To The Daily Sun,
We knew her as Aunt Abbie.
Growing up on Dewey Street in the 1940s, the Jewett Homestead was part of our neighborhood and the home was always open and welcoming to children. Perhaps Aunt Abbie's training as an art teacher led to that. We were treated to "tea" and allowed to play (inspect) antique dolls with fragile clothing and porcelain faces and received personal attention as visitors.
Mr. Austin, Abbie's husband , occupied an office off the main entry kitchen where he kept a large desk and a very visible "spitoon" which was well used. He also ran a storage business in the large attached barn. We were allowed to play there. The stalls were being used for storage but there were still buggies and remnants of what had once been a stable. My brothers and I were allowed to climb ladders in the three story barn and even climbed to the cupola at the very top for a marvelous view of the area where we lived.
The house occupied a corner lot partly fronting on Dewey Street where a back lawn led to a magnificent garden tended by Mr. Austin in his straw hat. He always made me think of Mr. McGregor of "Peter Rabbit" fame. The garden would today be the envy of any gardener, filled with as many flowers as produce.
Sadly the property was divided, and an apartment building allowed to occupy the space which was adjacent to the home. Later the barn was removed but thankfully has been restored and kept. I have always imagined what the property must have been like at the turn of the 19th century with land leading down to the Jewett Brook and in another direction to encompass all the land which is now occupied by the Laconia High School.
Is it any wonder that I found your article by Mike Mortensen (Nov. 8) regarding the current restoration of the home so nostalgic? I recognize the room where Josh Youssef is standing. He and his family are to be commended for recognizing the historical significance of this property and I hope the city does as well. With the recent loss of a property we all admired it is a pleasure to read something so positive. I thank Mr. Youssef for his time and investment and I hope to drive by the house for a few more years with renewed enjoyment of its current ownership.
Carolyn Sanborn (nee Clark)
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