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Tilton Historical Society presents Historic House plaques to 2020 recipients

January 13, 2021
TILTON — Three new recipients will be selected in historic downtown Tilton each year. The plaques show a particular building's date of construction or business, and its historic name. The three chosen for 2020 are Bryant & Lawrence Hardware, Ideal Manufacturing/Achber's Department Store and the Loverin Block.

Downtown Tilton is already on the National Register of Historic Places, but the Society wanted to visually mark buildings so that people walking by, could get an idea of when they were originally built and what they were used for.

"It give's our downtown an identity," says John Ciriello, Chairman for the Tilton Historical Society. "We hope to lead historic tours downtown once things with the pandemic lessen. There's a lot of history in Tilton and it is very unique."

The first plaque recipient, Bryant & Lawrence Hardware, is a building that seems frozen in time. Anyone who's ever entered the store, is instantly transported back 100 years with the tin ceilings and old worn wood floors found inside. The owner, Bill Lawrence, was very happy to accept the plaque for his store and boasts a wonderful display of old photos and stories for visitors to see by his register. His store has been in his family for generations and has existed since at least 1859, when it was known as Philbrick and Hill. The business has had its current name since 1921, reflecting then-new owners Maurice Bryant and Oakes Lawrence, Bill's grandfather.

The second recipient is Ideal Manufacturing/Achber's Department Store. The owner, Ken Barrett, has operated an auction house there until just recently. Although the build date for the mill is unknown, there was a very successful business that operated there for about 25 years called Ideal Manufacturing in 1899. They made ladies "wrappers" (or dresses) from the late 1800's to early 1920's. In more recent years, Tiltonians may recall Achber's Department store which was established in 1922, and sold clothing and shoes. However, the most interesting use found, was from the 1884 Tilton aerial map. It identifies the building with only the description of "Skating Rink" on it! It turns out that indoor roller skating was a "thing" back in the Victorian days. Rinks were places for young men and women to meet socially at a time when it was strictly frowned upon to mingle without a chaperone.

The third recipient was the Loverin Block. The building was built in 1904 after a devastating fire occurred at the site a year before. The Loverin Hotel fire started in the early morning hours of July 21, 1903 at 3 a.m. It started in the kitchen but quickly spread upward. If it wasn't for the quick action of the landlord's wife, Mrs. Jordan, many lives would have been lost that night. She rushed up to the attic to wake up the employees of the hotel first and then proceeded down two more floors waking all of the guests along the way. The 50 room hotel was at full capacity that night. There was a livery stable connected to the hotel, but unfortunately, many horses refused to be led through the flames to safety, and despite desperate attempts by their handlers, 17 perished. The fire burned with such intensity, that it blistered the paint on the buildings across from it on Main Street. It cracked the glass on windows of houses around it and embers ignited the roof tops of the Episcopal and Congregational churches. Tilton Town Hall's windows shattered from the heat and it's roof caught fire. The city of Franklin's "steamer" named "Daniel Webster" arrived and was able to shoot water from the river, up to town hall's roof and thus saved the building. The following year, a brick structure was built on the site with apartments above and store fronts below and named the Loverin Block. Owners Melanie Muehlen Paskavitch with daughter Sophie, and Donna Vacca Muehlen did a wonderful job restoring the interior apartments and exterior facade this summer. They were careful to keep as much of the original features as possible and the building has great historic character due to their efforts.

The Tilton Historical Society looks forward to selecting the 2021 plaque recipients and invites people to join their Facebook page. Lots of great historical information and photos are available there and announcements are posted about various activities.

Congratulations to the 2020 Historic House Plaque recipients!

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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