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Smith Chapel, the buttressed, Gothic-style chapel built early in the 20th century, has been added to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places, the town announced Tuesday. Courtesy 

Historic place

Durham’s Smith Chapel named to Historic Places list

DURHAM — Smith Chapel, the buttressed, Gothic-style chapel built in the early years of the 20th century, has been added to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places, the town announced Tuesday.

The chapel construction was undertaken by Alice Congreve, a wealthy Durham widow whose husband, Hamilton Smith, died in 1900 in a boating accident on Oyster River. It was later donated to the town.

The chapel is modeled after a chapel in England where poet Alfred Lord Tennyson’s father was rector, according to a statement issued by the town of Durham. It was constructed in the English Gothic style with stone buttresses at each corner.

Hamilton Smith was a wealthy and well-known philanthropist. He was originally from Kentucky, but lived in Durham when he was young and attended the Durham Academy. He was an engineer and developed effective techniques for coal, gold and copper mining.

He helped develop the London Underground, and founded the Exploration Co., Limited, headquartered in New York.

Congreve’s family founded Congreve Rockets, which were used by the British during the War of 1812. Congreve Rockets are immortalized by Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner” by the phrase “rockets’ red glare,” which describes the bombardment of Fort Henry.

Both Smith and Congreve have buildings named after them at University of New Hampshire.

The State Register has helped to promote the significance of many historic properties across New Hampshire. Benefits of being listed on the State Register include:

• special consideration and relief from some building codes and regulations;

• designation of a property as historical, which is a pre-qualification for many grant programs, including conservation license plate grants and NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program;

• and acknowledgement of a property’s historical significance in the community.

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