Built around 1762, the Wyman Tavern has long been regarded as one of the oldest and most historic buildings in Cheshire County. It was built for soldier, settler, and civic leader Isaac Wyman (1724–1791), and was used as a tavern; the trustees of Dartmouth College held their first meeting here in 1770. The building is characteristic of many two-story, center chimney dwellings, a house type that became common in New Hampshire by the 1720s; it differs from other examples in eastern and central New Hampshire in details of carpentry and joinery that derive from Connecticut, the origin of many Keene settlers. At Wyman’s death, the house was divided among his widow and two of his sons and underwent slight changes to accommodate the three tenants. The Reverend Zedekiah Smith Barstow, minister of the First Congregational Church in Keene, purchased the property in 1818. The last minister to be “settled” by the Town of Keene under the old New England tradition of town support for an established church, Barstow altered the house, removing most physical traces of its use as a tavern. He added small, heated rooms at each end of the building in 1822 and changed most of the window sashes. Barstow’s changes added Federal-style chimneypieces within the house and a portico over the front doorway that illustrates Asher Benjamin’s advocacy of drilled holes as a means of expressing details of the Doric order. Clifford Sturtevant, a collector and dealer in antiques, acquired the property in 1925 and lived there until his death, which was followed by sale of the house to the Foundation for the Preservation of Historic Keene in 1968. Sturtevant removed a substantial wing that was attached to the rear (west) elevation of the dwelling when he acquired it and restored areas within the house. Behind the house is a long carriage shed that dates from the early nineteenth century.
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c. 1762, 1820s and 1920s alterations. 339 Main St.
Bryant F. Tolles Jr. and James L. Garvin
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