Frost Tavern history by Elizabeth C. Frost

"A Memory of Seventy Years Ago"

by Elizabeth C. Frost, Newburyport, Massachusetts (c. 1902)

    A Paper Written and ready by Miss Elizabeth C. Frost Before a Meeting of the Local History Department of the Berwick Woman’s Club, Held at the Home of Miss Mary R. Jewett. (From a typed transcript. The paper is probably from c. 1902 and was presented by the daughter of Sarah Bartlett Frost (1776-1848), the owner of Frost Tavern.)

    Upon one of the broad streets of the old town of “Barvick,” now South Berwick, stands one of the oldest hostelries in Maine. It was built according to tradition in the year of 1798, and for over one century it has been occupied as an inn, a tavern and at this day a hotel.

    The modern improvements from time to time have taken from the old structure much of its ancient form, but the decorations upon the walls of its quaint old parlor remain intact. The origin of the paper bearing the mythical pictures that adorn the walls cannot be correctly determined, but it is probably a French manufacture, and was made by Louis Robert in 1799.

    My early recollections of the old hotel date back to the year 1832 [?], when it was owned and occupied by Madam (Sarah) Frost, and known as Frost’s Tavern.

    The hotel which you (Miss Jewett) mention in your letter was built by Mr. Winthrop Norton, and was purchased by my mother about 1817. I was very young and, as no record was kept of the date of her removal to South Berwick, I only know that I could not have been more than seven years old, at the most.

    Mr. Norton, I presume, built it for himself and family, as his father and sister were living near, and continued to live there many years, but Mr. Norton soon removed to some place below Portland.

    The house was quite new when my mother bought it, and the paper was poor. The paper on the parlor was bought by my mother of Mr. I. F. Shores, who kept a bookstore in Portsmouth, N. H. It must have been as early as 1820, as well as I can remember. It is a very correct view of Naples and vicinity.