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Marker remembers Abbott House history, especially ‘beloved Aunt Clara’

  • Rebecca Yohe stands in front the Abbott House, located at 382 N. State St., where she has memories of when her (Great) Aunt Clara Henry lived there while Yohe was growing up. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • Once in danger of being demolished out of neglect after it sat idle for nearly 15 years, the Abbott House, located at 382 N. State St., was eventually restored by the new owners, who had plans to build 80 new condominiums at the site. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Once in danger of being demolished out of neglect after it sat idle for nearly 15 years, the Abbott House, located at 382 N. State St., was eventually restored by the new owners, who had plans to build 80 new condominiums at the site. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • Sumner Dole, of Canterbury, one of the cousins from the descendants of Amos Abbott, part of one of the city’€™s oldest families, in front of the former family home on North State Street in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Rebecca Yohe stands in front the Abbott House, located at 382 N. State St., where she has memories of when her (Great) Aunt Clara Henry lived there while Yohe was growing up. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • Original doors lean against the Abbott House on North State Street in Concord. Once in danger of being demolished out of neglect after it sat idle for nearly 15 years, the Abbott House, located at 382 N. State St., was eventually restored by the new owners, who had plans to build 80 new condominiums at the site. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • Once in danger of being demolished out of neglect after it sat idle for nearly 15 years, the Abbott House, located at 382 N. State St., now has a marker for the family homestead. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • Rebecca Yohe stands in front the Abbott House, where she has memories of when her Great Aunt Clara Henry lived.

  • GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • A family photo of Aunt Clara Henry of the Abbott family. COURTESY—Abbott family

  • An undated family photo showing the Abbott House on North State Street in Concord. Courtesy of the Abbott family

  • An udated family photo showing the Abbott House on North State Street in Concord. COURTESY—Abbott family

Published: 10/14/2021 4:47:12 PM

When Clara Henry died in 2001, the uncertain future for her historic home on North State Street in Concord was just beginning to unfold.

A cherished teacher at the city’s Garrison School, Henry never had any children of her own. She left the home that was built during the Revolutionary War and its surrounding acres to eight cousins who tried unsuccessfully to save the family homestead. They looked at various easements and ways to preserve the property but couldn’t find the right fit.

“In the end, we determined that we would have to sell it, so we did,” said Sumner Dole of Canterbury, one of the cousins.

The sale of the property in 2006 to a developer was a sharp loss but the family wanted to preserve their connection to the land as well as honor the memory of their aunt, who grew up in the house and died there in her 90s. They wrote into the sale agreement that they would be able to place a granite marker at the property. Last week, the hefty stone was put into place.

The marker reads: “In 1735, James and Abigail Abbott with their 13 children moved from North Andover Massachusetts to settle here on Rattlesnake Plain. These pioneers lived in log cabins protected by a stockade until 1760 when they built the house to the north. After eight generations of ownership the property was sold in 2006.”

The stone specifically mentions “beloved Aunt Clara” as a notable descendant.

“Aunt Clara, she didn’t have children of her own, so she had all her nieces and nephews and she spoiled us rotten,” Dole said. “So she was extremely popular. You know, she took us all different places. We’d go the beach, go on little trips. She was a real fun person.”

Born Clara Josephine Henry in 1907, she was one of the first female golfers at Beaver Meadow. Later in life she married and became Clara Cleveland, but most people still knew her as Miss Henry due to her years as a teacher, her family said.

Even in her 90s, she was fiercely independent, still heating her house with coal and still stoking the stove by herself.

One thing Henry did was keep a large garden open for the community to use, which was lost when the land was sold. Condos and private streets with names like Callaway Drive cover the area now.

“It was so disappointing when it all happened that the city couldn’t have figured out a way to buy it, to make it into a park, a community garden,” Dole’s daughter Rebecca Yohe said. “Sure, gut the house, do whatever you need to, but make it a daycare or meeting space. Make it still part of the community in an honorable way.”

The Abbott House, located at 382 N. State St., was built by Amos Abbott, a member of one of the city’s oldest families. Their name is spelled with two T’s and is not directly related to the Abbot family, spelled with one T, that helped create the stagecoach firm Abbot-Downing Co.

The home was in danger of being demolished after it sat idle for nearly 15 years with a fallen-in roof and a sagging second floor. Sitting close to the road, it has been mostly restored by the new owners, who built 80 new condominiums at the site, and is expected to be a single family home again once renovations are complete.

Restoring the Abbott House had always been tied to the development of the property. The original developer Yves Tanguay had to promise he’d fix up the homestead before getting the go-ahead from the planning board in 2005 to build new homes. He ended up in bankruptcy, and those conditions carried over when five investors bought the property in 2011.

Yohe said that for the longest time she would avoid driving by the house because it was upsetting.

“It bothered me that her curtains were still there,” Yohe said. “Just left, abandoned. It was just disrespectful to me in somehow that it was like ‘it’s not your house anymore, but we still have your things.’ ”

Dole said the 10 acres of fields had more than a foot of rich soil with barely a single stone because it had been farmed for so many generations.

“This is, unfortunately, some of our best agricultural lands,” he said. “They are the easiest to build on. And once they have been built upon, they’re lost forever.”




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