Restaurant to Become Residence

by Steve Jusseaume

Hampton Union, November 25, 2003

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON - A North Beach restaurant, a fixture under various ownership on Ocean Boulevard for the past 30 years, was sold at auction last week and will be converted to a residence, as it was when built in the early 1920s.

The Beach House, owned and operated by Norman and Linda Fortier for the past two seasons, changed hands on Friday during a foreclosure sale.

The buyers, Stuart and Priscilla Fanning, of 2 Smith Ave., outbid more than a dozen bidders on the property.

While the exact price the Fannings paid for the property was not immediately available, it was "considerably higher" than the assessed value of $502,800.

"We paid a premium for the property, but we had ulterior motives," said Stuart Fanning who owns a home just in back of the structure, following the sale.

The selling price included $19,956.85 due the town in back taxes.

The three-story Dutch Colonial is located on the corner of Ocean Boulevard and Smith Avenue on a 9,000-square foot lot facing Plaice Cove across the street. Smith Avenue is a dead-end street that leads to the Greenlands, a cluster of 100 seasonal detached single-family homes that, in the early part of the 20th century, served as a tenting campground. The first permanent wood-frame cottage was reportedly build in the back property in the mid-1930s.

The Fanning family has owned the Greenlands since 1944.

Fanning said he plans to convert the building to a duplex for his two grown daughters, one of whom lives with her husband in Rochester. The other daughter, also married, lives on Okinawa. Japan.

Among the bidders on the property were several developers, some of whom would have kept the building a restaurant, while others had interest in the property for condo conversion.

The building, once owned as a residence by the Langley family, was converted to a restaurant called Chez Marie in the early 1970s. Ron Boucher bought the building in 1986 and opened Ron's Beach House. In the mid-'90s, Boucher relocated the business to Hampton Beach proper. The Fortiers purchased the building about 2000.

Two years ago a proposal was submitted to the town to convert the structure to a 12-unit condominium. Although that plan was rejected by the town, Fanning explained he did not want to see any further attempts to convert the building to condos, or re-open as a restaurant, so he decided to buy it.

"We just wanted to keep it from becoming condos, and some people were talking about re-opening a restaurant," Fanning said.

"A duplex would work out well for the family. This is the right time. It's a big project; we've got some work ahead of us, but we won't do anything major until next year."

Fanning said he has hired an architect "but I'm still not sure what we've got ourselves into.

"We're familiar with the place. It's got a lot of bathrooms but no shower or bath; there are tables still in there, and silverware for a few hundred I think. If anybody is having a party and needs chairs and tables, or knives and forks, they can call us," Fanning joked.