Touch of Nostalgia
Tracy Cook Wagoner
by mountains, gracefully lined with rivers and dotted with lakes and ponds,
the Monadnock Region has captured in its midst, the nostalgia of years
amongst the security of the land are towns and villages where historic
town halls and meeting houses continue to echo the voices of town meetings
and resound to the beat of square, contra and line dancing.
the Monadnock Region, folks picnic on emerald green commons flanked with
white steepled churches and walk down streets lined with buildings dating
to an era past. Even the wildlife, moose, deer, fox, coyote, wild turkey
and bear, seem oblivious to the urbanized world which resides just over
the area and rising 3,165 feet above sea level is Mt. Monadnock, the most
climbed mountain in the world without vehicular access. Under the protection
of Monadnock State Park, more than 40 miles of trails wind across the mountain's
landscape. Majestic stone walls remain as the only boundary sign of the
farm pastures which once covered this forested land.
for the outdoor lover, the Monadnock Region abounds with year-round recreational
possibilities, not just on Monadnock, but on many other mountains in the
area as well.
Mountain, Crotched Mountain and Pack Monadnock along with their smaller
neighbors, Bald Mountain in Hancock, Gap Mountain in Jaffrey and Pitcher
Mountain in Stoddard are covered with miles of trails for walking, hiking,
mountain biking and cross-country skiing. The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway
connects Mt. Monadnock and Mt. Sunapee and traverses the region, as do
the Metacomet and Wapack Trails. Numerous dirt roads and old carriage lanes
provide additional terrain for recreating.
cross-country trails are found in many varied locations including Windblown
in New Ipswich and Temple Mountain in Temple, which also provides downhill
skiing. Sargent Camp in Peterborough, and Woodbound Inn in Jaffrey provide
additional ski touring terrain.
Monadnock Region is blessed with thousands of acres of protected land.
In addition to Monadnock State Park, fishing, camping and snowmobiling
can be enjoyed in Greenfield State Park. Other state parks
the area include Miller, Pisgah, Rhododendron, as well as the preserved
lands of Annett State Forest, Fox State Forest and Shieling Forest in Peterborough.
Numerous ponds and lakes offer sanctuary to boaters, fishermen and folks
wishing a refreshing swim.
events are well repre-sented in The Monadnock Area. Providing entertainment
and an outlet for those of you who like to perform, community theatres
are found in Peterborough, Francestown and Antrim. Professional summer
theater is offered by the Peterborough Players in Peterborough and in Milford
at The American Stage Festival. Children may not only perform, but enjoy
performances by their peers at Andy's Summer Playhouse in Wilton.
of excellent cultural performances are sponsored by Franklin Pierce College
in Rindge and Keene State College in neighboring Keene. If you enjoy the
visual arts, the area easily fulfills these requirements as well. Numerous
galleries display local crafts and art work and The Sharon Arts Center
not only exhibits the art work and crafts of local artists, but additionally
offers courses and lectures.
and intellectual stimulation is found in the programs of The Monadnock
Summer Lyceum in Peterborough and The Amos Fortune Forum in Jaffrey.
hills of Monadnock do indeed resound with the sound of music. The Temple
Band, founded in 1799, is this country's oldest continuously performing
town band. Blues music pours from The Rynborn in Antrim, and Del Rossi's
in Dublin hosts a variety of musical performers.
music is also abundant. The internationally acclaimed Apple Hill Chamber
Players present a variety of programs. Professional performers join together
at The Monadnock Music series for concerts of chamber music, symphony and
opera. And The Monadnock Chorus, which has entertained audiences since
the 1960's, has traveled internationally to share the music of its talented
The Monadnock Area has a rich cultural climate and an innate natural beauty,
it is the historic towns and villages of the Monadnock Region which continue
to provide a quiet solace for the visitor and resident alike. Though each
town has encountered vast growth and change, the quality of life in this
sequestered corner of New England remains one of quiet nurturing. As did
their predecessors, residents of
town foster a sense of community which extends to neighboring towns.
Abenakis, Native Americans of the Algonquin tribe, were the first to call
the region home. By the 1600's pioneers began to settle the area and faced
the challenges of weather and uncharted land with a determination inherent
to New Englanders.
1760, Peterborough became the first town to be incorporated in the region.
By the turn of the nineteenth century, Peterborough was a prosperous mill
town producing lumber, paper, textiles and baskets and was home to the
first mill to weave cloth mechanically.
1824, the building which is now the Unitarian church was erected and a
few years later in 1833, the citizens of Peterborough built the first free
library in this country to be supported by taxation. The offices
BYTE, the world famous computer magazine published by McGraw Hill, reside
in the building which in the 1800's housed another prominent town business,
The American Guernsey Cattle Club. The MacDowell Colony, dating to 1908,
remains a refuge for writers, artists and composers. Built in 1918, the
Peterborough Town House was patterned after Boston's Faneuil Hall, and
the lovely All Saints Church was constructed of Peterborough granite in
Peterborough is the second largest town in the area and remains a commercial
and cultural hub. The town provides an extensive recreational department
for all ages and residents are active in civic and community organizations.
Monadnock Community Hospital serves area residents with medical and related
south of Peterborough, the village of New Ipswich was incorporated in 1762
and was the site of the original mills for cording, spinning and the weaving
of cotton and wool. In 1810 the Wilder Chair Factory was renown for the
production of spindle back, wooden seated chairs with more than 40 designs.
