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The Old Moultonborough Town House

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Moultonborough Town House and Middle Neck School
By Barbara Ganem

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The Old Moultonborough Town House

Moultonborough was incorporated as a town in 1777,
Carroll County wasn't settled until the late 18th Century, after the French and Indians ceased fighting in 1763. The first legal town meeting in Moultonborough was held on March 31, 1778. Early town meetings were held in meetinghouses, private homes, etc. A warrant article was approved at the town meeting on March 11, 1834 to set up a committee of 21 members to plan for and locate a town house for Moultonborough. The committee chose land in the village that was owned by Moses Moulton and the widow Sophie Hoit. Jonathan Hannson, who was on the committee, won the bid to build the town house for $319. The first town meeting held there was on March 10, 1835. For over 11 decades the Town House was the focal point of local government, housing all town meetings and elections from 1835 through 1949. When voting occurred in the Town House, the Ladies Aid of the Methodist Church prepared and sold a midday meal for voters. For town meetings there was a large wood stove for heat. Settees were placed in rows in the middle and along the sides of the room for seating while the town warrants were discussed and voted on. There was a low platform with voting booths at the end of the room - you can still see tiny windows on the back wail which allowed light into the voting booths.

During the Depression President Franklin D. Roosevelt had projects to give people work. One project was the sewing of clothes for the needy. This sewing was done in the Town House by nine women.

In 1946 the town voted $1,000 for basketball equipment,since the raiding was now to be used for basketball games. The low platform and voting booths at the back were then removed in 1947 to make the floor all one level, as it is today. Since there were no dressing rooms in the Town House, the players would go next door to the Lamprey Home (now the Moultonborough Historical Society Museum) to suit up.

In 1960 it was voted at town meeting to allow the "Old Town House" to be used as a place for meetings as well as tor preservation and display of historical records and items of the town and to designate the Moultonborough Historical Society as "custodians* of the building. The society has used the building ever since for its meetings and for a museum

The Town House sits on its original location, has a fieldstone foundation, and is an example of a post and beam frame. This one-story building is amazingly very close to the original plans drawn by the committee. It is one of the oldest town houses in Carroll County and is an excellent example of the center of government in America. It is also a good example of a pre-Civil War town house. Over the years changes have been made, such as a new chimney, a side door, concrete steps replacing wooden ones, and addition of a bathroom.
On October, 26,1989 the Town House was accepted for inclusion in the National Registry of Historic Places. On a boulder in front of the Town House is mounted a bronze plaque, listing the names of the four Moultonborough men who died in World War II and in the Korean War. On the front of the building there is an honor roll listing the soldiers and sailors from Moultonborough who served in World War II.

(Compiled in 1999 by member Barbara Sheppard from "As I Remember Moultonborough" by Frances A Stevens in 1987 and from "Moultonborough to the 20th Century", compiled by Helen Sturtevant Matthews for the Moultonborough Historical Society in 1963)


VOTE HERE

(AS IN THE EARLY YEARS OF MOULTONBOROUGH)*

     Inside the Townhouse there was a platform across the end of the building with voting booths along the wall. These booths each had a little window to let in the light. These four small windows are still at the end of the hall opposite the front door, on the left-hand side above where the platform once was.

      The voting process was set up very similar to what it is today, with the officials there to give out the ballots and tend to legal procedures. There was a sort of kitchen set up on the right-hand side of the platform. Here the ladies aid from the Methodist Church prepared and sold the midday meal for the voters. There was a big box stove for heat and rows of settees in the middle and around the sides of the hall for people to sit on while the Town Warrant was being discussed and the articles being voted on.

     Town meeting was the second Tuesday in March and on the Saturday before Town Meeting they had a Citizen's Caucus. At this time they nominated the people to fill the town offices and the final vote was cast at the Town Meeting the following Tuesday.

     When people came to Town Meeting most of the woman dressed up but the men came in their work clothes. Many came in boots and dressed like lumberjacks. There was a good supply of hard cider which was passed around outside, and a few got more than their share but no one seemed to let it bother them. Someone was always there to take home the ones who were unable to maneuver under their own power.

     They usually had a good turnout and some had pretty hot arguments.

     There was an old tradition to start your tomato plants in window boxes inside the house on Town Meeting Day.

*from As I Remember Moultonborough by Frances A. Stevens