Salmon P. Chase Birthplace
Photo taken by Richard Doody in 1989
This was the childhood home (1808-16) of Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873), who served Ohio in the U.S. Senate (1849-55, 1861) and as Governor (1855-59), and the Nation as Secretary of the Treasury (1861-64) and Chief Justice (1864-73). In the latter capacity he presided over the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. -- The Colonial-style, 2-1/2-story frame house, in which Salmon Portland Chase was born in 1808, was apparently built around 1790. Chase lived in the house until he was about 8 years old, and it is believed to be the only extant building associated with his life. How it appeared during his boyhood is not known. Until around 1848, though, it stood on the opposite side of current New Hampshire 12A. At that time the railroad line was put through, and the house was moved to make way. A History of the Town of Cornish, New Hampshire, published about 1912, contains a contemporary photograph of the house, which shows it little changed since then. The covered, one-bay front entrance porch and exterior window shutters are gone, and a connective wing to the barn at the rear has also been removed. Though deteriorating, the barn remains. Finally, during the 1940's, gray asbestos shingles were installed over the exterior clapboards.
The modified L-shaped house now comprises three sections. The 2-1/2-story front north-south portion is two bays deep and five bays wide with a pilastered center-front bay and pilasters at all corners. The section has a slate roof that two red brick interior chimneys, located behind the gable, pierce. Most windows in the main portion are six-over-six sash, and those on the first story have ornamental cornices. A 12-over-12 window lies beneath each gable end, and the frontispiece entrance contains a front door topped by a semicircular fanlight.
Although lower and narrower than the front section, the middle east-west portion of the house is also 2 1/2 stories high. Topped by a tar-papered gable roof, this section has one exterior east end chimney and a narrow exterior stack on the north side. Most windows are two-over-two, but beneath the east gable end lies an 8-over-12 sash window. The rearmost east-west house section is narrower than the middle portion. It stands 1-1/2 stories high and has a tar-paper gable roof. The north entrance door of the rear section is topped by a hood on brackets, and the south, barnlike door has strap hinges. The rapidly deteriorating weatherboard barn stands at the north-rear of the house.
Inside, the altered residence serves as a two-family dwelling. The front central-hall openings into first-floor rooms have been blocked off, and the open two-run stairway mounts directly to the second-story apartment. The three first-floor front rooms, now used as bedrooms, are the most interesting. Located to either side of the closed-off central hall, each has an apparently original floor of wide, wooden boards held in place by tapered, headless nails. A similar floor is found in one second-story room, and similar nails hold the board walls of the rearmost house section. Throughout the first story, simple four-panel interior doors are found. In the three front rooms, some are held by iron "H-L" hinges and fastened with straight latches. In the front south room, Colonial-style interior shutters glide across front windows to keep out sunlight.
Recently, the State of New Hampshire placed a roadside historical marker near the north drive to the dwelling, and an older stone marker lies in the front yard. Along this stretch of New Hampshire 12A, other, similar-period farmhouses dot the picturesque Connecticut River Valley countryside.
National Historic Landmark statement of significance, May 15, 1975