The core of the Lamie’s facility is a home that was built in 1740, according to historical records. In 1760, the building was acquired by the Lane family, benefactors of the town of Hampton, and it remained in their possession for four generations, until 1911.
The Lane’s involvement in Hampton was extensive and can still be seen and felt today. The Lane Block Building sits across Lafayette Road from Lamie’s; the Lane Memorial Library was built early this century and added to in 1985 with a donation from a Lane family descendant. The Charles H. Lane Fund has benefited the children and churches of Hampton New Hampshire for several decades.
This reputation has made Lamie’s a frequent stop for all types of visitors to the New England area. The tavern has become a tradition in the campaigning of nearly every significant Presidential candidate in years past, and Lamie’s has hosted more than just candidates. Thanksgiving of 1963 brought President and Mrs. Dwight Eisenhower, along with their son John and his family, to Lamie’s for two nights while grandson, David, was a student at Philips Exeter Academy. A personal note from the President expresses the sentiments of Lamie’s visitors for decades:
The original Old Salt, meaning “old sailor,” was a guest house on J Street in Hampton Beach. In 1976 the guesthouse was purchased and named by Nancy Higgins, who with her family had spent many summers in Hampton. Nancy had decided to settle here permanently. Later, in 1986 a small restaurant known as The Corona House, located at 38 Ocean Blvd was purchased by Nancy and renamed The Old Salt Eating and Drinking Place.
Nancy contracted her two sons, Joe and Mike, who were both working at restaurants in Massachusetts and they came to Hampton Beach to help their mother and family friend, Ken Fair, set up the restaurant. The following year Nancy’s daughter Kathi, upon completion of her degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, joined the budding family business.
Together the Higgins family established a successful beachside restaurant known for its great food and comfortable atmosphere. Every summer night the restaurant and lounge would be bustling with tourists, many of who returned year after year. When the summer season ended, the locals reclaimed the beach and the familiar faces of the “regulars” would be seen at The Old Salt once again. Even the staff was loyal, working for the family for many years.
On June 16, 1999 tragedy struck The Old Salt’s family and friends. A fire that began on the stairs of the building next door quickly spread and eventually claimed three buildings and numerous businesses. Fortunately no lives were lost, but it did mean an abrupt end to The Old Salt.
The family immediately rebounded and just two weeks after the devastating fire opened for business at The Whales Tale, located in the Hampton Beach Casino complex. On February 21, 2001 the family purchased Lamie’s Inn located in Downtown Hampton. The Inn’s rich history seemed the perfect setting for The Old Salt Eating and Drinking Place. With much anticipation, the restaurant opened for business March 28, 2001.
For almost 6 years, the Higgins family worked together to run Lamie’s Inn and The Old Salt Restaurant. Sadly, Nancy passed away in September of 2007. She will be remembered with great affection for her warm hospitality and outstanding service to the Hampton community and visitors from all over. Her family continues the business with the same passion for value and integrity that she possessed.
Over the years the family has grown considerably; Joe’s wife, Karen, Mike’s wife, Liz, and Kathi’s husband, Lee, help run the family business. Nancy’s seven grandchildren; Tanya, Katrina, Morgan, Karsan, Jake, Andrew and Garrett are all involved as well! Stay tuned as the family continues to grow and the next generation of Higgins continues the legacy that their grandmother began.