The Wolfeboro Historic Society maintains several property museums in the Wolfeboro area. The Society’s objective is “the encouragement of interest in the history of the Town of Wolfeboro, NH, by all appropriate means, including the collection, display and care of articles of historic interest pertaining to the history of Wolfeboro, and the ownership, lease or operation of property involved therewith for the benefit of this and future generations.”
It’s a mighty tall order, and they’re doing a great job of it, too. The Society operates a collection of historic buildings and antiques in Wolfeboro that includes the Clark house, the Firehouse, and the Pleasant Valley Schoolhouse.
The Clark house was built in 1778, and it remains on its original foundation. It was once the family home of a 100-acre working farm that extended from South Main Street to the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.
Joseph Clark purchased the house in 1817 from the widow Evans who used the house as a tavern. Taverns in those days were more like today’s Inns – they were establishments for eating and sleeping. Joseph Clark was a cabinetmaker from Greenland, New Hampshire, which is near Portsmouth. Over the span of 100 years, three generations of the Clark family lived in this house. In 1917 the house and remaining land were donated to the Town of Wolfeboro by Greenleaf Clark to be used as a living history museum.
The Firehouse museum showcases the area’s firefighting prowess. The museum features restored antique fire-fighting pieces used in Wolfeboro. The pieces date from the mid 1800’s and several of them were restored by the Wolfeboro High School.
The collection included hand tubs, which were simple pumps on wheels that were filled with water and transported to the fire, hose carriers, which carried up to 300 feet of hoses that would be used along with the hand tubs, and a restored Amoskeg horse drawn fire engine. This engine uses a wood/coal fired burner to convert water to steam thereby providing a source of pressure to pump water though an output hose directed at the fire. While it was never used to fight fires in Wolfeboro, it is one of only 75 still in existence.
The one-room Pleasant Valley Schoolhouse was built around 1805 on a site in Pleasant Valley in South Wolfeboro. This school is known by several names. At one time, schools named for the district in which they were located. The Pleasant Valley School was located in District Three and so was known as the District #3 School. It was also known as the Townsend School because it was near the home of Reverend Isaac Townsend, the first minister ordained in Wolfeboro. All grades were taught in this school, with the enrollment ranging from 20 to 50 studfents, depending on the time of year.
In 1898, a bell for the school was purchased by public donations. It was 21 inches in diameter, weighed 100 pounds, and cost between $7 and $8. The bell was used as a fire alarm and to call worshippers to Sunday services. It was not used to summon children to school. The building was used for religious services more than any other local school until well into the late 1890’s.
The Schoolhouse was moved to the Clark Museum Complex in 1959. It’s worth a trip back in time to see how local students fared long ago.
The museum complex is located at:
Wolfeboro, NH 03894
The museums are open May-September and more information is available on the Wolfeboro Historic Society’s website.