A River Runs Through It | House For Sale

Canoers and kayakers who paddle past this distinctive property are often heard to say, “There’s the most beautiful house in Exeter.”

By Yankee Magazine

Jun 18 2018


House for Sale in Exeter, New Hampshire

Photo Credit : John Mueller
House for Sale in Exeter, New Hampshire
Photo Credit : John Mueller

Standing at the river’s edge, next to the swimming ladder I put there, we own everything you can see on the other side in both directions,” said John Mueller, as we sat with him and his wife, Martha, one beautiful day this past spring at their home in Exeter, New Hampshire. We were in the dining room; on the level below us was their living room, with its wonderfully large windows looking out at dogwoods, rhododendrons, azaleas, lilacs, roses, and even a poppy garden—all leading down to the river. That’s the Exeter River, of course, stocked each year with trout by the New Hampshire Fish and Game people.

“Every morning this time of year,” said Martha, “I garden my way down there, fussing with all my plants, until I reach the swimming ladder. Then a swim. Always.”

Martha and John Mueller in the dining room of their home, part of their property’s adjoining houses: one from the 18th century, the other from the 20th.
Photo Credit : Yankee Magazine

She went on to tell us that when she and John, then living in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, first walked into this house one fine day in 2003 during a house-hunting trip in search of something closer to Southern New Hampshire University, where she works, “we were suddenly confronted with this view you’re seeing now, and we simply knew right away that this place was it. Our search was over.”

During the next 15 years, they undertook extensive restoration work, changes, and improvements on what is actually two connected houses with a common entrance: There’s one built in 1770 (two bedrooms, 1½ baths, three fireplaces, and a garage), currently being rented to a young couple for $1,650 a month (which includes water and electricity), and a comparatively new one built in the 1950s (three bedrooms, 2¾ baths, and a two-car garage), in which John and Martha live.

For both houses together on just under 1½ riverside acres, the Muellers are asking $855,000. As for the six-plus acres across the river, well, we can assume that is negotiable. Incidentally, those extra acres include two dams that once supplied power to the famous Flagg and Wiswall paper mill, which succumbed to fire in the 1870s and is no more.

For us, the highlight of the newer house is the master bedroom, once the location of a large hot tub that was surrounded on three sides by tall windows overlooking the river. “When we first saw it, it occurred to us both that maybe this was where we’d like to wake up every morning,” said Martha. So after placing a mattress on top of the hot tub and sleeping there for a couple of weeks “just to be sure,” it was good-bye to the hot tub, and they had their permanent, and most unusual, master bedroom.

We particularly loved their library, too, with its massive wall of books and a ladder for reaching the top shelves. It also has an interesting large framed photograph, one of several throughout the house, mostly interiors, taken by their only child, Elizabeth, when she was studying in faraway Myanmar. Incidentally, Elizabeth, newly married now, lives with her husband, Felo, in Rhode Island, and therein lies the reason the Muellers have decided to part with their wonderful Exeter River property. “We’d like to live near Elizabeth and Felo,” Martha explained. “We’re excited about searching for a new place—but oh how we’ll truly miss waking up here every morning.”

Exeter, New Hampshire, located just eight miles from the coast, is one of New England’s most desirable places to live. But since Yankee recently published a travel feature on it (March/April 2018), we won’t have to tell you about how Abraham Lincoln once gave speeches in the town hall, or how the oldest brass band in the country (c. 1847) will be performing there each Monday evening in July, a month that also sees the return of the town’s American Independence Festival.

So … no need to repeat all that. Right?

For more information, contact John Mueller at 603-686-6666 or

Yankee likes to mosey around and see, out of editorial curiosity, what you can turn up when you go house hunting. We have no stake in the sale whatsoever and would decline it if offered.