Calef's Field in Barrington

Jul 10, 2015 6:14 PM

Historic field in Barrington up for sale due to insurance costs

BARRINGTON - A historic field in Barrington is up for sale because it costs the Calef family too much money to insure.

Bill Calef, of Florida, explained on Friday morning that because the family allows the town to use the land for large community events, insurance companies charge them more than they can afford.

Thousands of people on the property means there is a greater risk of injury, and that is how insurance rates are determined, Calef said.

Calef explained that there are four main Calef families, which are all middle class, despite their famous country store, which has been a New Hampshire hotspot since 1869, when Mary Chesley Calef mortgaged her family farm and pledged her savings to open it.

"We have kids going to college," Calef said. "We can't absorb the costs."

Calef said that the 12-acre lot was part of the land used in 1774 by a town militia that began training for the Revolutionary Way. Over 200 men signed up to train and fight against the British.

Some of them served with General John Stark, Calef said.

The field was used for many years after as a training ground. During the War of 1812, the Army was joined by members of Barrington's militia to defend the city of Portsmouth.

The militia continued to train there through the Civil War.

In 1865, a baseball team from Dover and Barrington called the Garrison Nine was formed, and large crowds would gather at the field to watch local athletes play. The games became so popular that in 1897, over 800 fans turned out to see a team beat a Boston squad by a score of 9 to 1, Calef said.

From 1934 to 1940, a successful semi-pro team called the Barrington Orioles considered the baseball field home.

(A poster from one of the baseball games played on the historic Calef's Field. Courtesy Photo)

"For the last 160 years, members of the Calef family have offered the Parade ground for use by various events, organizations and for town functions," Calef said.

Family members say general upkeep and taxes also played into their decision to sell the commercial plot.

Once a fair market value is determined, the land will be offered to the town at a discounted price, Calef said.

Follow Kimberley Haas on Twitter @KHaasNH1.


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