Marking 250 Years,
Meredith Is Still a Welcoming Port
By Stacy Milbouer and Tom Long / Fiddlehead Contributing Editors
Meredith is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year, and they’re doing it up big. Why not? It’s an ideal community in many ways with memorable views of verdant hills and the blue glories of Lake Winnipesaukee.
Meredith may be the most welcoming port on New Hampshire’s great lake.
There are enough inns and hotels to satisfy the most discerning traveler, restaurants that cater to nearly every taste, live theater, an active arts community and enough shopping to please a family of Kardashians.
Not to mention that it’s a port-of-call for the MV Mount Washington, which harkens to the town’s earlier days as a steamship stop and a large town dock that accommodates scores of water sport lovers.
Here’s a primer.
The Name Game
Meredith is the town so nice they named it thrice. The settlement, sandwiched between the banks of lakes Winnipesaukee, Waukewan and Winnisquam, was originally named Palmer’s Town for the man who surveyed the land in 1748.
Many of the early settlers came from Salem, Mass., so they renamed it New Salem. The land was regranted in 1768 by Gov. John Wentworth and renamed yet again, this time after Sir William Meredith, a member of England’s Parliament, who opposed taxation in the Colonies.
It’s Not Exactly Riverdale, but It’s Close
Bob Montana, the late creator of the “Archie” comic books, was a resident of the town. He was heavily involved in community affairs and drew a poster of Archie for the town’s 200th anniversary celebration. On Aug. 9, a statue of Archie by New England sculptor Valery Mahuchy will be unveiled in Community Park across from the former site of Montana’s gallery and frame shop on Main Street.
The outlet of Lake Waukewan into Winnipesaukee via a 40-foot waterfall powered a sawmill, gristmill and shingle mill in the village. The arrival of the railroad in 1849 turned the town into the summer resort that it remains today, with the Mill Falls Marketplace shops, restaurants and spectacular grounds as its focal point.
Art & Culture
The Winnipesaukee Playhouse presents professional and community theater productions. From May 10-13, the Winni Players will present a new adaptation of Gogol’s comedy about a clerk mistaken for “The Government Inspector.” From June 13-23, the company will present Strindberg’s naturalistic drama “Miss Julie.” See winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org for a complete schedule of upcoming production.
Meredith also has a thriving visual arts and crafts community. Vynee Hale is one of the kings of the art scene and keeps court at his VynnArt Gallery at 30 Main St.
There he has his own painting space, rotating exhibits, pop-up art shows and open painting studios. The gallery serves not only as a place to create and sell art, but also as a community gathering space.
Oglethorpe Fine Arts & Crafts and Artisans by the Bay in the Marketplace and League of NH Craftsmen at 279 D.W. Highway also exhibit and sell fine and craft arts. But one need not go inside to see fine art in town. The Greater Meredith Program is sponsoring its Fourth Annual Sculpture Walk this year. The walk, which can be followed with a free pamphlet, includes more than 30 sculptures from artists throughout the Northeast in a self-guided walking tour along Main Street, the Mill Falls Marketplace, the waterfront and in several parks. The sculptures range from abstract to figural and stay up year-round, looking different depending on the weather, light and time of year.
The Inns at Mill Falls are four separate inns around Meredith Bay: Inn at Mill Falls, Chase House, Bay Point and Church Landing. They’re all housed in buildings that keep with the spirt of a quality lake getaway, great dining, spas and all.
On the smaller side is The Tuckernuck Inn, 25 Red Gate Lane, a B&B with five rooms on a hill overlooking the village; and the Nutmeg Inn, 80 Pease Road, in a 1768 colonial homestead, which has been a farm, coach inn and a boarding school over the years.
Hart’s Turkey Farm is a Lakes Region tradition, serving its eponymous poultry and other dishes on a hilltop overlooking the village since 1954. The recipes have not changed since its inception.
Town Docks is a waterfront eatery with a tiki bar, outdoor seating and a place to tie up your boat.
Camp Bar & Restaurant, 300 D.W. Highway, serving comfort food and drink with a summer-camp theme; Lago Costa Cucina, on U.S. 25, serving rustic Italian fare, and Lakehouse Grille, 281 D.W. Highway, are part of the Common Man family of restaurants.
In the Mill Falls Marketplace, the Waterfall Café serves breakfast and lunch with lake views on the side, and Giuseppe’s Pizzeria and Ristorante serves up nightly entertainment and some of the best pizza around.
On Main Street, Hermit Woods Winery is not only a place to sample and buy the local vintage, but also has a deli where charcuterie and sandwiches and vino, of course, are available for a classy and quick nosh. There are regular wine tastings, and you may also tour their wine cellar for $25.
The 48 Main Café & Creperie has sweet and savory pancakes as well as a hip coffeehouse vibe.
The Lakeview Tavern, also on Main Street, is a sports bar with a dartboard, pool table and wide-screen TVs.
Down the way, at 10 Plymouth St., George’s Diner is the real thing. It has been serving comfort food like its iconic homemade, corned beef hash to locals for more than 25 years. Its motto says it all: “Just good food.”
