I’m going out on a limb in declaring this one the event of the year, excited as I was to get a sneak preview of the elegant undertaking that’s about to start at 90 Concord St. — the Frank Anderson House.
I like to think of the stately mansions that line a section of Nashua’s historic North End as reminiscent of the architecture described in “The Great Gatsby.”
Most of us recall the impressive red brick estate at 90 Concord St., with its iconic columns, as connected to the former Mount St. Mary Seminary and its private high school for girls.
Thousands of people pass by the Frank Anderson House — which sits not far from Greeley Park — daily.
What most people might not know is the rich history contained within its exquisite high ceilings, wooden floors and how it showcases the opulent beauty of days gone by.
After Tina Andrade opened the doors to the mansion, I was amazed to hear her plans for the place.
Andrade is Home Health & Hospice Care’s development director of southern New Hampshire, whose administrative offices are located in Merrimack. The nonprofit has been around since 1883 and is a leader in providing “care for patients in their homes, in nursing facilities, and in the Community Hospice House, which is owned and operated by Home Health & Hospice Care,” according to its website.
The splendid mansion is now owned by the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, and Andrade and HHHC are collaborating with the educational institution to present, “A New Hampshire Designer Showhouse” from Aug. 2-31 at the Frank Anderson House. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Community Hospice House.
The college is hosting the event where 18 talented interior designers from New England have been selected to “reimagine” the rooms and spaces with new paint, wallpaper/coverings, furniture pieces and home accents. But they must be sensitive and respectful of the historic nature of the mansion.
The designers have about six weeks to complete their decorating projects for the 1906 Beaux-Arts style building, and they are generously doing this for free.
Design coordinator for the event is Genella McDonald, president of Stibler Associates, LLC, a commercial design firm in Bedford.
“The Frank Anderson House is truly the centerpiece of the North End,” Andrade says. “I don’t believe there’s anything else quite of this caliber around here. It’s so wonderful that we’re refreshing something for the rest of the neighborhood that also includes all new landscaping.”
Andrade did research with information available through the Nashua Historical Society; she was surprised there wasn’t more history recorded about the estate.
But what she did gather is intriguing: “Frank E. Anderson built the mansion in 1906 and was considered the owner of the largest shoe manufacturing company in the country, and the mayor thinks, in the world. They were turning out 10,000 pairs of shoes daily in Nashua at a factory located between Pine and Palm streets, the Estabrook-Anderson Shoe Co.,” Andrade says. Today, that wonderful old building is home to 57 Palm Square, which features apartments, a restaurant and retail businesses.
Anderson’s wife, Ella, was associated with the Ella F. Anderson Trust, which still donates to nonprofit organizations in the area.
In 1925, the mansion was bought by Francis P. Murphy, 74th governor of New Hampshire, who later went on to co-establish WMUR-TV, says Andrade. The home was sold to the Manchester Convent of the Sisters of Mercy in 1947 and used by Mount St. Mary Seminary.
Early bird tickets are $25. After Aug. 1, they’re $35.To purchase tickets, visit www.HHHC.org, or call 689-2936.
Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.