Friday, January 22, 2010
Coach Stop Restaurant and Tavern
There is a large colonial style restaurant at The Crossroads in Londonderry. It was built in 1810 by a Dr. Watson, with 12 rooms and 9 fireplaces. It was a building always used for public entertainment and as a restaurant, starting as a stagecoach stop on both lines from Boston to Concord, and from Nashua to Exeter. We live nearby, and we were recently surprised to see a new sign and a new name go up on the building.
For a while this place was also known as Shepard Tavern after a distant relation to Astronaut Alan Shepard. C. B. Knowles, another owner of the building charged $1.50 per day for meals and lodging. The Plummer’s Tavern, as it was later known, was operated by John and Anne Griffin for five years. When we moved to Londonderry more than 25 years ago, it was known as the William Gregg House, even though the Revolutionary War Colonel Gregg never lived here. In 1990 it had become the Homestead Restaurant, owned by the McDonough Family, who also own the Homestead Restaurant in Bristol, and Fratello’s Italian restaurant in the Manchester Millyard. In 2010, Steve McDonough took sole ownership of the restaurant now known as the “Coach Stop Restaurant and Tavern”, which is a name that echoes its origins as a colonial public house. The Londonderry planning board recently gave him permission to park a full sized coach on the lawn in front of the restaurant!
Mammoth Road was built in 1831. It carried three lines of daily stage coaches, and a large number of cargo and passenger wagons every year. The markets in Lowell and Boston were mostly supplied from this road. The Great Mammoth Road name came from the large amount of vehicles, drawing traffic away from all other roads. This was significantly changed when the Concord and Nashua Railroad opened in 1838, but the name Mammoth Road stuck. It is still the main north-south road in Londonderry.
Route 102 was known as “Old Dunstable” Road, which was the old name for Nashua. Today it is also known as Nashua Road. It was the main road from Nashua east to Exeter and the seacoast. Remember that Exeter was one of our first state capitals (during the Revolution when the provincial records were seized from the Royal Governor in Portsmouth). The crossroads of these two roads was the perfect place for a coach stop. Horses were exchanged here, as well as the mail, rooms, drinks and libations for the travelers. Route 102 is the main east-west road in Londonderry and Derry.
Although the building has changed hands many times, and it’s name, too, it still remains a colonial style house, serving meals and refreshments to the public. There is entertainment upstairs in the lounge. Marks from the old circular bar can still be seen on the wide pine flooring in the northwest room of the first floor. The waitresses will still point out the “Parson’s Cupboard” above the fireplace where the best liquors were stored. The wait staff even says that there is a ghost that appears occasionally on the staircase and in the room above the tavern room. A ghost seems to be de rigueur for New England colonial style restaurants. Even with a new name, let’s hope the ghost stayed!
For more information:
“The History of Rockingham County, New Hampshire” by Charles A. Hazlett, Richmond Arnold Publishing Company, Chicago, 1915
“Londonderry, New Hampshire Vital Records, 1722 – 1910” by Daniel Gage Annis, Manchester, New York, 1914
“The History of Londonderry: Comprising the Towns of Derry and Londonderry, New Hampshire” by Rev. Edward L. Parker, Perkins and Whipple, 1851
The Coach Stop Restaurant and Tavern website at www.coachstopnh.com
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo