The American House – 478 Central Ave
The American House hotel was opened ca. 1865 by William B. Smith in what was originally a private residence. After Smith’s death it was operated by his wife until she sold it in June 1867 to Col. Adams T. Peirce and L.P. True. By 1878, it was owned by Peirce and a new partner, Thomas K. Cushman. Peirce and True, incorporated as the A.T. Peirce Co., added the annex building, principally for the accommodation of ex-mayor Dr. James Lothrop and his wife who lived at the hotel for many years.
Col. Peirce eventually moved to Fall River, MA to open the Narragansett Hotel, but the A.T. Peirce Company continued to own the American House and the adjacent livery stables in Dover until Peirce’s death, at age 76, in 1910 and later, Cushman’s death, at age 75, in 1914.
On October 23, 1912 thousands gathered in front of the American House’s porch to hear a short speech by President William Howard Taft. The president was on a pleasure trip to Poland Springs, ME and traveled by auto from Portsmouth to Dover to greet loyal Republicans and over 2000 schoolchildren who were given the day off for the occasion. Thirty boy cadets from St. Charles School, in full military uniform, lined the steps of the American House to greet the president.
Just a few years later, the American House advertised “particular care given to Commercial Men and Automobile Parties.” Amenities included electric lights, steam heat and baths, garage facilities, and a telephone in each room. Around 1920, the hotel closed for a time and then re-opened in 1924 as the “attractive and home-like” New American House. New owner William E. Wiggin offered both American and European plans and livery services featuring “heavy and long distance hauling.”
Mrs. Madeline T. Reynolds took over by 1933 and advertised rooms “newly decorated and renovated throughout.” The livery stable was permanently closed and a new Grill Room opened and was promoted as a “Licensed Liquor Dispenser.” Rooms were $1.50 per night.
In 1938, the Dover Hotel Company Inc. took over management of the American House. Called “NH’s Distinctive Place to Dine” and “the leading hotel in a progressive city,” the premises were nonetheless sold again in 1950 to Robert J. Smith, the last owner. Smith’s ads listed 75 rooms, 50 baths, and a lovely Crystal Dining Room. In the late 50s a coffee shop was added.
By 1966, the American Hotel, a Dover fixture for a century, was torn down and replaced by a modern motel, the Imperial, in 1968. By 1970, it was known as the In-Towne, and became part of the Days Inn national chain in 1990.
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