History of The Tavern at Rockingham
As you dine with us this evening, it may be of interest to you that this building was erected during the administration of President John Adams, circa 1790.
Rockingham was at one time called the “Village of Seven Taverns”, and this tavern was located on the busy new “Post Road” (1795). Young Enos Lovell built the main structure, perhaps at first for his growing family, later as a tavern, and it was a successful endeavor for him. The tavern furnished food, shelter and conviviality to the public arriving by stagecoach.
This tavern has seven fireplaces. The fireplace in our back dining room has pothooks and a built-in oven at one side, as the room once served as the kitchen. The “keeping room” as it was called, undoubtedly was a busy place with travelers, Enos, his wife and nine children.
In 1794 Enos built a two-story brick home for his family in Grafton, Vermont. Soon after, Enos converted the house into what is now known as the Grafton Tavern. In turn, Enos then sold this tavern and 1,316 acres to Nathaniel Clark for the sum of $1,000.
The barn at the end of the parking lot was built during this time, as was the kitchen ell. Unfortunately, the ell was built over Enos’ very potent underground stream. To this day we are reminded each spring of this oversight with a flooded cellar.
However, it was not too many years later that the Lovell family reappeared at the tavern. Leverett T. Lovell was born here in 1841. As Bellows Falls became a major transportation, commercial and manufacturing center in New England, Leverett would become a major figure in the Bellows Falls hey-day.
In 1910, Leverett managed to buy back each of the parcels of the entire farm that had once belonged to his grandfather, Enos Lovell. The farm would become a lively center of family activity with lots of children, grandchildren and “Morgan Horses”.
The area across the street became a large horse-racing track. For several decades “Lovell Park” attracted several thousand people on Sunday for “sulky” racing. The farm itself was quite renown for Morgan horses as well.
It is probable that the depression brought an end to that era. A large exodus of young people during this time from Vermont to major manufacturing centers left the tavern, race track and farm to older members of the family. Flora Lovell Hoezell was the last descendant of the Lovell clan to live here, where she died in 1977.
The Marston Family purchased the tavern in 1985. They turned it back to a working tavern in 1986 and are very proud to continue the tradition that is The Tavern at Rockingham.