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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 4, 2016

Shelly Angers, N.H. Department of Cultural Resources
(603) 271-3136
shelly.angers@dcr.nh.gov
Twitter: @NHCulture

Centennial Hall named to National Register of Historic Places

The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources is proud to announce that Centennial Hall in North Hampton has been honored by the United States Secretary of the Interior with placement on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is significant both for its architecture and for its role in the community as a center of education and recreation.

Centennial Hall was built in 1876 to serve as a combination school and community hall. Its Stick Style exterior with mansard roof and cupola directly above the front entrance make it distinct from other buildings in the region. Many of the original interior architectural details remain, including an oak staircase with intricate newel post and beadboard, historic light fixtures and a dumbwaiter.

At a time when New Hampshire towns began consolidating their district schools into central schools, millionaire John W. F. Hobbs, who was born in North Hampton and made his fortune in Boston real estate, donated $10,000 for the town to consolidate two of its three schools and build a public hall.

The Center School portion of the building was crowded from the very beginning. Eighty students attended classes on the first floor, which initially was divided into two rooms. Post-World War II, 130 students were enrolled and the same space had been divided into four classrooms. As educational needs changed, domestic science and manual training classes were offered as well as standard curriculum.

On the second floor, a public hall provided versatile space for the community. A raised stage was added in 1899. Popular events included dances, masquerade balls and a whist party with a live goose as the prize. Kitchen facilities and a large banquet room on the third floor made it very much in demand by civic, church and fraternal groups.

North Hampton built a new school in 1949, and the building was then used by small businesses and as a private school. In 1998, the Friends of Centennial Hall purchased the building and have since renovated the first floor and basement, reconstructed the cupola, repaired the original slate roof and more. The building now has several tenants, and the friends group has plans to open the second floor hall and stage. Administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation and is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archaeological resources.

For more information on the National Register program in New Hampshire, please visit nh.gov/nhdhr or contact Peter Michaud at the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources at 603-271-3483.

New Hampshire’s Division of Historical Resources, the “State Historic Preservation Office,” was established in 1974. The historical, archaeological, architectural and cultural resources of New Hampshire are among its most important environmental assets. Historic preservation promotes the use, understanding and conservation of such resources for the education, inspiration, pleasure and enrichment of New Hampshire’s citizens. For more information, visit nh.gov/nhdhr or call 603-271-3483.

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