Weirs Beach at night, circa 1959. Click here to enlarge this time-lapse photograph.
In contrast to today’s thriving nightlife scene, over a century ago, Weirs Beach was a “dry” town, no doubt due to the influence of the Methodists, who had their annual camp-meetings here. We do not know exactly when it became legal to serve alcoholic beverages in Weirs Beach. Here is an interesting excerpt from an August 31, 1885 Nashua Telegraph newspaper article, covering that year’s reunion in Weirs Beach of NH civil war veterans.
“The crowds that arrive on every train seem very orderly. There is little rowdyism, little drunkeness. This happy state of affairs is perhaps somewhat due to the efforts of the local police backed by the most influential people of the place, who are determined that the rumseller shall not curse this place and ruin its hopeful prospects and otherwise healthful influences, by carrying on his destructive trade. Arrests have been made of persons detected in selling liquors, and fines promptly imposed and paid, or in default of payment or bonds the jail has received the convicted persons. Rev. C. Libbey, the resident pastor, has been very efficient in creating the strong temperance sentiment of the place.”
None other than the very symbol of the temperance movement, Carrie Nation, stayed at the New Hotel Weirs in the early 1900’s. At the time, she was in the employ of Dr. J.A. Greene, the Hotel’s owner, advertising Dr. Greene’s Nervura patent medicine at the nearby Belknap County Fair. However, it seems she did not use her hatchet on the Hotel’s liquor cabinet.
According to Freeman C. Willis, who managed the Hotel at the time, “I always kept liquor in my hotels…we carried all kinds of wines and cordials; whiskeys, gin and beer. Once the Deputy Sheriff tipped me off that we were going to be raided. I took the precaution of going to the Judge. ‘What’s the fine this year on selling liquor?’, I asked him.’On whiskey…hard-liquor…about $35 or $40… beer, less…about $5 or $10,’ he told me. But they didn’t raid me, after all…There were never any drunks in my hotels. People years back knew how to use liquor, at least the class of folks which came to my hotels did. They weren’t liquor hogs; didn’t try to run the glasses over, to get a spoonful more. One drink was enough…or, perhaps, two…I was very careful who I sold to. If a man came around who was known to be inclined to drink too much, I’d say, “‘Bar’s closed.'”