In the first quarter of the twentieth century, there were several boarding houses in town to accommodate the summer vacationers who would come to town for Cobbett's Pond, Canobie Lake Park, and to get away from the local cities. The history of boarding houses in town is noted in "Rural Oasis". According to the book, "boarding houses specialized in either taking workers or vacationers". The working boarders would pay for a portion, or all, of their stay in farm labor, and this was no doubt a way to alleviate the work of the local farm hands. However, "boarding houses which took vacationers were the most popular. These farms required little or no work of their guests who had come to the country to relax and seek some fun. Many of the people who later built camps on Cobbett's Pond were first introduced to the area while boarding in Windham". It is recorded that the boarding houses in town charged an average of just over a dollar a day. One of such boarding houses was Nine Acres, which was ran by T B Clark at Windham Center. The building was located directly across from the Nesmith Library, then housed in the Armstrong Building, and the Town Hall.
Nine Acres was built in the mid 19th century by Robert Bartley, who also purchased the original Nesmith store next door to the home, after the original building burned in around 1856. Thomas W Simpson moved to the home in the mid 1860s after his family homestead burned to the ground. At that time he built a gristmill and sawmill, as well as a farm. He is noted in Morrison's "History of Windham" as being, "active in town affairs, and [serving] acceptably as moderator for nine successive years from 1853 to 1861 inclusive". He also served as selectman for several years during the same period. Thomas married Sarah Clark on January 5, 1854 and the couple had several children together.
Thomas Simpson owned the building that became Nine Acres until at least the 1890s when he was recorded on a map as still residing there and owning another building nearby. However, between that time and the 1920s, the property of the home that became Nine Acres came into the possession of T B Clark, who made the home a boarding house. The property was open to guests year round and offered, "private dance and recreation hall, home cooked food, fresh eggs, milk and vegetables". It is noted on a period brochure that Cobbett's Pond was available for "bathing" one half mile away, and Canobie Lake Park was a short two miles away.
A map was conveniently placed on the back of the brochure in order to illustrate the distances between Nine Acres and local attractions, as well as to show prospective vacationers which rail lines to take into town.
The building once christened "Nine Acres" is still standing in town and is located directly next to Windham's Senior Center. Some of the original features of the building, including the side hall and it's chimney, are still intact.
Derek Saffie is an avid Windham historian who enjoys researching and sharing his collection with all those interested in the history of the New England town.