Franklin Pierce's Summer Cottage

at Little Boar's Head, North Hampton, NH

by William H. Teschek, Assistant Director, Lane Memorial Library

In 1865 ex-President Franklin Pierce, a New Hampshire native, purchased a piece of property on Little Boar's Head in North Hampton, New Hampshire where he built a summer home. He purchased this property from Jonathan and Joseph W. Brown, local individuals who operated a farm on the northern part of the head since at least the 1840's. The purchase price was $6200 and Pierce intended to develop it into a large summer resort. Pierce knew the New Hampshire seacoast, having spent the summer of 1852, after his nomination for the Presidency, at Rye Beach. He stayed at the Ocean House in Rye, meeting with politicians from many states who came to help with his campaign for the Presidency. He and Mrs. Pierce, who was born in Hampton, spent some time at Little Boar's Head in the following summer.

In 1866 Pierce built a two-story "cottage" on a high piece of land where "From his windows he could enjoy a far-reaching prospect off to the Isles of Shoals, Cape Ann, and Eastern Point." Here he was to spend the few remaining summers of his life. Illness forced him to leave a few weeks before his death in Concord, NH, on October 8, 1869. In the spring of that year he sold most of his Little Boar's Head property, excepting the lot on which the house was located and two other parcels of land. Pierce never lived long enough to carry out his dreams of turning the area into a summer resort.

In later years the house was owned by New Hampshire Governor (1927-1929) Huntley Spaulding. Around 1929 Spaulding sold the house to Hampton Beach businessman George Ashworth, who moved it to his present location at 422 High Street in Hampton. Ashworth called his home "Ashworth Pines". His wife, the former Grace A. Paul of Saugus, Mass., died in this home on June 17, 1944. The next owners were John P. and Myra R. Driscoll. Ashworth was boarding with Mrs. Driscoll when the 1946 town directory was published, and over the next few decades the Driscolls operated the "Ashworth Pines and Annex" tourist home here. The Annex was located at 430 High Street, the building now home to the Victoria Inn. In 2004 Myra Driscoll is still living in the summer home built by former President Franklin Pierce, now located at 422 High Street.

Additional resource: Hobbs, Stillman Moulton and Helen Davis Hobbs, "The Way It Was in North Hampton: Some History, Sketches, and Reminiscences that Illuminate the Times of a New Hampshire Seacoast Town", (Portsmouth, NH: Peter E. Randall Publisher, 1994.)