Gilman Garrison House

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Gilman Garrison House in Exeter, New Hampshire

In 1709, the Gilman family built a garrison, or fortified structure, near the banks of the Squamscot River, where the family owned lucrative sawmills. The interior of this unusual building reveals walls constructed of massive sawn logs and a pulley above the main entrance that was used to operate a portcullis, or reinforced door. In the mid-eighteenth century, Peter Gilman substantially remodeled the house, adding a wing with elegantly paneled rooms.

Council room of Gilman Garrison House in Exeter, New Hampshire

Today, visitors experience the house as it was restored by William Dudley, the last owner of the house before Historic New England acquired it in 1966. Dudley created a museum of regional history through the lives of generations of Gilmans and other residents. His installation includes view ports that reveal the fascinating architectural evolution of the garrison house.


2013 Schedule
June 1, free admission
July 20
August 24
September 21
October 13
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tours on the hour.  Last tour at 4:00 p.m.

The Gilman Garrison House is a Historic New England property.


Top photo: The Gilman Garrison House - In 1709, the Gilman family built a fortified structure across the river from the family saw mills. The house was built of sawn horizontal hemlock planks that were mortis and tenoned into oak posts on the first floor and dovetailed on the second floor. Circa 1770, Peter Gilman changed the aesthetic of the house from a low-ceilinged garrison into the fine Georgian-style house visible today. As a member of the King’s Council, Gilman needed a home in which he could conduct business and entertain. He added the two-story addition and even added an extra row of lights to each upper window sash to give the impression of grandeur from the outside. The twentieth century restoration of the house shows changing attitudes toward early American history.

Bottom photo: Council room - William Dudley, a Gilman descendant, began a restoration of the house in the mid-twentieth century. He created a council room in Peter Gilman’s front parlor and emphasized Exeter’s role as the Revolutionary capital of New Hampshire. Although Peter Gilman remained loyal to the crown during the Revolution, as the portraits of King William and Queen Mary attest, the townspeople of Exeter were fond enough of him to appoint him Town Moderator. William Dudley created a museum of Exeter and Gilman family history through the story of the garrison.