Part 2 on our Cobbler Shop Journey!
Since it's arrival back in Dunbarton after 50 years in Goffstown, the c1850 Cobbler Shop (the last of its kind) has been busy. First order of
After volunteers removed 150+ years worth of critter nests, food stashes and skeletons from the walls and soffits, J. P.
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Traveling home was a far grander trip for the Dunbarton Cobbler Shop than the last of it’s three moves, to South Mast Street, Goffstown, in 1954. Accompanied by a classic 1968 Chevelle Malibu Police Car driven by Auxillary Office Lenny LaMarca, the precious cargo was given a hero’s return accompanied by Dunbarton Selectman Les Hammond and Bow resident Laura Tucker, both descendents of Thomas Sylvester Wilson, the original owner.
Dating back to before 1850, the Cobbler Shop was one of twenty-six known cobblers in the Dunbarton area. It is thought that Wilson was able to maintain his business after the birth of the industrial shoe industry because he also owned a tannery, which supplied him with an easy source of leather.
The late Bud Noyes, renowned Dunbarton historian, was working on his book, “Where Settler’s Feet Have Trod” when he discovered the shop out in Goffstown, at the home of Joan O’Connor and Robert Carberry. The structure is quite solid, considering it’s age, and contains many of the original features, including wide-plank floors and horsehair plaster. One of the main timbers was taken from a much older mortise and tenon structure and reused, so the precise date of the building remains to be determined. An exciting discovery was the handwriting on the walls, which will be given closer inspection during the restoration project. The Dunbarton Historic Awareness Committee spent the summer carefully detaching the building from another structure, and preparing it for the return to Dunbarton. Carl Moorehead, Excavation Innovations and Dan Vankalken, Conifer Hill NH Landscaping, donated their valuable equipment and skills, and other volunteers include Roger Gagne, Barbara Torre, Dan Fradette, Andy and Donna Dunn, Bob Carberry, Joan O’Conner, Larry Petersen, and Jan & Janice Vandebogart. Although Noyes was not present at the big move, he was symbolically represented by his shoes, hanging from an antique nail on the rear wall of the structure, accompanying home his last, great historical find.
A glass negative was located that dated to 1865, showing the Cobbler Shop on it’s original site with a full view of the entire homestead and the Wilson family. “The detail is amazing,” says Dunn, Project Coordinator. “You can see cats on the stone wall, and the lightening rod on the roof of the farmhouse. We hope to reproduce it for the schools, so they can use it as a teaching tool for the younger kids. There’s so much in the photo, and so much more to this story!”
Once the building is restored, it will be moved to the Dunbarton Historical Society Museum, situated along the soon-to-be John Stark Scenic Byway. The Historic Society welcomes all volunteers who would like to participate in this project, and they are also looking for period tools, equipment and supplies to outfit the restored shop. An 1800’s cobbler bench has already been secured, along with a trove of Dunbarton memorabilia from the Tucker family, including the only known photos of the original shop. All donations will be professionally appraised for tax-deductible value by antiques dealer Mike Malloy. If you would like to send a financial donation, please mail your tax-deductible check payable to “Cobbler Shop Restoration Project” to 1011 School Street, Dunbarton NH 03046. History is alive in Dunbarton!