Courtesy of Beth Lavertue
Dr. J. A. Greene, came to the Lakes Region in 1885. Although
possessed of a medical degree, the good doctor did not practice
medicine. He was independently wealthy, being one of the
heirs of the “Nervura” patent medicine fortune.
Dr. Greene was enchanted by the beauty of the Lakes Region,
and soon his brother; Dr. F. E. Greene, and his sister,
Mrs. George W. Armstrong, came to see this place he had
praised so highly. When they and their families had seen
the lovely sheet of water, which the Red Man had euphonically
named Winnipesaukee, or “Beautiful Water in a High
Place,” they knew that Dr. J.A. had been too stingy
in his description of it. Rarely has a family not born there
fallen so deeply in love with this beautiful lake.
Dr. J.A. Greene soon purchased land atop the hill on Long
Island overlooking the bridge, and built a replica of a
medieval European castle. Following this, land was purchased
on the lower end of Moultonborough Neck, where the Roxmont
Poultry Farm was established, with the doctor’s son,
Frank A. Greene, as manager.
Dr. F.E. Greene purchased the Lamprey farm on the lower
end of Long Island and in 1889 built the luxurious summer
home that still dominates those broad acres.
Mrs. George W. Armstrong and her husband purchased a large
tract of land on the western approach to Centre Harbor and
established there one of the showplaces of the Lakes Region.
Thus arrived the Greene family, and their coming was to
have a significant impact upon this section of the Granite
In 1901 Dr. Greene was elected mayor of the City of Laconia
and served in that capacity for two years.
While Dr. Greene was receiving public attention, a boat
named Carroll arrived on the scene, and was soon to become
identified with him. Carroll was brought to the lake from
upper New York State, where she had been used as a canal
boat. After a couple of seasons, during which she was used
as a party boat, she was purchased by Dr. J. A. Greene,
who had her rebuilt and changed her name to Roxmont. She
was put into regular service running from Roxmont Poultry
Farm to Lake Village, with stops at Melvin Village, Union
Wharf, Long Island, Birch Island, Jolly Island and The Weirs.
Her captain was Wilbur Lamprey and Dr. J. A., whose enjoyment
of steamboating knew no bounds, acted as engineer. When
the wharf at The Weirs would be crowded with summer visitors,
it was Dr. J.A.’s greatest delight to wipe a smear
across his forehead with an oily rag, then climb up out
of the engine room to where he could he seen, and hear the
shocked summer visitors inquire, “Is that greasy-looking
man the famous Dr. Greene?”
Levi Blake, jovial proprietor of the Island Home, a summer
hotel adjoining Dr. J. A.’s estate on Long Island,
often acted as straight man to the doctor’s rapid-fire
wit. On one occasion when Levi was “feeling poorly,
as he would have expressed it, Dr. J.A. suggested, “Why
don’t you try a bottle of Nervura, Levi?”
‘’Huh!’’ snorted Levi, “I’d
just as soon have a glass of well water.”
“It would probably do you just as much good,”
was the quick reply.
“Did you ever hear of anybody who was helped by Nervura?”
“Yes? I did,’’ answered the doctor.
‘’Who was it?” persisted Levi.
“J.A. Greene!” was the quick reply. It is perhaps
needless to say that the loudest laughter came from Levi
Increased business interests soon forced Dr. Greene to give
up his favorite hobby, so he retired from his short career
as a steamboat engineer and turned over the management of
the steamer Roxmont to his son, Frank. Business was good
enough so that by 1895 a contract was arranged with the
Boston and Maine Railroad for Roxmont to run as a feeder
line to the steamer Mt. Washington.
This arrangement lasted only a year, after which poor management
by the younger Greene caused the closing of the Roxmont
Poultry Farm and the steamer Roxmont was withdrawn from
trade. She was hauled out of the water on the shore of the
farm property. Her next appearance was to be under another
name, but more of that later.
During the 1890s many small steamers were built, but no
large steamboats had been constructed from the time Centre
Harbor was completed until 1902. At that time the final
resurgence in the steamboat business started with the decision
of Dr. J.A. Greene to rebuild Roxmont and put her back into
competition with the boats on the Melvin to Lakeport run.
He engaged Austin Seavey, a master boat-builder who later
settled at The Weirs, to rebuild and slightly remodel her.
She was rechristened Belle of the Isles and placed under
the command of one of Lake Winnipesaukee’s most dedicated
and capable steamboat men, Captain Charles Corliss. Captain
Corliss commanded Belle of the Isles during her entire career.
She was soon purchased by the Winnipesaukee Transportation
Company and continued to serve on the run between Lakeport
and Melvin Village. During the building of the large estate
of Thomas G. Plante on the slope of Ossipee Mountain, many
hundreds of Italian laborers were brought from Boston to
The Weirs by train and transported from there to Melvin
by Belle of the Isles. Following the regular passenger season
she could usually be found towing log rafts from remote
parts of the lake to Lakeport.