Who Moved the Haley House at Smuttynose?
  • Print
Written by SeacoastNH Archive

Smuttynose_LabelSeacoastNH.com Presents  
Historic Portsmouth #385

You may have to look twice to see that this is the same house that appears on the label of Shoals Pale Ale. There were four windows instead of two up front  and a dilapidated porch when this photo was taken at Smuttynose Island at the Isles of Shoals in the late 1800s. Having mowed this lawn often I know every rock and bush. (Continued below)

 

 

And having spent a total of about three months living inside the Haley House over the past dozen years, I can assure you it’s the same building. It was near extinction when it was restored in the 1990s by carpenter John MacKenzie. This photo confirms what many have wondered -- that the house was picked up and moved a few yards further up the hill at some point. Archaeologist Nathan Hamilton, who has mapped every inch of the island near Haley’s Cove, says he believes the 1770s-era house was moved some time in the 1870s. That’s when the Oceanic Hotel was built on Star Island across Gosport Harbor. That’s also when owners of the Mid-Ocean House, an earlier hotel located on Smuttynose, built their porch. At that point the Haley House blocked the view of the large new Oceanic from the Mid-Ocean House. Hamilton suggests that the smaller house was moved in order to create an unobstructed view from the Smuttynose hotel. As further evidence, he points out, the owners paved the walkway to the relocated Haley House with periwinkle shells at the same time. “Those shells were coming to the island [carried by ships] just about 1870,” Hamilton says, “and they’re not there before 1860.” As further evidence, Hamilton points to “a tremendous cluster of ceramics” uncovered in his ongoing archaeological digs. Those artifacts, plus the outline of an early stone foundation, indicate that the house was in the position seen here from at least 1760 to 1810. Worn granite steps and a cluster of rose bushes still stand where the front of the Haley House used to be. This move also explains why the infamous Hontvet House, site of the 1873 ax murders, is visible next to the Haley House in some photos, and not visible in others. Both the Hontvet and the Mid-Ocean House burned down and only their foundations remain on the island. (Courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum)

385_Haley_House

Copy text (c) SeacoastNH.com

READ MORE on Haley's Island