The Fournier Family’s philosophy is rooted in timeless New England values of simple hospitality with an emphasis on sourcing the finest local ingredients, cooking with a passion for flavor, and serving every guest as a welcome member of their family. This family focus imbues every aspect of this evolutionary culinary and agricultural enterprise which will bring together more than 200 years of Thompson House history in an authentic presentation of food and drink that will at once tantalize the senses while making every guest feel at home.
Sometime between 1790 and 1810 a homestead was built up on a flat piece of ground (a rare commodity in this area) between the Ellis and Wildcat Rivers. The original farm sat on 100 acres. The farmhouse and barns were thoughtfully located where they remain today taking full advantage of fertile ground, easy access to water (the Ellis River), outstanding southern exposure, and an ideal location on what was even then a “major” roadway. This road now known as Willow Lane leads from Route 16A and once crossed the river just north of the golf course’s replica covered bridge. The current Routes 16 and 16A were then part of the fields belonging to the farm.
Harry S. Thompson and his wife Alice King were the most noteworthy owners of the property. Harry was a prominent lawyer in North Conway having an office on Pine Street. Alice was an R.N. and a masseuse. They used the farm as a summer residence until Harry retired. Once he moved to Jackson full time, Harry assumed many duties. He was the cemetery caretaker & ran a “livery” service between the North Conway and Glen train stations bringing passengers and goods to and from Jackson. He also ran a general store and eventually became the Innkeeper of the Fairview Hotel which stood across the street from his house; condominiums stand there today.
Harry and Alice were considered prosperous and lived a good, albeit hardworking life here for many years. Their son Nick inherited the farm, which he eventually sold to legendary Jackson resident, Dick May, from whom it was purchased by Larry Baima in 1974.
Both of the barns on the property are fine examples of English “scribe ruled” construction. We know by the existence of the “eave side” entry doors that the smaller attached barn pre-dates the larger out barn. We know this because the eave side entry doors would not have been a practical feature in snow country and were soon corrected in the construction of the second detached barn. The gable end doorways being better protected and more easily accessed also provided for more usable interior space. A carriage barn connected the first barn to the house. It had 2 doorways, one on either side of the barn so the horses could bring the carriage into the barn on one side and leave by passing straight thru the other side. This way they didn’t have to back the team up. This area is now known fondly as “the bricks” and is located next to the bar. The barns supported life on the farm by providing shelter for animals, feed, farm tools, and provisions of various kinds.
The Thompson House
The center chimney cape, circa 1790 – 1810, represents a fine example of a unique building style known as “plank” construction and is one of only a handful that remain in New Hampshire. The timber frame, made of locally grown first growth spruce and hemlock, is held together by 4” thick vertical planks that are pegged into the framing timbers and scribed into the sills. One framed, the doorways and windows were then cut out. This unique style of construction made for an extremely strong structure and no corner bracing was ever needed. It also added a good deal of warmth because of the solid construction of the walls. The rafters that tie the frame together span the full 30’ width of the house from outside wall to outside wall. The inside walls were then covered with split board and horse hair plaster. Split board, a method which pre-dates lathing, was a method of plastering that required fixing random-width boards to a wall and then, using a hatchet, splitting the boards to create voids or “keys” for the plaster to adhere to. The addition of horsehair strengthened the plaster much the same as fiberglass does today.
The heart and soul of the home is a massive center chimney with 3 working fireplaces and a bake oven. The main fireplace, a Rumford style, with an arched fireback was used as the kitchen “stove.” The large crane and gutchens held the cook and laundry pots. The bake oven had its own flue and ash pit. The ashes were saved for such useful things as the making of soap and keeping slippery walkways passable. The other 2 fireplaces provided heat and auxiliary cooking space. Fires in those days were kept burning 24hours a day. This massive structure is held up by huge granite block cribbing. The fireplaces and bake oven have been completely restored to their original condition.
The floors were made of pine and hemlock, laid sometimes 3 layers thick, and, over the years, painted with many layers of paint. They now lie, clean and smooth made from planks up to 25 inches wide, as a proud reminder of the remarkable craftsmanship of the past.
The doors, of which there are many, allowed rooms to be isolated for heating purposes. They are mostly raised 5-panel construction; pegged not nailed. Their rich “pumpkin” color offers a beauty revealed by time. All of the pieces of hardware on the doors are handmade, including the original “Norfolk” period thumb latches.
The original windows are 9/6 hand-blown “wavy” glass. The front of the house that now faces Willow Lane (once the main road), received a face-lift in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s when the windows were changed to a 2/2 style. This was thought to be more modern and prestigious. Larger pieces of glass were more difficult to come by in the Colonial times, especially this far from a seaport. At the same time, an “A” dormer was added over the front door creating a new look and more usable space upstairs. This dormer was the only significant change made to the original structure in almost 200 years.
Sometime later a room was added that connected the carriage barn ell to the main house. Although it was built in traditional post and beam construction it was not plank framed. The interior walls were covered with regular lathing and horsehair plaster. This new room was built with a significant feature; a single chimney that was made to accommodate a wood fired cook stove and thus became a second kitchen. We know that at some point there was a kitchen fire that scared the ceiling and charred the beams. It seems likely that there must have been a water pump nearby perhaps in the adjacent ell or the whole complex could have been consumed.
The basement under the original house was used for cold storage as its large granite blocks and cool earthen floor kept farm products viable year round. Harry added a room for his homemade “hooch” which now, appropriately so, serves as our wine cellar. Oh yes, Harry did like his “hooch!” His recipe remains with us today, though not on the menu.