Concord coach to be displayed in city’s downtown


Monitor staff

Published: 08-19-2023 6:57 PM

The moment Stephen Duprey laid eyes on the iconic Concord Coach at the Conway New Hampshire Bicentennial parade, he was transported back to the rugged charm of old westerns.

Looking back on the encounter as a 12-year-old, Duprey said, “It looked like just every one (coach) that you ever saw in a western television (show) or the movies.”

Ever since, Duprey, a Concord resident and property developer, has had a profound interest in the historic red coaches that became the preferred mode of transportation in the 19th century.

Now Duprey’s vision is to exhibit the Concord Coach crafted by local manufacturers Lewis Abbot and J. Stephens Downing back in 1827 right in the heart of downtown Concord for the public to view.

“It’s sort of almost shameful that the city that was famous around the country for Concord Coaches has no place for somebody on a weekend that could go see one,” said Duprey, who said you can learn more about the history of Concord Coaches in museums across the country than you can in the state’s capital.

The city council on Monday approved Duprey Company LLC to build a structure to display the Abbot-Downing Concord Coach on South Main Street and appropriated $100,000 to support the project.

“I have long been an advocate that we should have a coach somewhere for the public to see, and the city has been very supportive,” said Duprey.

The exhibit is expected to be located between the buildings at 45 South Main Street, which houses Gibson’s Bookstore, and 49 South Main Street, where the League of N.H. Craftsmen headquarters and the Chamber of Commerce office are situated.

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The estimated total development cost of the project is approximately $200,000-$250,000.

The planned structure, designed as a glass enclosure, will span dimensions of approximately 12 feet in width, 20 feet in length and 15 feet in height to accommodate a museum-quality replica of the historic Concord Coach, owned by Duprey.

Duprey purchased a replica from his friend, Sutton Marshall and his wife, Margaret, who are collectors of Abbot-Downing coaches. The coach is in storage at one of his Concord properties.

The enclosure will feature climate control technology and solar-shaded glass panels to ensure safe preservation.

Of the original 150 coaches, 21 remain in New Hampshire today, according to the Abbot-Downing Historical Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and educating the public about the Concord Coach’s pivotal role in American history.

On Aug 24, one of the coaches, Concord Coach #80, owned by Concord Group Insurance, will find a new home under the care of the Abbot-Downing Historical Society as the company has moved to Bedford from Concord.

While Duprey anticipates that obtaining the necessary permits might extend until the year’s end, he remains optimistic that the project will serve as a tribute to the city’s rich manufacturing history.

“I think people today forget what a hub of manufacturing Concord, New Hampshire, was in the 1800s,” said Duprey. “Concord opened the westward expansion in the United States and settled the West.”