This building is part of the South Berwick Village District on the National Register of Historic Places. Deed research indicates that in 1827 a “home newly built by Nicholas Hanson” was here. He seems to have moved here from Dover, NH, where he was born in 1789. Sons Nicholas, Jr. (1831-1904) and Ebenezer S. Hanson (1825-1905) were likely born here, and later went into in the pharmacy business together. In 1852 the Great Falls & South Berwick Branch Railroad bought some of the land and built South Berwick Station very close to the house. Today the property is the home of Becker Antiques.
The back part of the Hanson Homestead seems to predate the front section. Deed research by property owners Rick and Linda Becker uncovered an 1831 reference to a “home newly built by Nicholas Hanson” on property he had purchased in 1827 from Hannah Carr and Edmund Haggens.
Born in 1789 in Dover, NH, Hanson was married to Lydia Sargent, who was born in 1794 in Newburyport, Mass. Nicholas died in 1865 and Lydia in 1843. The family is buried in Portland Street Cemetery.
Two of their children, Ebenezer S. Hanson (1825-1905) and Nicholas Hanson, Jr. (1831-1904) were in the pharmacy business together as early as the 1850s. In the Maine Business Directory of 1857, Ebenezer S. was also listed as an “ink manufacturer.”
When the railroad came in about that time, trains ran very close to the Hanson Homestead, as shown at left in the photo of South Berwick Station. Until about 1950 the line came into South Berwick from Conway, New Hampshire, crossing the bridge at Salmon Falls. The tracks ran south from here along the present route of Route 236.
It’s not clear what connection if any the Hansons had with the house after the railroad came through. A map shows the house may have been owned for a time by the railroad company.
The Hanson drugstore near the Corner of Main and Portland Streets was destroyed by the fire of 1870, but Nicholas Hanson, Jr. reestablished the business in the Business Block in 1871. A Hanson furniture store was also in the former Brown Store at 12 Portland Street in 1872.
By that time, Nicholas Jr. seems to have lived in the Jedediah Jenkins house, 105 Portland Street, which had been sold out of the Jenkins family in 1856. Nicholas Jr. had married Olivia Chadbourne in 1841 and Lucy Wentworth of Somersworth (probably Rollinsford), NH, in 1863. He was a Master Mason and member of St. John's Lodge, No. 51.
A map of 1872 shows Ebenezer S. Hanson living at Main and School Streets. He had married Hannah Wentworth (1830-1907) of Somersworth (Rollinsford), NH in 1849.
Today the Hanson Homestead is the home of Becker Antiques.
(Sources: Vital Records of Berwick, South Berwick [Cemetery] Record Book and OBHS archives)