For our new readers, this is part of our “Building History” series where we work to document as much of a building’s history as possible with sources ranging from building plaques to the National Register of Historic Places. It’s this history that makes Northern New England such a special place to live and visit.
Additionally, the power of the internet is being able to “connect the dots” with tags. As such, we try to tag items like the architect(s) who built them or the owner(s) who owned them. Over time this will provide a larger view of our architectural heritage as numerous buildings can be tied together through their common ancestry.
This post on the Endicott Hotel is a perfect example. You can see that the architectural firm who built this building has left their mark in other neighboring towns. After reading the post, we are sure it will be easy for you to identify the target of our next step stop in our “Building History” series 🙂
Here is the history of the Endicott Hotel:
The Endicott Hotel in Concord, N.H., is significant because of its importance in the commercial development of downtown Concord in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and because it is the most important surviving commercial building designed by the regionally well-know architectural firm of Damon Brothers (C. Willis Damon and Charles Page Damon) of Haverhill, Massachusetts, and – so far as is know – the only building by the firm constructed in Concord.
Also, the building is the critical one in the later nineteenth century commercial development of Main Street in Concord because it was the first large commercial building constructed on Main Street south of Pleasant Street and thereby pulled the center of downtown commerce southward, turning Pleasant Street into a major cross-axis for commerce; in addition, it was the first large commercial building in downtown Concord to be wholly devoted to businesses and offices (rather than having lodge or meeting rooms on its upper floors like the nearby Oddfellows and Masonic Buildings, or having one business occupy the entire building). The Endicott Hotel (as it was later known), acquired significance in the area of commerce in the period 1894-1908, corresponding to its date of completion (1893) and operation by its first owner, who sold it in 1908.
The building contrasts architecturally with other Concord commercial buildings of the late nineteenth century in having been designed by a well-known architectural firm from another state, and – because of that – showing a fully-developed version of the standard national commercial style of that era, albeit with Damon Brothers’ trademark of the Queen Anne Style corner oriel.
Commercially, the Endicott Hotel took advantage of the construction of the new railroad passenger depot at the east end of Pleasant Street (in 1885) and the widening of that segment of the street in 1891 as well as the extension of the trolley tracks westward on Pleasant Street in that year, while architecturally it represents the ambitions of Charles G. Blanchard, the local drygoods dealer who had it built; Blanchard reached outside of the local architectural community to bring in a firm which had recently attained a statewide and regional reputation for good design.
The property attained significance in the years 1894-1908, being constructed from 1891-1894, and operated as a combination office and business block by the original owner until its sales in 1908 to ex-Governor John B. Smith. The Smith family’s conversion of the upper stories to a transient hotel between 1914 and 1920 retained the commercial connection of the building with the nearby railroad depot.
The basement and the first stories of the building have always retained their commercial function as the home of various businesses. The upper stories of the building were converted to apartments in 1985, retaining the basic circulation patterns and interior trim configuration.
Architecturally, the exterior of the building was always – by far – the more significant part, and it survives essentially intact from 1894, with the minor (and unobtrusive) addition of Carrera Glass surrounding the first story shop windows on the west side, 1941–itself part of the commercial history of the Endicott Hotel.
The name “Endicott” dates from 1908 when Gov. Smith purchased the building; named for an early Massachusetts governor who had the area of Concord surveyed, it is by that name that the building is popularly know in the State of New Hampshire.
Concord underwent considerable commercial expansion from the 1880s to 1920, stimulated by the growth of railroad facilities there. A new passenger depot was built at the east end of Pleasant Street (formerly known as Railroad Street) in 1885. This stimulated growth along that street; the Oddfellows Building with its stepped Gothic parapet being built west of Main Street in 1888.
In 1891, the electric street railway tracks (already existing on Main Street) were laid the entire length of Pleasant Street, and the frame Elm House Hotel, existing from 1860s on the northeast corner of Main and Pleasant Streets, was demolished to allow the widening of the east end of the latter street–i.e., the part leading from Main Street to the new railroad passenger depot.
. . . the Endicott Hotel was designed by Damon Brothers of Haverhill, Massachusetts, of whom C. Willis Damon apparently was the principal partner. Enrolled in the M.I.T. architecture program from 1869-71 (hence one of its earliest students), by 1873 he was practicing architecture in Haverhill as the first professionally-trained architect of that city.
Although the firm designed many houses in Haverhill and elsewhere, mainly in the Queen Anne and Shingle styles, it was best-known for its public and commercial works, which included rebuilding of the Haverhill City Hall in 1888; courthouses in Plymouth and Portsmouth, N.H. (both 1891), and the Woodsville Opera House in Woodsville, N.H. (1890; the town is part of Haverhill, N.H.), as well as a group of schools in Haverhill, Ma. (including the 1908 High School, now City Hall) and numerous factory buildings there and elsewhere. The partnership dissolved in 1915; Willis Damon died in 1916 and his brother, Charles Page Damon, in 1919.
In the mid-1880s, Damon Brothers designed a number of buildings in the small town of Tilton, N.H., north of Concord. These included Knowles Hall ( a dormitory of Tilton School), the exhibition building fro the New Hampshire State Grange, the Lovering Hotel and Tilton Block, as well as buildings in nearby Laconia and Franklin, N.H. (all designed in 1886).
Also in this period, the firm designed several large business blocks in Haverhill, Ma., including – among others – the Corliss Block and the Chase and Morse Block (both 1886), and the Daggett Building (1887). All of these were multi-use buildings incorporating offices and stores and, in some cases, dwelling units as well. Moreover, all were of several stories and included a corner oriel tower.
The Daggett Building, especially, was very similar in its exterior elevations to the Endicott Hotel, even to being located on a sloping site. Described in detail in a local newspaper when it was built, the Daggett Building was demolished in 1978 for a parking garage; the other Haverhill commercial buildings have also been demolished.
The Woodsville, N.H., Opera House was placed on the National Register in 1980, the Courthouse in Plymouth, N.H. in 1984, while the courthouse in Portsmouth, N.H. was demolished in the 1960s. Of all the commercial buildings cited, the Woodsville Opera House is the only other extant, documented example of Damon Brothers’ commercial work; it is a smaller building and has limited relevance to the design issues of the large urban commercial block as seen in the Endicott Hotel.
Source: National Register of Historic Places (pdf).
Also check out the brief history provided on the Endicott Hotel website. According to the website, the building was nearly lost to fire a few years ago, but is now being renovated into apartments.
In the late Winter of 2012, the nearly vacant Endicott was struck with a fire. Because the building was empty at the time, the human damages were minimal, but the damage to the building was extensive. Over a year later, Cobb Hill staff and contractors are still working to repair the fire’s damage. Recent demolition revealed extensive structural damage to the building, which we believe was caused during prior renovations, as support beams and load-bearing walls were moved or removed.
The team is now working to repair the structural damage, by inserting a steel structural framework into the building. While the fire was unfortunate, if it had not happened, the structural damage may not have been revealed — a blessing in disguise.
Pictures of the ongoing renovations can be found on the Cobb Hill Construction website. Finished apartments are now leasing so get yours today!
Be sure to visit our complete Town Picture Gallery for Concord, New Hampshire and for 47 other towns . . . more coming soon.
You can also see all of our Building History posts here.