Photos March 2008: Charles Hathaway
Dover, New Hampshire -- 47 Central Avenue

A busy HoJo's, Dover was opened in late 1969 and enjoyed a remarkable run of prosperity Under its Orange Roof. The Restaurant was originally owned by Paul H. Dantos who was a well-connected entrepreneur from Maine. However Dantos sold Dover only about two years after he opened it in order to focus on his Maine properties. The end of it HJ days came in 1985 at about the same time that the Howard Johnson Company itself had lost its battle for survival.

Above, Below & Lower: The Restaurant was converted into a Burger King during the middle 1980s and amazingly utilized the original Nims structure as its base. Upon visiting the site, Charles Hathaway discovered a framed series of photographs in the restaurant which showed Dover's BK conversion process. Mr. Hathaway remarked that the structure is the largest Burger King that he had ever seen, and that it had multiple entrances and two huge dining rooms one of which featured a large decorative water fountain.

The following commentary is provided by Nate Coggeshall-Beyea who has extensively studied and documented the history and development of Howard Johnson's in New Hampshire:

Opened in approximately 1970, the Dover store provided HJ with its final thrust into the New Hampshire marketplace. It was strategically placed along the Spaulding Turnpike at 47 Central Avenue, targeting motorists traveling in and among various parts of the state, including the Atlantic seacoast region, the central Lakes Region, and the northern White Mountains. Designed as a standard expressway, the Spaulding Turnpike (Route 16) consisted of a four-lane divided highway that provided travelers with speedier access from Portsmouth to Rochester than the much slower old Route 16. The turnpike was built in the 1950s in an effort to both ease and bypass altogether the congestion that plagued old Route 16, which by then was an aging two-lane roadway. Old Route 16 ran directly through the downtown districts of both Dover and Rochester, making it very susceptible to gridlock.

Traffic flow had picked up tremendously on old Route 16 as a greater number of motorists were using this corridor for passage to the lakes and mountains from various points south and east. Likewise, with industrial development on the rise in southeastern New Hampshire, old Route 16 had also become the main connector for commuters heading to and from work. Old Route 16 could no longer handle these increasing demands that were being placed upon it, with backups becoming evermore commonplace. This did not bode well at all for travelers and commuters, who both required a quicker option. Thus, the need for a new superhighway through the area that could join directly with I-95 in Portsmouth soon became very evident.

Constructed as a limited access highway, the Spaulding Turnpike (new Route 16) ultimately was the solution to the area’s ills. It immediately alleviated many of the traffic problems associated with its predecessor, making road travel though the Portsmouth and Rochester stretch faster and more efficient.

The Dover HJ was situated at the very first turnpike interchange out of Portsmouth/Newington, in clear view of highway travelers. It was built on the site of the old Sawyer Mansion, once the home of a successful local mill owner who operated the nearby Cocheco Mill. Like Salem, the Dover franchise was a free-standing restaurant unit that did not include a motor lodge facility. The Dover store was well-positioned and remained a HJ for fifteen years. It became a Burger King with the original structure substantially altered during its transition, and is now unrecognizable as having once been an HJ. Burger King continues to operate a very prosperous unit there today, appealing largely to turnpike motorists in search of a quick break or a fast-food delight.


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