Selecting the examples of historic architectural styles that are running in the Red Barn’s Strolling Dover series on Wednesdays, I have to admit one thing.

Often, more impressive houses can be found in some of the neighboring cities and towns, meaning those a bit closer to the ocean.

Unlike more prosperous settlements around nearby Atlantic harbors – Portsmouth, New Hampshire; York, Maine; and Newburyport, Massachusetts, all spring to mind – Dover was essentially a blue-collar mill town. Or, as the ditty went,

Portsmouth by the sea;
Dover, by the smell

referring to the tanneries needed to keep the mills supplied with leather belts that conveyed power from the falling water to the looms and related machinery above.

Rich merchants and sea captains didn’t retire here, and even though we were a seaport, we were a dozen or so miles from the open ocean downstream. As a result, our housing was more modest, less refined than some of the magnificent specimens found clustered overlooking the prime wharves and customs houses of our tonier neighbors.

That doesn’t take away from my pleasure of strolling through Dover or of sharing details observed along the way. Just want to put it all in perspective.


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