New Boston Historical Society
New Boston, New Hampshire

Smith's garage
A. P. Smith's garage in the 1920s still had the ramp from McLane's Blacksmith & Carriage Shop

The Old Blacksmith Shop

Across the street from the Historical Society museum is a garden center near New Boston Hardware and Dodge's Store. The next time you wander among the potted plants, imagine a two-story building on this site, one which bustled with commerce and industry for over one hundred years! You may remember it as Raymond Wells's necktie factory or Plastic Techniques; later it was a NAPA Auto Parts store.

July 4th parade
4th of July parade in 1990s — photo by Carol Hulick

garden center
Garden center in 2021: the former site of the Old Blacksmith Shop

Before the Fire of 1887 burned most of the village center, James Neil McLane was a blacksmith in a small workshop on this site, owned by his uncle Joseph Reed Whipple, who also owned the general store nearby, where Solomon Atwood was the storekeeper. After the fire, Whipple built for Atwood a new store, the one that's now Dodge's. He also built a new, larger workshop for his nephew James — a building 80 feet long and 36 feet wide.

blacksmith shop
McLane's Blacksmith & Carriage Shop was built after the Fire of 1887.
Carriages were pushed up the ramp to the paint shop.

David Woodbury paid McLane 60 cents to shoe his horse in 1893

The village blacksmith provided an essential service in olden times. The man who shoed your horses and your oxen was the 19th-century equivalent of Mr. Gee's Tire, in the days before farm tractors and automobiles. James McLane, who was 29 years old at the time of the Great Fire, had ambitions beyond shoeing farm animals. Well-situated in his new workshop, just across the bridge from The Tavern, McLane now described himself as a Blacksmith and a Carriage Builder, too!

Old photographs of McLane's building show a ramp that enabled workmen to push the new carriages up to a paint shop on the second floor. There also was a harness shop upstairs; made there were the buckles and leather straps which attached your horse to your carriage.

After 1910, horseless carriages (or "automobiles") became more common in the streets of New Boston. The last blacksmith to work in this building was a man named Fogg, who shared space with the garage of A.P. Smith, a car mechanic who sold gasoline from a hand-cranked pump. (See photo at the top of this page.)

Sonata Fabrics — manufacturer of The Cathedral Tie
cathedral tie cathedral tie

In 1946, Raymond Wells (of Wellswood Farm on Hooper Hill) converted the old building into a necktie factory. Sonata Fabrics employed 30 women to sew and press men's neckwear, designed by Wells. One of the factory managers was Roland Sallada, who later was a New Boston Selectman and State Representative.

When Wells gave up the necktie business, Roger Babson bought the building to store records for his Gravity Research Foundation. Disappointed when the Foundation couldn't find a cure for gravity, Babson sold the Old Blacksmith Shop to Roland Sallada, whom you'll remember from the necktie factory. Sallada manufactured greeting cards here; Dick Moody remembers seeing the old printing machine in the cellar, all covered with greeting card glitter.

In the late 1960s, the building was bought by Richard Moore and his partners in Plastic Techniques (PTI), which manufactured specialty plastic parts using rotational molds. After PTI moved from New Boston to Goffstown, the factory became an auto parts store — first Frank Crawford's, then NAPA. When NAPA relocated to a new store on the Weare Road, the old building in the center of town was taken down.

Factory Caf‌é concept by architects Ingram/Wallace of Manchester NH

The Old Blacksmith Shop was many things in its hundred years; unfortunately, none of those things was a restaurant. In 1985, tavernkeeper Lou Maynard and his partners planned to make the historic building into an eatery, but for some reason that didn't happen. How pleasant it would have been to dine in The Factory Caf‌é, overlooking the Piscataquog River!