The Danville Meeting House was erected by 1755 under the sponsorship of twenty-seven private proprietors who ultimately contributed the property to the newly incorporated parish of Hawke (renamed Danville in 1836). The proprietors’ unusual contribution of land and building permitted the parish to finish the interior of the structure through funds raised by the then-commonplace method of auctioning pew “ground”—the locations for the privately owned box pews within the building—without the need to reimburse the proprietors first for their expenses in erecting the building. The building is significant as the earliest meetinghouse in New Hampshire in nearly original condition, including its window sashes and clapboards. Although a few other survivors, notably those in Newington (1712) and Hampstead (1745), predate the Danville building, these have been heavily altered and no longer fully express the appearance of an eighteenth-century meetinghouse. No records have yet been located to document the craftsmen who framed the building, constructed the pews, plastered the walls and ceiling, and fashioned the pulpit and its sounding board (canopy). The pulpit, an elaborate feature with tablet-shaped panels, a curved base, and well-turned balusters in its staircase, appears to have been fashioned by a different joiner than those who built the simpler pews. Like most meetinghouses, the Danville structure sheltered both religious services and town meetings until other church buildings supplanted it and a new town hall was built in 1887. Even earlier, around 1860, most of the privately owned box pews of the building were removed, probably to be replaced by settees, which by then had become common in New England town halls. Arthur W. Tuck of Danville (1872–1946) and Harold B. Greenwood of Kensington (1877–1969) restored or fabricated many of the pews now seen both on the main floor and in the galleries (balconies) in 1936.
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Danville Meeting House
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