The Second Advent Campmeeting held its first meeting on September 7, 1863 on land at Alton Bay overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee. This land was leased from the Boston and Maine Railroad and later purchased. The first participants lived in tents.
The Alton Bay Campmeeting Association was incorporated in 1876. Over the years, a large tabernacle, a central kitchen and bakery were built. An ice house was located on Back Bay to store ice cut each winter for the summer use of the campers. The Campground continued to grow and prosper with summer Camp Meetings conferences and retreats for young people.
By 1900, approximately ten thousand Worshippers attended each summer, and over 250 tents covered the area. Wooden benches were added to a grove of trees to provide a natural amphitheater. Small houses replaced the tents as people waited for the "Second Advent." These houses were sometimes only a foot or so apart, as they occupied approximately the land taken by a large tent.
The Advent Christian Campground, located at Alton Bay, was founded in 1863. It is the oldest camp association in New England. The campground, in the early days, covered four acres of land leased from the Boston and Maine railroad. As it developed, it grew to seventy-eight acres.
In the late 1800's, most of the people staying on the campground lived in tents and held religious services in the pine grove which was located in the middle of the campground. Through the years cottages were built and at the time of the fire in 1945, there were over four hundred. Other additions to the campground, prior to the fire, were a Tabernacle, Book Store (several thousand dollars worth of Bibles, pictures, and literature were lost in the fire), Bakery, Boarding House, and Store. The Tabernacle, and Book Store were lost in the 1945 fire.
In 1967, the Campground suffered the loss, by fire, of the Boarding House and Store.
Considerable rebuilding since both fires will be mentioned in the following interviews.
These are the words which have characterized the feelings of thousands of people who, within the past three-quarters of a century and more, experienced the influence of Alton Bay Campmeeting, at Alton Bay, N.H.
Unique is, indeed, the adjective which is most appropriate in attempting to describe the historical facts associated with this campground. Strange as it may seem and despite the fact that the camp has operated for more than eighty-two years, the early records were not kept and only through the items in the World's Crisis (1863) announcing the beginning of the camp, and the subsequent reports, have we been able to gather the early information.
The first call for a campmeeting at Alton Bay appeared in the World's Crisis of August 4, 1863, and read as follows:
NEW HAMPSHIRE CAMPMEETING
Providence permitting, there will be a campmeeting at Alton Bay, N.H. to commence September 7, and hold over the following Sunday. Come ye servants of the living God to the New Hampshire campmeeting to feed the flock of Jesus Christ and save souls from the "second death." Further particulars herewith.
For the brethren, J. G. Smith