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HIGHLIGHTS Woodman House

  • House:
    Built 1675, NH's oldest intact garrison house
  • Collections:
    Furniture, colonial items, kitchen, child room, spinning wheels, cooking fireplace, Dover history display
  • Open:
    Wednesday to Sunday, except holidays, 12:30-4:30 pm Saturdays & Sundays only December through January Closed February 1 through March 31
  • Admission:
    (included in tour of Woodman Institute)
    $3 adults, $2 seniors (65+), $1 students 14-18, children & school tours free. Reservations required for 10 or more


Garrison House cover The William Damm Garrison may be seen on the campus of the Woodman Institute in Dover, NH along with the Hale House, and visited as part of that tour. This historical sketch is excerpted from the speech given at the dedication of the Institute in 1916. The garrison was moved to its current at that time and covered with a protective wooden structure.

Read about the loss of other Dover garrisons in the Cocheco Massacre

William Damm was born 14 October, 1653; he was the second son of Deacon John Damm, whose residence was on Dover Neck a few rods southwest of the present marked site of the second meeting house. In i642 the land on the west side of Back River was divided, by the town, into twenty-four twenty-acre lots forty rods in width on the river bank, and extending back eighty rods into the wilderness. The town gave these lots to various distinguished citizens of the Neck; John Damm received one of the lots, No. 11, and later purchased others; in 1675 he was the owner of lots 11, 12, and 13, and had purchased land in the rear of all of these lots.

When his son William was twenty-two years old, or thereabouts, he gave him this land and helped him build this garrison, or rather a house which could be garrisoned by enclosing a large yard around it with a high stockade of logs, placed upright in the ground. Not long after that William Damm married Martha Nute, daughter of James Nute, who owned and lived on the lot next south of Damm's land. The Nute family has lived on that farm continuously to the present time (note, this account was written in 1916).

William Damm resided in this house till his death in 1718. His son William Damm inherited the farm, and resided in the house till 1740. At his death it came into possession of his sister Leah Damm, who had married Samuel Hayes. Samuel and Leah kept house there from 1740 to 1770. It then passed into possession of their granddaughter, Leah Nute, who married Joseph Drew in 1771. They commenced housekeeping there and that was their home to the end of their lives, which were long. In 1810, Joseph Drew built the mansion house in which Mrs. Rounds now lives; his son William Plaisted Drew was then 16 years old, and, when his parents passed on, he inherited the garrison and the new house, which is the finest dwelling in the Back River district, and was beautifully located on a farm that is one of the best in Dover.

William Plaisted Drew, who was born in 1794, died in 1868. The farm and houses then passed to his son Edwin Plaisted Drew, who had married, and had a son and a daughter. Mr. Drew and family resided there till 1883, when it came into the possession of Mr. Bryant Peavey, who gave it to his daughter, Ellen S. Peavey, wife of Mr. Holmes B. Rounds. Mr. and Mrs. Rounds have resided there to the present time, (that is, 1916) thirty-three years. So the garrison was in possession of William Damm and his family about ninety-five years; in possession of the Drew family 112, and in possession of Mrs. Rounds 33 years; a total of 240.

As the house had been in possession of the Drew family more than a century it came to be called the "Drew garrison "; everybody had forgotten, or never knew, that any other family had owned it; nobody knew when it was built, or who built it. As Mrs. Rounds has owned it a third of a century it would be just as proper to call it the "Rounds garrison," as to call it the "Drew garrison," hence the original and proper name has been restored to it, in its new home -- William Damm Garrison.

To Mrs. Ellen Rounds belongs the credit and the honor of restoring and preserving this very interesting, historic house -- the oldest house in Dover. In it have been visitors who were among the first settlers on Dover Neck, 283 years ago, the emigrant ancestors of quite a number of persons present here today. So, in a way, it takes us back to the very beginning of the settlement on Dover Neck. Mrs. Rounds not only kept the house from going to ruin but, as the years went by, she collected valuable historic artifacts and has arranged them in the garrison for exhibition; they are there now, in number more than 800.

In 1915, Col. Daniel Hall had an interview with Mrs. Rounds and broached the matter of having the garrison and its contents removed to the place where it now. The proposition proved to be acceptable to her; in due time she made a formal gift of it to the Woodman Institute, subject to certain conditions that were readily agreed to by the Trustees of the Institute. Then Daniel Chesley was entrusted with the task of removing the house to its new home; it took him one week; he was fortunate in having fine weather all the time the work was going on. It was moved on rolls, and one horse did the hauling.

From a speech by John Scales
Delivered July 16, 1916 at the
Dedication of the Woodman Institute, Dover, NH

Click here for more Seacoast houses
Read Brewster's article on garrisons

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main room Use the online form below to apply for membership and will send your statement to you via postal mail. You may also print this form and send checks directly to the address below.

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PO Box 146
Dover, NH 03821-0146

The Woodman House building is nearly 200 years old, and the Institute was formed in 1916. And the trust has not kept pace with the repairs needed. Exterior masonry, roofs, window glazing and electrical work are just a few of the areas in immediate need of repair. You can help keep these treasures alive by becoming a member today.


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Content © 1999 Woodman Institute
Design © 1999
(page design and original content)
Photos © 1999 Thom Hindle

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