Lee Historical Society

Historical Buildings

For a map and a driving tour of Lee’s Historical sites visit the Lee Heritage Commission website

The Hale Farmhouse

The Hale Farm house located on Mast Road was built about 1785 by Captain Robert Parker... Click to see more

The Hale Farm house located on Mast Road was built about 1785 by Captain Robert Parker. At this location, Captain Parker and his partners built the privateer “General Sullivan” which was taken apart and hauled by oxen to Newmarket and put back together. The “General Sullivan” was a Sloop-of-War and a very success venture for Captain Parker and his group of investors. Here is more information about the ship: http://www.awiatsea.com/Privateers/G/General%20Sullivan%20New%20Hampshire%20Ship%20%5BDalling%20Manning%5D.html

The first photo shows the Hale Farm main house. The second graphic is of the “Letters of Marque” issued by the Continental Congress in 1778 to the owners of the General Sullivan to “make Captures of British Vessels and Cargoes”. The third photo is of the coin commissioned for the 200th anniversary of Lee in 1966 depicting the “General Sullivan”. Contributed by Scott Bugbee

The South Lee School c. 1880

The South Lee School was built in the 1880's and faced Wadleigh Falls Road (Route 152)...Click to see more.

The South Lee School was built in the 1880’s and faced Wadleigh Falls Road (Route 152) and was located on the northeast corner of Fox Garrison across the road from the Union Meeting House.

This photo is dated 1880 but the documentation we have found says that the school was built in 1888. The back of the photo says that Frank A. Davis was the teacher when the photo was taken.

This was another historical glimpse of Lee. Check back for more old photos of Lee in the coming weeks and months. Please let us know if you want to see more of these kinds of posts.

Note: The building burned down in December 1945. The only remnant of the South Lee School is the stone steps leading up to the front door. They can still be seen on the site. Contributed by Scott Bugbee

The Dump Shack

One of Lee’s original Transfer Stations know lovingly as the “Lee Dump Shack”.

The Hobo Shed

The town built this shed behind the present day town hall as a place to house town tools...Click to see more

The town built this shed behind the present day town hall as a place to house town tools. At the Annual Town meeting in March of 1915 the town took up Warrant Article #5 – ‘To see if the Town will vote to build a building for the road machine and other town implements and make appropriation for same” –“It was voted to empower the Selectmen to build such building as their judgment deemed appropriate the cost not to exceed 300 dollars”. The 1916 Town Report shows this was accomplished for the sum of $245.88.

When the railway came through Lee in 1874,”transients, hobos or tramps” traveling on the railway freight cars would stop in Lee and ask for handouts and a place to sleep. The town took on the responsibility for providing food and lodging for these men. The town’s selectmen paid various townsfolk 25 cents per night to feed them. Town records show $2.50 was spent in 1923 to build tramp bunks and, in 1927, $3.00 to buy mattresses and springs for the “tramp room” in the Tool Shed. The Great Depression created a greater need as the town spent $29.50 for the care of 59 transients in 1934. After the Second World War, the need appears to have lessened because there doesn’t appear to be any people housed after that time.

In 1956, the town spent $1,286.35 on the shed to make it deeper to house the new Adams grader. Through the years, the shed has been used to house police evidence and police cars, book shelves, to shelter the town vault, and more recently as once again a tool and storage shed. Historic items and equipment too large for the Lee Historical Society’s museum continue to be housed in this shed.

In 2018, the building was put on the New Hampshire Register of Historic Places (NHDHR) for being one of the only remaining tramp sheds left in the State. The State called the building “Tool Shed with Tramp Room”. In 2019, the Lee Heritage Commission placed a sign on the building to acknowledge its important place in the Town’s history. (See a photo of the sign below.)

This building was one of two tramp houses located in Lee. The other tramp house was located at Lane’s Crossing near the present day intersection of Calef Highway (Route 125) and Stepping Stones Road. (See a photo on right.) Contributed by Scott Bugbee


The photos above are of the “Hobo Shed” or “Tool Shed with Tramp Room”, the NHDHR sign, and an old map of Lee showing the location of the second tramp house between Wheelwright Pond and the traffic circle.

