Citizen Remembers The Fire -- March 29, 1949

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By Dorothy Spear, North Hampton, N.H.

Atlantic News (Date Unknown)

[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News]

To the Editor:

With the enclosed, I've tried to express my thoughts, and to tell of the things I saw the morning the Hampton Town Hall burned.

Now and then the Atlantic News has an item, or picture that brings back things almost forgotten.

Several weeks ago an article referring to a mill that was at Winnicut River in Stratham prompted me to go through my news scraps but to no avail.

Since then I have found both the notes, and snapshots (two) of the mill.

One note from my scrapbook I thought might be of interest to Hampton is that in 1722, a John Garland of Hampton had a grist mill on Winnicut River.

The above, I believe, was found in [Joseph] Dow's History of Hampton.

There was also an added note that a saw mill was believed to have been on the river as early as 1701.

March 19, 1949

There's one thing I remember about March 19, 1949. It was cold! Also, there was a good covering of snow on the ground.

One moment all was quiet at home and in the next we were up, dressed, and headed for Hampton -- to a fire.

By the time we arrived at the scene I was ready to ask, "The Town Hall? How'd you know?"

We were a part of the early arrivals. The roof was gone and the fire was eating its way down the walls to the second floor. White puffs of smoke rose from the stairway and darker smoke poured out from the farther side.

Now and then flames flared up, and others burst through the sides in unexpected places.

Streams of water were poured onto the burning structure and soon a saddened skeleton of a once proud building stood out against the morning light.

At the height of the fire I was remembering, and seeing through the steam and smoke, the town meetings, graduations, school plays, dances and entertainments. I was there. I was a part of each.

Now I'm one of the "Old Ones" who can remember, and look back.

This I know -- the building may be gone but the memories will live with me forever.

Sincerely, Dorothy Spear

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