Built during this same period, The Barrett House stands as a prime example
of Federalist architecture. The Georgian and Colonial architecture of New
Ipswich remains an attraction for visitors to the area.
which has one of the oldest town landfills converted to a recycling center
in the state, was also incorporated in 1762. Located on the banks of the
Souhegan river, residents often watch films in the historic town hall.
Just outside of Wilton and listed in The National Register, Frye's Measure
Mill offers tours, museum areas and a gift shop where browsers can buy
hand forged ironware, reproductions of colonial tinware, wood products
and many other mementos of yesteryear.
was a busy year with the incorporation of three towns, Temple, Rindge and
the quaint and secluded village of Mason, once the home of our nation's
symbolic relative, 1812 war veteran "Uncle Sam".
lacked the water power necessary for mills but in the late 1700's became
known for its glass works. The hand blown Temple glass is now considered
to be quite rare. Temple is home to the oldest
band in the country.
a popular vacation spot with numerous lakes and ponds, is also an educational
center. Franklin Pierce College welcomes the public to its musical, theatrical
and cultural events. The Cathedral Of The Pines, an inter-denominational
outdoor shrine, attracts thousands of visitors a year.
at 1,493 feet above sea level, the tiny village of Dublin was incorporated
in 1771. Named after Dublin, Ireland, the area has always attracted writers,
artists and vacationers to a region where Mt. Monadnock reflects its image
onto the pristine waters of Dublin Lake.
guard in the center of Dublin is a historic granite structure housing the
"oldest public library in the United States supported by private funds."
Two publications which portray the true essence of New England, "Yankee
Magazine" and "The Old Farmers Almanac" are published from the village
next year, Francestown, a village of equal charm to Dublin, was incorporated.
The quarries of Francestown once supplied New England with soap stone used
for sinks, stoves, hearths, mantels and for other home and industrial purposes.
Today meeting houses dating from 1773 and 1801 stand among the lovely Federal
the northernmost town in the region, was the birthplace of the 14th president,
Franklin Pierce. Though the first area settled, Hillsborough was not incorporated
until 1772. During this period, the mill town produced wool, cotton, hosiery
now the largest town in the area and Fitzwilliam, renown for its town common
and antique shops, were incorporated in 1773.
considers itself the home of Mt Monadnock and the views of the mountain
west of the town are a graphic illustration of why. Jaffrey is a thriving
economic and business center with the grand historic charm of two hundred
year old meeting houses and a grist mill turned textile factory which is
listed in the National Historic Register.
with its steepled town hall and stately Fitzwilliam Inn, was in the 1800's
one of the busiest rock quarrying centers in New Hampshire. 43 of the then
250 residents of Fitzwilliam died fighting in the War of Independence.
the early 1700's, Scots who had migrated from Ireland settled in Antrim.
The town was not incorporated until 1777, but maintained the original name
from Antrim, Ireland. The former mill town is a haven for water recreation,
hiking and cross-country skiing.
for John Hancock, the first governor of Massachusetts and signer of The
Declaration of Independence, Hancock was incorporated in 1779. The Town
Meeting House, which now houses a church and pre-school, is said to have
a bell cast by Paul Revere. The picturesque town is the home of The Hancock
Inn, a wayside for weary travelers and hungry folks for more than two hundred
years. In Hancock one can pick apples, cut a Christmas tree or visit the
Harris Conservation Center.
as part of Peterborough, the tiny community of Sharon was incorporated
in 1791. Once known as Sliptown, lumbering and farming were the occupations
of the earliest settlers. Now primarily residential, town meetings are
held in a one room school house built in 1833. The Sharon Arts Center,
showcasing and selling works of local artists and craftsmen, is located
the historic town center of Greenfield, incorporated in 1791, stands the
oldest original meeting house which served both church and state. Named
for the fertile land encased between two mountains, Greenfield is a year-round
recreational area with Greenfield State Park and its clear Otter Lake.
Greenfield's Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center is renown for its
educational, rehabilitative and therapeutic programs.
1815, the village of Troy was incorporated. The Troy Blanket Mills was
the major industry of a town now noted for its picturesque village green.
Today, the Troy Mills produces a variety of products including textiles
part of Hancock, the mill town of Bennington was incorporated in 1842 and
named to commemorate the Revolutionary War Battle of Bennington, Vermont.
The town's heritage lives on at The Monadnock Paper Mills, the oldest continually
operating mill of its kind in the United States, which now produces speciality
on the banks of Nubanusit Pond, represents one of the best preserved water-powered
New England mill towns. A favorite of painters and photographers, the entire
town center is a National Historic Landmark. Settled in the mid-1700's,
Harrisville was not incorporated until 1870, making the town one of the
youngest in the area. Today, Harrisville Designs manufactures looms and
runs a weaving school.
youngest town in the area is Greenville, incorporated in 1872. This community,
situated close to the Massachusetts border, sports a town center whose
many historic residences are clustered on the hillside.
and every town in the Monadnock Region shares a special piece of history.
Add the quintessential New England beauty, recreational resources, cultural,
entertainment and employment opportunities, it is easy to see why the "quiet
corner" is a special area to live or visit. An easy province to call home,
once you "experience" the region, you may never want to leave.
Peterborough native and resident, Tracy Cook Wagoner is a freelance writer