A Property of Historical Significance

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Marelli's Market Added to
NH State Register of Historic Places

By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, June 6, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News ]

FAMILY TIES -- Marelli's Market (above) in Hampton is now on the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo/Courtesy Photos]

HAMPTON -- One of Hampton's most familiar business landmarks now has a secure place in Granite State history, thanks to an honor bestowed recently by the New Hampshire Department of Historical Resources.

Marelli's Market, the beloved family-run store with its striped awnings and popular penny candy, is one of 12 properties that have recently been added to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places.

Originally located along the railroad tracks on the Exeter Road, where it was constructed c.1841, the building that houses the market was moved to its current site in 1900. Luigi Marelli and his wife Celestina, both immigrants from Italy, established the market in the mid-1910s, offering their customers primarily produce and penny candy.

After almost 100 years, Marelli's market has become an institution, patronized by generations of families from Hampton and customers from around - and beyond - the Seacoast area. The store, which is across from Luigi Marelli Square on Lafayette Road, is the longest continually-operating business in downtown Hampton, with various Marelli family members at the helm as the decades have gone by.

Customers stepping through the door are not only greeted with the type of hometown familiarity that such a business is built upon, but also with a selection of goods that ranges from roasted nuts, newspapers and canned goods, to ice cold beverages, snacks and lottery tickets.

Behind the counter is a nostalgic display that includes antique milk bottles, old-fashioned signage and photos of Marelli family members. Among all this is pair of framed certificates issued by the Ellis Island Foundation, naming Luigi and Celestina Marelli to the organization's American Immigrant Wall of Honor.

Then there's that famous wall with shelf upon shelf of tempting sweets, in front of which many a child (and grown-up) has stood, making that all-important candy purchasing decision. Countless kids have made the after-school pilgrimage to Marelli's, and plenty of adults, too, have used the store as a gathering place to talk over the issues of the day.

Now with this priceless historic designation there's something new for patrons to discuss. The nomination process was put forth earlier this year by sisters Karen Raynes and Marcia (Raynes) Hannon, two of Luigi and Celestina's granddaughters. Their mother was the late Jean Marelli Raynes, one of the couple's four children.

"We're so excited," says Hannon, adding her mother "would have been real happy about this."

Hannon explains how "tons of research was done by my sister Karen, who found herself in libraries and at the County Courthouse of Records logging endless hours of discovery. She did a great job, as did Christine Fonda Rankie, architectural historian at the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources who helped with special considerations."

Hannon adds, "They deterimined it in late April at one of their meetings. It was quick!"

The NH State Register of Historic Places "recognizes and honors properties that are meaningful in the history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or traditions" of the communities and residents of the Granite State. It is just one facet of the state's efforts "to identify and protect historically-significant properties" throughout New Hampshire.

Marelli's Market joins a long list of recognized properties around the state, including the People's Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Randall Farm in Lee, the Graves Homestead in Brentwood, the North District School and the Thomas Ayres Homestead in Greenland, the North Hampton Town Hall, and the Odiorne Homestead in Rye.

"These irreplaceable resources are the physical manifestation of our state's history and identity," says NH's State Historic Preservation Officer, Elizabeth Muzzey. "They create New Hampshire's distinct identity and serve as the backbone to the state's heritage tourism economy."

And for one well-known local family, this special historical designation (a newly-designed plaque is in the making) is a source of pure joy.

"All of us," says Hannon, "are thrilled with this honor and recognition from the State of New Hampshire."

The family business was nominated by Marcia (Raynes) Hannon and her sister Karen Raynes, pictured above with their Uncle Richard Marelli; Richard, pictured below with his wife Trudi, is the current proprietor.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo/Courtesy Photos]

View a 30-minute video on the history of Marelli's

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