town and Beach, 1888-1988

By Peter Evans Randall

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The farming town which Joseph Dow and his daughter Lucy described in their excellent History of the Town of Hampton, New Hampshire, published in 1894, is no more. In its place is a growing residential community and a resort which is a center for tourism in New Hampshire and New England. This book is the story of the changes and growth which transformed Hampton from that rural village of a few hundred residents into today's bustling town of about 12,000 people.

Even as the Dows were completing their two volume history, the winds of change were blowing through this ancient town. The most noticeable breezes perhaps were along the seashore where the Hampton Beach resort community was mainly a collection of old fashioned hotels. The construction of the Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury Street Railway, the Casino, and the wooden Mile Bridge across Hampton River changed both the Beach and the Town forever. Most of the old hotels were burned or torn down and were replaced new larger buildings, and by acres of cottages, rooming houses and, later, motels.

The street railway brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to Hampton Beach boosting the resort into one of the largest tourist centers in New England. From a Beach dominated by men named Lovell, Whittier, Cutler and Dumas, the resort was pushed along by others named Ashworth, Ring, Dudley, White, and Dineen.

From the trolley era through the coming of the automobile, the Beach grew, despite fires, erosion, and savage ocean storms which finally led the Town to deed over the beach front to the State in exchange for a mighty seawall.

The rest of Hampton changed more slowly than did the Beach although the farms which dotted the town gradually went out of business as farmers and their wives travelled out of town to work. Hampton's shopping center, little changed since the turn of the century, was dominated early by men named Lane, Cole, and Towle.

Community growth was slow until after World War II. Returning servicemen and immigrants from Massachusetts fueled a period of growth which made Hampton one of the fastest growing towns in New Hampshire. Former farms became housing developments as the rural village became a residential community.

The development of a water company and a sewage treatment system, the establishment of police and fire departments, a public library, controversies over the use of publicly owned land and the granting of liquor licenses, riots, discrimination, storms, the use of the salt marshes and the advent of conservation as a community issue, and the growth of schools, churches, and community organizations are all part of the story of Hampton from 1888 until 1988.

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