Tucker Mountain Road History Provides Background on Landmarks

Home to former scenic view "The Birches"

By Ed Hiller
This grove of birches on Tucker Mountain Road in East Andover, known as The Birches, no longer exists, but was a popular scenic view in its time. Donna Baker-Hartwell shared this photo from her archives.

Note: This is a third companion article to the extensive set of articles on East Andover road history written by Rita Norander.

In 1788 the Andover Selectmen formally laid out a road two rods (33 feet) wide in East Andover village heading north on the line between lots 33 and 35 in the third range of lots in the original Andover survey.  This led from the Highland Lake Inn to the former Andover Poor Farm, now the Cox family residence.  


The Selectmen later extended the road up the slope of Tucker Mountain to the present residence of the Pine family and on to connect with Old College Road.  This provided a route from East Andover over the pass of Tucker Mountain into neighboring Hill.

The Highland Lake Inn was earlier known as “The Halcyon,” its name coming from the nearby island in Highland Lake.  Deacon Samuel Blake Jr., a veteran of the 1745 siege of Louisburg in Nova Scotia, was one of the original 81 grantees when the town was granted in 1751.  He settled here in 1767 and built the second two-story house in Andover (according to Eastman’s town history.)

This place until recently consisted of 73 acres and extended north about three-quarters of a mile along the east side of the road.  In 1987 most of the farmland was separated off to make a residential subdivision, leaving the inn with three surrounding acres as a separate tract.  This created 10 lots of three to six acres each.  A common conservation tract of 21 acres was created along the back of these lots.

Further along the road on the west side is the former Andover Poor Farm.  Samuel Fuller built the present dwelling there in 1802   In 1830 the Town of Andover purchased this farm of about 105 acres from him as a means to provide physical and financial support for the town’s needy.  The Town operated this Poor Farm for 38 years, terminating in 1868 when Merrimack County established the County Poor Farm in North Boscawen.

This place was also known as the Great Elm Farm.  Tradition gives that Mrs. Samuel Fuller, whose home was here before it was the Poor Farm, upon returning from a horseback ride to New Chester, now Hill, set her switch into the ground, wherein it took root and grew into a remarkable tree.  It came to be over 12 feet in circumference, with wide spreading branches forming a nearly perfect circle 80 feet in diameter.  Ralph Chaffee noted that this tree was sometimes called the Riding Whip Elm.  


Although the great tree succumbed years ago to old age, the sizable stump was still to be seen in the front yard in recent years.  The Cox family currently resides there.

Past the Poor Farm, the road winds up to the Tucker Mountain district.  This is another old driftway for moving cattle up to the summer pastures.  


At the point where the road started up there was, in the early 1900s,  a well-known scenic view.  This was “The Birches”, a grove of white birches that was the subject of many photographs and postcards.

About half a mile up the mountain, the road has its connection to Valley Road at what has been known as the Weare Bridge, named for an early grantor.  This is a deep ravine where the so-called Weare Bridge Brook crosses the road.  Presently there is a culvert at this location. 

Above Weare Bridge on the east side of the road was “The Old Mountain Home.”  This was one of the farms that catered to summer boarders in the early 1900s.  Frank Hersey owned it then.  He was followed by his two unmarried daughters, May and Edith Hersey.  The buildings burned in 1934, so no trace remains of the old buildings.  The Agostino family is the present owner.

Opposite, on the west side of the road, is a place known in recent times as the Lantern House.   In the early 1800s this was the home of William Tucker Jr, son of William Tucker, the first settler in the area.

In 1858 William Tucker transferred ownership of his farm to his son Frank Tucker with a very detailed agreement.  Among the many specifications was that the son
stock, cultivate and improve said farm in a husband-like manner
deliver to me one-half of all the produce and increase of said farm
keep a good and suitable carriage for use and furnish the same to me as often as I may desire
provide suitable wood suitably prepared for the fire 

The place was given its name of Lantern House by the children of Frank and Madeline Baker, who bought it in 1963.  At that time there was no electricity above the Cox place, so the farm made do with kerosene lamps, a gas refrigerator, and a gravity-fed well.  The Baker family used this place as a summer residence for many years.  The Shedd family is the present owner.

Further up on the east side of the road is the Tucker Mountain Schoolhouse.  Much has been written about this lovely historic one-room schoolhouse.  It remains much as is was from its beginning in 1837 when it was built by Benjamin Tucker, son of William Tucker, the original settler in this area.  The land was donated by Benjamin’s brother William.  


The schoolhouse is known as the “Little Red Schoolhouse” and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   This school operated until 1894 when it was closed due to a dwindling student population.  


Ownership reverted to the heirs of William Tucker.  It remained in that family until 1972, when Frank and Madelyn Baker acquired it.  They donated it to the Andover Historical Society in 2004.  It is open for visitors on a regular schedule during the summer months.

Pieters Road at the school house leads east to a farm known as the Cutting Greeley place, or the Doctor Mowe place.   It was originally settled by Deacon William True who built the house about 1787.  Cutting Greeley lived there for nearly 50 years in the 1800s.  


Around the beginning of the 20th century an eccentric “Dr. “ James Mowe lived there.  He compounded and peddled patent medicines on foot around Andover.  This is now the summer place of the Pieters family.

On the west side of Tucker Mountain Road, across from the schoolhouse, is the farmstead of William Tucker, the first settler in the area, who came in 1794.  At the beginning of the 1900s it was known as “Birchmont” and hosted summer boarders, as did other farms in the area.  It was also known as the Chandler farm.  All the buildings burned in 1901.  Very impressive and extensive granite foundations of the residence and barns still remain.  This property now contains 233 acres.

Directly across from the schoolhouse on the west side of the road and at the edge of the Tucker farm was the Tucker Family Cemetery.  Sometime after 1909 this cemetery was closed and all the graves were moved down to the East Andover Church Cemetery.  All traces of this small family cemetery are now gone.

The meadow above the schoolhouse on the east side of the road was part of the farm settled by William True in 1787.   Enoch Sceva (Seavey) lived there in the mid 1850s. Alonzo Greeley, son of Cutting Greeley, was there in the late 1800s.  Perley and Elsie Henderson were living there from 1945 to 1964.  In the 1970s George Roshon built a modern house.  The previous house was then being used as a chicken coop and was later torn down.   This is presently the home of the Harvey Pine family. 

Beyond the Pine place, the Tucker Mountain Road becomes Class VI, not maintained and subject to gates and bars.   It curves west to terminate at Old College Road which continues on over the shoulder of Tucker Mountain into Hill.