Antrim’s Pine Haven was once part of a popular area for out-of-town visitors

  • The Pine Haven Cabins in Antrim on April 20. Abbe Hamilton /Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The Pine Haven Cabins in Antrim. April 20, 2021 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Martha Brown in the kitchen of Pine Haven Cabins. Pine Haven Cabins photos , postcards, and ephemera courtesy of the Antrim Historical Society. Courtesy image—

  • Pine Haven Cabins photos , postcards, and ephemera courtesy of the Antrim Historical Society. Courtesy image—

  • Pine Haven Cabins photos, postcards and ephemera, courtesy of the Antrim Historical Society.

  • Pine Haven Cabins photos , postcards, and ephemera courtesy of the Antrim Historical Society. Courtesy image—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/18/2021 3:08:59 PM

Today, the tree-shaded cabins are just barely visible from busy Route 9 in Antrim, at the intersection with Clinton Road. Not so long ago, however, the Pine Haven Tourist Court and Cabins served as one of Antrim’s numerous cottage and resort enterprises, and catered to a good number of locals, too.

The eight seasonal cottages were built in 1939 by Bert and Elizabeth Van Hennik, who came from Scarsdale, N.Y. In addition to the cabins, they built a tea room, and an Esso gas station. Their daughter, Martha Brown, took over the cabins and tea room in 1983 when her mother died, and ran it until 2003, according to records from the Antrim Historical Society. North Carolina resident Donald Brown, Martha’s son, has owned the property since her death in 2005.

As a teenager, Donald Brown lived in Connecticut but would come up during the summers and on holidays. Many of the cabin’s patrons were from New York or southern New England, Brown said. In those days, the cabins served as a convenient waypoint for people ultimately journeying to the White Mountains. The journey was much longer prior to the construction of modern interstates, he said. Brown helped to pump gas when the motorcycles came through during the summer, and helped with tables inside whenever his grandmother rang a ship’s bell to let him know she needed help.

Soon after she arrived in the area as a teenager, Brown’s mother drove Antrim’s school bus, “which was more of a school car,” to bring students to the high school in town, Brown said. His grandparents ran the cottages through World War Two, and his grandmother laid out cots on the cabin porches to accommodate returning soldiers at the war’s end, Brown said. In subsequent years, the cottages served hunters for a weekend or week at a time. They also housed artists, such as those who came to town to study under a stained glass artist downtown, Antrim Historical Society member Barbara Black said. Antrim resident Paul Hardwick said some of his classmates at Nathaniel Hawthorne College would stay in the cabins. “I would swing in for breakfast and listen to some of the tall tales (Mrs. Van Henni) would tell,” he said.

Visitors would stay in the cabins and come to the tea room for meals, and when Martha Brown ran the cabins she would come and sit with customers to talk, Black said. Community members could come in for breakfast and lunch too, she said, “but you could only get supper if you were staying there. And you had to let her know a day ahead of time,” Black said. Brown could be very specific about certain things, Black said, recalling a customer who worked hard to convince Brown to serve him a piece of pie for breakfast, when she wanted to save it for the lunch crowd. “She had lots of twos of things,” in the kitchen, Black said, recalling a wood stove and an old Frigidaire refrigerator alongside their modern counterparts. Brown was a member of the women’s club and hosted meetings up there. “She was a really good cook, too,” Black said. Brown had worked as a secretary as Yale University before returning to Antrim to run the cabins, Black said.

A lot of the business’s dishware came from Antrim’s luxurious Greystone Lodge, which closed in the 1930s. In fact, many of the doors, furniture, and toilets on the site also came from the Greystone, Donald Brown said. The big slab of marble his mother and grandmother used as a prep table had originally served as a divider between the men’s shower stalls at the Greystone, Brown said.

White Birch Point was likely the first vacation cabin settlement in the Antrim area, dating back to the 1800s, Black said. The Greystone Lodge provided a fancier resort-style experience for visitors who arrived by train from parts south. The rise of the automobile industry proved the downfall of Greystone, Black said. However, cabins and guest houses still proliferated throughout the area. Lakeside Cabins stood just a mile up the road from Pine Haven, and two guest houses operated along Route 9 along the stretch, Brown said, along with nearby Breezy Point, the 1830 House, and Brook Haven Motel.

The property has been for sale since 2005, Brown said, although he took the signs down after no success during the first five or six years. “It’s all in the commercial zone, it could probably be pretty much anything,” he said. He said he’s currently in talks with two interested buyers.

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