Landmark Country Estate for Offer for Just Sixth Time in 200 Years

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Maplewood Farm, in Hillsborough NH, is an classic 19th century farm on 14 rural acres just a half mile from historic Hillsborough Center. The landmark farmhouse was originally erected between 1793 and 1794 by Fisher Gay, a tanner from Attleboro, Mass. The property is bounded to the North by the Fox State Forest, to the East and South by the Molly Jackson brook, and to the West by the Center road. Stone walls run along 70 percent of the boundaries. Maplewood Farm is ae main farmhouse, and a barn - and has been in the hands of just 6 families in its hisotry.

The house and its land are for offer for 4585,000 from Landvest. a unique investment that comes along just once in a lifetime. It is just 80 miles north of Boston, 1 hour from Manchester Airport, and 25 minutes from concord, NH.

The landmark farmhouse was originally erected between 1793 and 1794 by Fisher Gay, a tanner from Attleboro, Mass. The white clapboard house with black shutters has always welcomed guests. In Fisher Gay’s time the house was a tavern, and became a summer getaway after the Civil War. According to G. Waldo Browne’s History of Hillsborough, the train from Boston brought more changes. “With its attractive surroundings, Maplewood became a popular resort for summer boarders, and so numerous did these become that in 1892 a separate house, with rooms for the accommodation of 30 or more people was built near the farm house.”

Local historian and author, Lisabel Gay, concluded her 1928 history of Hillsborough Center with a remembrance of her childhood home,

“I will turn right here and go back to the other side of Peaked Hill to Maplewood Farm. The big white house, under two tall elms will always be home to me, wherever fate calls me to live. . .”

In its evolution and appearance Maplewood is a classic example of a New Hampshire farm: big house, little house, back house, barn. The structure is a post and beam construction through out. Originally built around 1810 as a simple three room center-chimney cape, the house was expanded around 1837 with a larger Vernacular Georgian wing (with five windows over four).

The front house has two high chimneys rising at either end. A Victorian-style porch follows the front of the house, with four square trimmed support columns. Photographs show the porch as early as 1890. The elegant central entry door is flanked by vertical 8/8 side lights on either side.

The back house grew out of the cape in the 1880’s. Although the back house retains its period feel, the windows are all modern, as are the doors, but on the East side an original wide plank door to old root cellar and cistern survives, with its iron hinges and thumblatch.

Two more bedrooms are found in the rear section. Originally, a 19th century tack room and then a quilter's shop, this spacious area offers exposed beams, wood paneling, and a quilt painted onto the floor. There is a gas fireplace, and the full bath offers a walk-in shower.

All this is surrounded by more than 50 acres of open pasture lands, forests (The Fox State Forest to the North and West). We know that the farm itself reached 160 acres at its height, and that it boasted 30 acres of orchards running West to the Center.

One half mile up the road lies Hillsborough Center, settled in the 1760’s and the early 19th century town center. The Center is Hillsborough’s Historic District, and Maplewood is mere half mile South of the district boundary. The well preserved collection of house from 1773 to 1911 represent a typical prosperous hilltop farming community. Although forests have covered the long abandoned fields, the town retains its 19th century feel and look.    

Historic Hillsborough

Hillsborough began at up the road at what is today referred to as Hillsborough Center. The area was first settled by Europeans in the middle 17th Century, under a grant from Colonel John Hill of Boston, who lent his name to the settlement. By 1772, Hillsborough incorporated as a town, and held its first town meeting on November 14, 1772 at the old Bradford Inn on Bible Hill.

Soon, there would be three more Hillsboroughs: Hillsborough Bridge, the mill town on the Contoocook river that is today’s downtown, and the quaint Upper and Lower Villages with their stately homes along the Second NH Turnpike.

The Gays: 1783-1938

The house’s history an role in the evolution of Hillsborough is well documented. This is mostly because the same family that built and named Maplewood Farm lived in it for 150 years. All told, the house has had a mere six owners in 200 years. The founding family, the Gays, played a vital role in the life if Hillsborough, producing writers, educators, deacons, farmers, politicians, and local characters. Hillsborough’s older generations not only remember “Blonde,” Frank and Lisabel Gay, but can share colorful tales of these siblings who changed the town they were born in.

The farm’s name may come from the maples planted by William Gay, Fisher’s great grandson, one of which still towers over the farmhouse. It was Edwin Gay (1835-?) who added the back house, mostly to house grain from the farm's fields. The last generation of Gays to inhabit Maplewood was remarkable. First, there was Julia Gay, who made a grand tour of Europe in 1912, sending a enthralling series of letters back to her family (now in the Inn’s collection). She studied at Boston and Chicago universities, and went on to become the first female superintendent of schools in America, serving six years in that role in Dundee, Illinois. Julia then served as Preceptress at Colby Academy for more than a decade.

The last generation of the Gay family, Walter and his wife Wilhelmina sold the farm and it lands and contents at auction in 1939.


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Bob Gregg
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