A few weeks ago, we were driving on 112 (the other Kancamagus Highway) toward Lincoln, New Hampshire to get to I-93 on our way to Manchester for a meeting. Just outside of Woodstock we noticed a large yellow excavator parked next to the cute building shown above (picture via Google Maps). The building was perched above Lost River, and had, to the best of my knowledge, been there for a very long time.
I had a nagging feeling I should get a picture, but we had little time to spare to get to the meeting. We hoped instead that today was not demolition day. So we drove on . . . big mistake.
On the way back, we prepared to stop to get a picture of the building. We were too late. The excavator had already devoured most of the building. As we drove by we could see the foundation and Lost River below.
The cabin, shown below, was also a casualty, but we didn’t know that at the time until driving by again a few days later. The cabin is even closer to the river and we had always tried to imagine what it would be like to spend the night there. The roar of the river, especially during snow melt season, must have been deafening.
So, we did some poking around to try to find out why the buildings were, perhaps needlessly, knocked down. We knew the bigger building had been a restaurant at one time. Indeed it was — Govoni’s Italian Restaurant at 521 Lost River Road, North Woodstock, NH (link to Yelp)
It was apparently a charming and popular restaurant earning 3, 5 star reviews and 1, 4 star review. We have no idea how long the Yelp posting will stay up since the restaurant is closed, as such, we are posting the review below since they really convey the sense of loss here (no pun intended):
This was one of the most charming, classic, authentic restaurants I’d ever been to in the world. Italian food would come on simple white dishes. The dining room was checkered tablecloths and Chianti bottle candlesticks. The picture windows in the back overlooked a small gorge with a footbridge that was taken down a few years ago. Kind of like out of a Frank Capra movie. So sad that it is not there. But happy that no one has bought it and turned it into an Olive Garden or some other cookie-cutter place.
My wife and I used to dine there about four times during the summer. We once drive one and three quarters of an hour just to dine there and turn around and drive home. We terribly miss Govoni’s. It was great ! Now, unfortunatey, it’s just a memory, but a very enjoyable memory. Paul and Julie, we miss you.
This is a family run restaurant that has been there for years. Now it’s only opened in summer (closing 9/5 for the season). It gets very crowded so go early or be ready to wait a long time. it’s worth it.
I had one of the specials, chicken carnavale, it was fabulous! Very flavorful. My fiance had the lasagna, it looked like the sauce was a little burned, but he liked it just the same. The meatballs are served without sauce which is odd, and they are just ok.
The stuffed mushroom appetizer was great. The salad reminded me of my Italian grandmother, yummy dressing served family style
We didn’t have any dessert but we say lots of them come out and they looked great.
The location is great, there is a river right behind the place.
Definitely go early! Its completely worth the wait. I had the Shrimp Boursin and it was so delicious I was at a loss for words when the waiter asked how I liked it. EVERYTHING, right down to the house salad was phenominal!! The atmosphere is typically italian cute (like your in an old farmhouse) and the restaurant is set next to Indian Leap & Agasiz (sp) Basin a popular and picturesque swimming hole! If they are open, go, you won’t regret it!!!
But wait! There’s more! Based on the last review, we did a quick Google search on the “Indian Leap / Agassiz Basin” and discovered that is a very popular spot for cliff diving/jumping. The article in the link mentions Govoni’s and discusses a parking issue where the restaurant and swimmers share parking.
So we have to wonder, was Govoni’s demolished to make way for more parking for this popular swimming hole? We certainly hope not. Our building heritage is just as important as our natural heritage. We just don’t build buildings like this anymore.
Even if the Italian restaurant was no longer viable as a business entity, surely another use could have been found. Seems like a perfect spot for an ice cream stand or even a small general store.
If anyone has any information as to why these buildings were demolished, please share in the comments below.
Here is a video we found showing daring cliff jumpers at Indian Leap.