The two main shopping areas in Meredith are the Mill Falls Marketplace and Main Street – right next to one another. The Marketplace is situated in a 19th-Century former linen mill. The waterfall, which once powered the factory, still rushes between the Marketplace and the adjacent Inn at Mill Falls, and, in the warm weather, flowers of all colors and scents are planted throughout. It would be easy to spend a full day here and never have to move your car once it’s parked.
In addition to the sculpture walk, the Greater Meredith Program, a group devoted to “preserve the past, promote the present and plan the future” has a “Do the Loop” pamphlet – a self-guided walking tour of the village, including the Mill Falls Marketplace as well as Main Street boutiques and eateries.
At the Marketplace you can grab a good read at the Innisfree Book Shop. The shop has the latest novels and nonfiction and a large local books section with many volumes of lake lore.
Frocks and togs of all types can be found at Adornments and Lady of the Lake. And for wicked-clever T-shirts and New England sports-themed merchandise, check out Nahamsha Gifts.
Lake-chic furnishings are featured at Cozy Cabin Rustics, lodge- and nautical-themed gifts and décor can also be found at Great Northern Trading Company, while rustic is the rage at Country Carriage in the Marketplace.
At 51 Main St., Once New Vintage Wares & Salvage is a picker’s delights. It’s a warren of rooms crammed floor to ceiling with old photos, books, vinyl records, stoneware jugs, wrenches, whetstones and other real and imagined treasures. It’s like picking through an old Yankee’s barn.
Michaela M. Copeland moved to Meredith from Warwick, R.I., and opened Lake Effect at 23 Main St. because she “wanted to live a simpler life” and sell locally made, high-quality gifts, including custom-etched granite cutting boards with the map of Lake Winnipesaukee and a marker indicating one’s cottage or any lake location a customer would like.
Sacred Tree Herbals, at 40 Main St., carries more than 200 types of culinary and medicinal herbs, skin-care products, syrups and aromatherapy.
Outside of the village at 339 Daniel Webster Highway is Annalee Dolls, selling the collectable elf-like creations decked out for all occasions and invented in town by Barbara Annalee Davis.
For fresh fruit, vegetables and fish, head to Moulton Farm at 18 Quarry Road.
You can walk a mile in your moccasins and then some at the Meredith Trading Post, which has been selling moccasins on Route 104 for more than 100 years. Since it opened in 1907 it has expanded its merchandise.
“We have a little bit of everything,” co-owner Lori Fresolo said recently. That’s true – there’s everything from Stetson Hats, to motorcycle gear and, of course, moccasins.
And the Trading Post is all about authentic Native American items like baby headdresses and handcrafted jewelry by Dancing Bear, aka, Nancy Sawyer, a Native American from Bristol, as well as Navajo dreamcatchers and jewelry.
“Nothing was made in China,” said Fresolo. “If it looks Native American, it is,” she said.
Take a Trip
After all that land-lubbing fun it might be nice to hit the lake. The 230-foot tour boat, the MV Mount Washington stops in Meredith in summer on its circuitous cruises of Winnipesaukee. You can also take a two-hour tour of the lake on the smaller Doris E. Consult cruisenh.com for information.
The Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad also departs from town for waterfront train trips to Weirs Beach and Lakeport. It’s particularly fun for kids. See hoborr.com for information.
Happy Birthday, Meredith
By Stacy Milbouer / Fiddlehead Contributing Editor
Can you imagine what a birthday party five years in the planning will look like? Just go to Meredith and you’ll find out.
That’s how long the Meredith 250th Committee has been working on this year’s festivities, according to co-chair and Meredith Select Board member, Jeanie Forrester.
“I love Meredith,” said Forrester. “The shops, the business people, the residents are all friendly, and it’s a beautiful place, with attractive, non-cookie cutter buildings, the lake and the flowers throughout the village.
“The summer is great. We have the lake – boating, fishing, swimming, camping. But it’s great all year round. There’s something to do in all four seasons, and it’s gorgeous in all four seasons.
“It’s a great place for tourists, but it’s not just for tourists,” she said. “It’s a great place to live. That’s what this 250th celebration is all about.”
And here are some of the activities planned as part of that celebration:
The Meredith 250th Committee, the town Historical Society and the Laconia Daily Sun have published “Meredith 250th: Celebrating 250 Years of Meredith History,” a coffee-table book with 250 images tracing the town’s history from the 1800s to today. It’s available at the Laconia Daily Sun office at 1127 Union Ave., Laconia.
Special anniversary commemorative objects, such as coasters, baseball caps and ornaments can be found at shops throughout town, including Lake Effect and Ogle.
On July 4, the contents of a time capsule buried during the town’s 200th anniversary will be unveiled in Chase House.
“I’m dying to see what’s in it,” said Vynnie Hale, an artist and proprietor of VynnArt Gallery at 30 Main St. in town. “Fifty years ago we did a project in school that went into the capsule. I don’t remember what I made. I hope it’s not embarrassing.”
According to Forrester, a new time capsule is scheduled to be excavated during the town’s tercentennial, 50 years from now.
The Meredith Historical Society is sponsoring a free lecture series on the town history with presentations on the Civil War, Bear Island and the changing role of agriculture in town and other subjects. See mhsweb.org for a schedule.
The 250th Anniversary Parade will be held down Main Street on Aug. 11 starting at 10 a.m.
For details on the celebration, visit the Greater Meredith Program online at greatermeredithprogram.com