Published DateHILL — No name is more famous nor person more revered in this small town than Jenny D. Blake, for whom the town's elementary school is named.
A legendary teaching-principal who taught school for 50 years until she retired in 1945, Blake started her teaching career at the age of 17 in the small district schoolhouse on Murray Hill Road that she had attended as a child.
She later taught in the Hill Village School in Old Hill Village, where she and her husband, Bert lived after their marriage in 1899. In 1909 a new school was built not far from where they lived and she continued to teach there until the village was relocated in 1941 to accommodate the the construction of the Franklin Falls Dam, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project.
The school which was built in the new village was named in her honor and the present school, which has been located in the former town hall since 2001, still bears her name.
But it's the not the only building in town which is known by her name.
There's a residence on New Chester Road known by long-time residents as the Jennie D. Blake House and it's the same home that Blake and her husband inhabited in Old Hill Village, one of 14 homes which was relocated to higher ground using railroad winches and teams of horses.
Current owners of the Victorian style home are Steve and Elaine Earle, who moved to Hill from Northfield in 1984 and got to see in their first year there why Hill had been relocated.
''There was record high water and you could go down into Old Hill Village and see just the tops of some 50-foot high trees,'' said Steve.
He says that the house, which has many Victorian features, including a long front porch and several stained-glass windows, was extremely well-built with high-quality wood work and even has panel doors, which could be used to separate the rooms, recessed in the walls between the rooms.
''They used horses to pull it up here and put it on the brick foundation they had already built. They were very ambitious and determined,'' said Steve, who said that townspeople had formed an association to manage the transition and had built a new school and town hall along with 30 houses by the time the move took place in 1941.
''It was the first planned community in New Hampshire,'' says Steve, who says that he and his wife spent a lot of time riding horses through the Old Hill Village area from 1984 through 1999 and got very familiar with its old landmarks.
''They razed all of the old homes that weren't moved so there were only cellar holes left. But the roads and sidewalks were still visible and the fields were still being hayed so that everything wasn't overgrown.''
Steve recalls that Leon King, who offered Western Trail rides from an area near Profile Falls, used to mow the fields under an arrangement he had with the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the recreation area.
In addition to the home there is a building now used as a garage and workshop which was also moved from Old Hill Village and is next to the Earles' house.
He says that the building was originally used as a butcher shop and slaughterhouse and had a U-ring in its ceiling which was used to hoist the slaughtered animal.
One window was used for ice blocks which were deposited at the back of the cold room where the carcasses were stored before being cut up and a section of the building still has the shelves which were used for display of items offered for sale.
''We're the fifth family that we know of to own this house,'' says Elaine, who says that other families included the Blakes, the Wadleighs, the Henry's and the Wallaces.
The Earles were both nurses and worked at the Laconia State School in the 1980s. He later worked for 10 years at Freudenberg-NOK in Laconia and she finished her working career at the New Hampshire Soldiers Home in Tilton.
''We worked hard to get what we wanted and we found it here,'' says Steve, who says that he continues to remain active as a nurse by helping out at blood drives in the area.
Steve and Elaine Earle live in what is known locally as the Jennie D. Blake home in Hill, one of 14 homes which were relocated from Old Hill Village when a flood control dam was built in Franklin in 1941 to control the spring runoff in the Pemigewasset River. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)