The Red Tower Estate
Hamilton Smith II bought the Red Tower and several surrounding tracts in 1895. He was the ninth owner of the property.
He expanded and renovated the house and built the estate which surrounded it.
Smith's descendents sold the property in 1944. It has served as apartments, a boarding house and even a tavern.
"I had four or five roommates in a large room said to be the ladies dressing room for getting pretty before the balls which were said to have taken place in the ballroom which was empty during my stay. Since I was to go from UNH ROTC direct to the Army later in '44 having a few roommates was a treat compared to later events. And when I returned to Durham in '46 we were in 3 high bunk beds in NH Hall waiting for dorm completion that was not a fun idea. We sure were happy to go to the brand new dorm Englehart."
"I lived on the second floor of the red tower (literally in the tower part of the house) for two years, 1973 - 1975, when I graduated from UNH with a BA in Psychology. My roommates were Susan Terry, Liz Ball and Maggie Woisard. They were in the theatre department so we would have alot of "creative" people stopping by. I remember our record player playing music by Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, the Band, Eagles, Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, and the Allman Brothers."
—Lisa Vosburgh (Earl) '75
Hamilton Smith II met and married Alice Congreve while working in London as the owner of a mining engineering firm. When Alice and Hamilton retired to the Red Tower in 1895, they set about renovating the estate into a jewel of the Gilded Age. The photo at left shows the music room.
Smith purchased all of the land from Main Street to the Oyster River. By the time he was finished, he had acquired 70 acres. The gardens were open to the residents of Durham. This photo was taken from the house tower looking south.View a map of the estate.
"The Tack Room became my father's workshop. Where carriages once were garaged my father kept the c. 1929 Packard touring car provided for the use of the Butler sisters, his car and his truck once he began his trucking business. One of my delights was being asked to go for a ride in the Packard and being allowed to sit on a jump seat between the back and front seats. It was a convertible and had removable side curtains. Big bearskins were required in the winter to keep warm."
—Gertrude Smart Wells
Water was pumped from a well located beneath the pump house to the water tower where it was gravity fed to the other structures on the estate and to the neighboring Community Church. Electricity for the pump house and the estate was generated by a plant near the river.
"The Billiard House had absolutely beautiful woodwork on all the walls, upstairs and downstairs. There is a large picture window in the back with a bench seat underneath. The kitchen had been added on at a later date, as was a small bedroom on the first floor that they added when we moved in. The upstairs had one "single" room and two "double" rooms; the second double room was over the kitchen and had been added on later as well."
—Kim Chandler '91
Alice Smith had the Smith Chapel built for her husband after his death in 1900. The chapel is built in the English gothic style with stone buttresses on each exterior corner.
The Smith Chapel exterior, present day. The Town of Durham took over the care of the chapel in 1963. It is currently halfway through a restoration. (Photo by Lisa Nugent, UNH Photographic Services)
Smith's Point on the Oyster River. While boating with his beloved dog, Hannah, Hamilton Smith II ran aground on July 4, 1900, the day before his 60th birthday. He suffered a heart attack while trying to free his boat from the rocks.