Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, known as "The Oldest Summer Resort in America", achieved this distinction in 1766. This was when John Wentworth, having been appointed Royal Governor of New Hampshire, by King George of England, decided to build a vacation retreat here. This "plantation", as he referred to it back then, was designed and built as a get-a-way from his duties in Portsmouth, the capital of New Hampshire during that period of time, an area which covered New Hampshire and present day Vermont.
An access road to his summer "plantation" was assigned to be built for him from Portsmouth to Wolfeboro, and is still in existence today. Its name is still known as "The Governor John Wentworth Highway".
Part of this highway follows the Abenaki Trail as the Abenaki Native American tribe was prevalent in this area for hundreds of years before the arrival of Governor Wentworth. As a testament to these Native Americans, who lived here, built their dwellings, hunted this area, grew their crops and survived the harsh winters, SUMMERHAWK honors their traditions and beliefs by reflecting a Native American motif in its name, cottage decor, sign and accoutrements.
At the start of the American Revolution, around 1774, Governor Wentworth, a Tory, who dearly loved his plantation here, the lake and the whole Wolfeboro area, was forced to leave his Governorship and his plantation and return to England. (He eventually was reassigned by King George as the Governor of Nova Scotia.)
SUMMERHAWK is located at "ground zero" of "The Oldest Summer Resort in America", situated alongside The Governor John Wentworth Highway and built on the property that formerly belonged to the Governor. Wentworth Lake, which was originally nothing more than a small pond during the Governor's reign here, ultimately became the large lake it is today, due to a dam that was built back in the early 1900's. Today, along with all the other summer activities, it is a popular fishing site for enthusiasts and is stocked with Rainbow Trout, Small and Large Mouth Bass along with an assortment of other familiar lake fish such as Pike and Catfish.
SUMMERHAWK land was acquired and the main cottage built in 1930 along with an unattached small garage, just the right size to house a Model A Ford. After a few years, this garage transitioned into a boat house. Then, in the 1960's, it was relocated to its present site at the end of SUMMERHAWK property and transformed into a small rustic camp with an added porch, its own beach, and bathing accommodations in the lake!
In 2009 it underwent a total renovation receiving a faux slate roof, cedar shingle siding, and a brand spanking new interior, this time, transforming it into what we now call DREAM CATCHER - a charming storybook cottage, complete with an insulated, glassed in porch overlooking the lake.
Soon after the main house and garage was built in 1930, the small Wolfeboro Center Railroad Depot, named "Fernald Station", had dropped into disuse. The original owners of Summerhawk, at that time, made arrangements to have the building transported here, onto SUMMERHAWK property and it was deposited near the edge of the lake, to one side of the main cottage.
The owners had it furnished with a small wood stove and two bunks. They used it as a ski hut when they came up in wintertime from the flatlands, the main cottage having been shut down during the cold season. The old Fernald Depot was transformed into a ski hut with a front porch, an addition which brought it directly to the edge of the lake, and it became a part of the SUMMERHAWK transitioning complex. In 1960, it was modified again with an added bunk room with four twin sized bunk beds, a kitchen and a room for a toilet at the back. In the 1980's a shower was installed, as prior to that, as in the transformed Model A Ford garage, tenants bathed in the lake, a more acceptable and fun practice at the time.
Today, the former depot (presently, the center portion of the cottage as outlined in the picture above), with its additions, is referred to as WHISPERING WATERS. We have determined from old, dated graffiti carved into the walls of the original Fernald Depot, that this portion of the cottage dates back to at least the 1870’s. During its restoration, the old clapboards were removed and underneath we discovered very old barn board. We have no proof, but the possibility exists that this building, before it became the old Fernald Depot, was originally built as one of the storage out buildings on the John Wentworth plantation.
The old railroad tracks that went past the original depot still pass through the woods, a few hundred yards behind the cottages. At the new Fernald station house, presently located at the original site of the old Fernald depot, on occasion, offer rides on several small, four seater, track maintenance railroad cars that run those same tracks, still there from days of old. However, they are now for their owners' use and pleasure. These cars are privately owned, maintained in authentic originality, and used by the Cotton Valley Rail Trail Club, an Association for Railway Motor Car owners, and for their enjoyment in today's reality.
However, once a year, the club offers free rides for tourists and locals in the area. The location of the old train tracks, some of which are still there, has evolved into a delightful hiking and biking path that begins at the Fernald Station and meanders all the way into downtown Wolfeboro, a distance of three miles, a delightful challenge for those in shape enough to give it a try. In the opposite direction from the station, the tracks go another 12 miles north to Route 16, and other than being used for occasional rides by the Trail Club, are suitable for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.
Just as a footnote; today, because of environmental concerns, town regulations and building codes, there cannot be any structures, of any kind, built or located as close to the lake as the cottages here at SUMMERHAWK. Our cottages proximity to the water was established a long time ago, long before the present restrictions were put in place, so that our guests can still enjoy the privilege and pleasure of residing on the very edge of Lake Wentworth.