Spring House Hunt

A historic N.H. property, once a movie setting, is for sale

It's the first time this home in Jaffrey Center has been on the market in nearly 50 years.

The cottage has five bedrooms. Steve Jackson

What do a Harvard professor, an opera singer, the first president of Reed College, and two US foreign service diplomats have in common?

They all lived in Benjamin Robinson Cottage in Jaffrey Center, N.H. Not only does the home have famous ownership, but a PBS-produced film on Edith Wharton called “Summer” was filmed there.

Now, for the first time in nearly 50 years, the property is going on the market. The asking price is likely to be $325,000, according to the owner’s estate.

The home, which has five bedrooms, four full baths, and 3,094 square feet of living space, is set on a 7.8-acre lot with views of Mount Monadnock.

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Steve Jackson, the CEO of The Park Theater in Jaffrey, researched the home’s history. (His wife, Mary Bostnar, is co-executor of the property). Jackson and Bostnar were friends with the owner, Mary Horak Kidd, who died last year.

In 1896, Benjamin Lincoln Robinson and his wife, Margaret, commissioned the home to be built on Thorndike Pond Road. At the time, Robinson was director of Arnold Arboretum and a botany professor at Harvard University. Margaret Casson Robinson was president of the Jaffrey Village Improvement Society from 1908 until 1928.

In 1912, Susan Wheeler, a Boston resident, bought the home, but in 1915, Wheeler’s daughter, Sherlie Beatrice Wheeler Harpham, an opera and concert singer and Broadway actress, acquired the property.

In 1943, Harpham sold the house to William Trufant Foster and his wife. Foster was the first president of Reed College in Portland, Ore.

The home changed hands a few other times in the 1950s and ’60s, until it was sold to Coburn Byron Kidd and his wife, Mary Horak Kidd, in 1969. The Kidds were involved with the US Foreign Service during the Cold War. Coburn Byron Kidd died in 1981, and Mary Horak Kidd stayed in the house until her death at 97 in 2017.

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“Mary and I became very close friends about five years ago,” Mary Bostnar said. “She asked me before she passed away if I would take care of her estate once she is gone.”

Bostnar said the home has lots of twists and turns, filling it with character. She also mentioned the library, the mountain view from many of the rooms, the screened-in porch, and the porch that runs the length of the house.

Bostnar was also tasked with going through all of Mary Horak Kidd’s belongings. She recently found a note from 1987 from a family that was vacationing in the area and loved the house. The note said, “If and when you ever think of selling, please contact us first.”

“The are so many incidents like that,” Bostnar said. “Once everyone knew that Mary was at an assisted-living place, people started saying, ‘Do you think she’s going to sell the house?’ “

Now Bostnar, along with an attorney, are selling the home. “It’s such a beautiful house,” Bostnar said.

For more information, e-mail [email protected] or call 641-715-3900, Ext. 884424.

See more photos of the home:

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