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" Bringing the Presence of the Past into the Present "

Celebrating Sarah Dow MacGregor: A Most Generous Friend of New Hampton

In 1895, Sarah Curtis Dow MacGregor was elected to the first board of trustees of the infant Gordon-Nash Library and continued to serve until her death in 1956, a tenure of 61 years. Originally from Kennebunkport, Maine, Sarah Curtis attended New Hampton School (1890-93) and, following her graduation, married a local boy, Walter Dow, on Christmas Day of 1893. [2 &3] The Warren Harvey house, Old Bristol Road, was the home Sarah and Walter built and occupied for many years. The second floor of the house was purposely left unfinished so that the young people of the town could meet there for dances. With Walter playing the violin and Sarah at the piano there was many a fun-filled evening. [1] Walter died young in a lumbering accident, and, much later, Sarah married the Reverend Charles P. MacGregor. [2] At the news of this second marriage some of the children of the village were upset. Marianne Bickford was in tears as she asked her mother if her dear Aunt Sarah had really married that awful Mr. MacGregor who was so mean to Peter Rabbit! [1]

Having inherited a large estate, Sarah was a wealthy woman. She always lived simply, however, preferring to use her resources for worthy causes. She loved New Hampton and filled many important positions in the church, in the clubs, and as a long-time trustee of both the Gordon-Nash Library and New Hampton School, as well as of The Golden Rule Farm for Boys (later the Spaulding Youth Center). [1] Always thinking of the needs of others, Sarah carefully planned her estate to bring happiness to others when she was gone. The four largest bequests were equal gifts to the New Hampton Community Church, New Hampton School, the Golden Rule Farm and the Town of New Hampton. [1] This last gift established the Sarah Dow MacGregor Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support to pursue higher education for students from the town of New Hampton. [2] Illustrated below is a 1914 invitation from Sarah to a young man on Gordon Hill, encouraging him and “his Mama” to attend the “Little Light Bearers” Rally in the vestry of the Community Church. The “Little Light Bearers” was an organization developed for children to learn about the life and work of Free Baptist missionaries. [4]
[1] Town of New Hampton Website: “Brief sketch of the life of Sarah Dow MacGregor”
[2] New Hampton, New Hampshire: A Chronicle (2003) by Kathy Neustadt & Tom Curren
[3] A History of the Gordon-Nash Library (1965) by Jeannette C. Matthews
[4] The Free Baptist Woman’s Missionary Society: 1873-1921 (1922) by Lena Fenner Dennet, Frances Stewart Mosher, and Clara A. Ricker

A 1914 postcard found on eBay. Sarah C. Dow (later MacGregor) writes to a resident of Gordon Hill hoping that he “and his Mama” will come to the Little Light Bearers Rally in the Church vestry.
All aboard, indeed! For more information on the history of the town, please visit the New Hampton Historical Society website at
Kent Bicknell
Historian, NHHS
April 9, 2019


Other Connections to our Town's Rich History....

New Hampton Had a Train Wreck?
Main Street - U.S. Cavalry enroute from Fort Ethan Allen VT to Portland ME
1798 Receipt for a Town House pew
New Hampton Town House
86 Town House Road

New Hampton Town House
Also known as the Center Meeting House, Old Meeting House
New Hampton, NH was incorporated on November 27, 1777.  By 1797-1798 the townspeople were already considering the construction of a meeting house.   At the annual town meeting in March of 1798, the voters of New Hampton decided to erect a meeting house.  Two more town meetings in April and September were required to settle all of the details of the building project.  But, the building was ready for use by the next annual town meeting in March of 1799.  It is believed that the architect/builder was Samuel Kelley, one of the town’s first settlers.  The New Hampton Town House began as the meeting house for the Town of New Hampton, serving both for religious services and town meetings.   The Town House stands on the town common on a 5.5 acre town owned lot at the northeast corner of Town House Road and Dana Hill Road, considered to be the “Center”.   This location was referred to as the “Town Common”, the “Center” and is now known as the “Old Institution”.

Click here for more on its history.
Click here for some interior and exterior photos.

Stage Curtain Restoration, 2014
A hundred years ago, grand drapes and painted backdrops were the primary artistic feature of the cultural life of almost every village and town in Northern New England and were found in town and grange halls, theaters and opera houses.

Click here for further information including photos of the curtains and biographies of the artists who painted them.

Click here for the Survey & Treatment Proposal for the Ives curtain - the Grand Drape Advertising Curtain depicting the covered bridge that once spanned the Pemigewasset River in the vicinity of the present Route 104 bridge.

Click here for the Survey & Treatment Proposal for the Thompson curtain - New Hampton Town House.
Supported in part by a grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
and the National Endowment for the Arts.