KINGSTON —Don’t you love it when “Kingston Days” rolls around every August of every summer on the Kingston Plains? The Plains go back to the 18th century and occupy the center of town in the heart of the Historic District. On one side of it is the house dating back to 1686.
From Indian shutters to the fine restaurant it is today, this building icon has had an interesting history. Spanning back over three centuries, even before the Town of Kingston was incorporated in 1694, the 1686 House was originally built in that year, supposedly by a Mr. Choate, who eventually sold it to his son, David, in 1753.
Later on, when the Rev. Benjamin Choate took it over, it was used as a parsonage and remained with the Choate family until 1777. Ironically, it was sold to Colonel Ebenezer Stevens, who once headed up the King’s Regiment of New Hampshire. Being a British sympathizer and loyalist, he didn’t like the fact that Dr. Josiah Bartlett of Kingston had signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
For the next 114 years came a long succession of Clarks.
In 1836, Simeon P. Clark purchase the property from Robert Ayer for $1,900.00. Then it passed on to his son, John Tyler Clark, who in turn passed it on to his daughter, Mary Clark Tucker. It is said that her nephew, Henry Howard Clark, was born in the 1686 House in the southwest corner. So Mary Clark Tucker and her husband, Warren Tucker, lived in the house for many years until Warren died in 1950, thus ending 114 years of Clark ownership.
Then it changed hands when Al and Hazel Simms bought it in the 1950’s for $6,000, with the understanding that Mary Clark Tucker could live there for the rest of her life. For that purpose, a small shop out back was made into a small home for her. She lived happily there until she had to be moved into a nursing home where she died in 1967. Shortly after her death, the home was sold to George Swartz to enable his son, Ralph, to start up a restaurant business. In it heyday, some of the Clark relatives worked there: Lucinda, Muffy and Kathy.
However, the restaurant was not very successful, and so George Swartz sold the 1686 House in the 1970’s to Peter Speliotis, who with his family, rehabilitated the failed restaurant into a successful business. This tradition has been carried on by his successor, steven Gillispie, who bought the building from the Speliotis Estate in 2000.
Today, as a family restaurant, the 1686 House enjoys high esteem, such as: “Good food, great service, fine dining experience, and lots of history” to go with it. The one I like the best is: “A favorite place to take the family out to dine and come back for more on Mother’s Day.”