The Old Union Meeting House

The Old Union Meeting House served as a common church... Click to see more.

The Old Union Meeting House served as a common church for the various religious denominations of the town. It was erected early in the 17th century. Simple in design, it seated at least 250 people on the main floor and in its roomy gallery.

During the early 1900s, the Meeting House was used by the different church groups in Lee for Sunday morning and afternoon services. On week days, it became a town hall for local entertainments and activities.

By 1928, when its usefulness seemed ended, it was torn down.

It was located at the intersection of Wadleigh Falls Road and Fox Garrison in South Lee. Contributed by Scott Bugbee

Harvey’s Mill in South Lee


Harvey’s Mill in South Lee was built in the mid 18th century. Originally, it was called Emerson’s Mill and was a grist mill until about 1880. After then, it was a shingle, lath, clapboard, and sawmill and continued operations until its timber dam was washed out in the flood of 1936 or the Hurricane of 1938. The mill was located on the North River on the Nottingham – Lee town line near the current Route 152.

 The Poor Farm

The idea of a poor farm was a product of the times... Click to see more.

The idea of a poor farm was a product of the times. Poor farms were thought to be the answer to providing relief to the poor in the 1830s. Lee created a committee to study the idea in 1832 and decided on moving forward with the implementation in 1836. Samuel Jones sold this 112-acre farm to the Town of Lee for $2,000.00 on October 19, 1837. The farm was opened in late 1837 or early 1838 with John S. Walker as overseer of the poor. The poor farm was little more than a prison because the overseer was authorized to make sure none of the town paupers were to “abscond” from the premises. The poor were provided for with tea, corn, flour, beef, pork, salt, peas, oats, potatoes, molasses, and rice according to town records. But they had to work for their keep. The town records show the poor farm produced hay, potatoes, turnips, cheese, soap, cider, beans, oats, barley, lard, and flour.
The town records do not give information about the number of people at the poor farm but from inventories taken it would appear that there were from 7-13 people at any one time. The Lee poor farm continued until after the Civil War when Strafford County started its own almshouse. The Town of Lee sold the farm on March 11, 1878 to Daniel Smith for $1,970.00. The Lee Poor Farm was an experiment that turned out to be costly and unsustainable for the Town.
Today, the property that was the Lee poor farm is still in existence and it located on Wednesday Hill Road. It is currently the Velvet Pastures Elk Ranch. The right-hand photo below is of the farm in 1966. The left-hand photo was taken in 2018.

This article was based on the book published by Timothy Dodge in 2012 called “Poor Relief in Durham, Lee and Madbury New Hampshire 1732-1891”.  Contributed by Scott Bugbee.

The Blacksmith Shop on “The Turnpike”

In the late 19th century blacksmithing was a very important trade to a town and Town of Lee was no different. Located on the “turnpike” – Route 4, now called Sherburne Road, was a blacksmith shop owned by James Buzzell. His shop was on the north side of the road almost at the Durham-Lee town line. Mr. Buzzell was born in August of 1842 and married Martha Tuttle around 1877. He ran the blacksmith shop for many years. Contributed by Scott Bugbee

Wadleigh Falls c. 1880

The first recorded settlement of the area that would become the Town of Lee ...Click for More

The first recorded settlement of the area that would become the Town of Lee occurred at Wadleigh Falls. There were many factories and businesses located there over the years as well as a post office at one time. With the dam powering many of the businesses the area grew and was an important part of the town. This photo from about 1880 shows the Wadleigh Falls area looking toward Newmarket. As you can see lots of people turned out for the photo. We know the names of many of those in the photo. From the left of the photo, Guy Glidden and Blanche Glidden, whose family members would start the Glidden Paint Company, are just a few of people identified. Contributed by Scott Bugbee

The Intersection of Routes 125 and 152 in the Early 20th Century

Route 125 was the original track bed for the railroad... (Click for more)

Route 125 was the original track bed for the railroad.The South Lee Train Station was there in the late 19th century and the early 20th century.The white building on the right is still there as is the house on the right. The house is currently the Plumer Bed & Breakfast. The building in the middle center of the photo was the train station and the building on the near left was the milk house. Contributed by Scott Bugbee