Amherst Village is a perfect example of a late 18th and early 19th century New England town that has transitioned into modern times while retaining its traditional grace and character. Often called the “Williamsburg of Southern New Hampshire,” Amherst’s beautiful village green, colonial-era homes, and majestic shade trees form the center of the town that draws visitors from all over the world. The land on which Amherst sits was granted by the Province of Massachusetts Bay Colony to the soldiers who had served in the Narragansett Indian Wars. These settlers began arriving in the area as early as 1735 and, by 1760, Amherst was incorporated as a town named after General Sir Jeffrey Amherst, Commander-in-Chief of the British armies in North America.
As the county seat from 1769-1864, Amherst functioned as the center of law, transportation, agriculture, and commerce for all of southern New Hampshire. Horace Greeley, one of the founders of the Republican Party and a candidate for president in 1872, was born here, and Daniel Webster gave his first speech here as a trial lawyer. Franklin Pierce, 14th president of the United States, was wed to Jane Appleton in the mansion located here on Pierce Lane. After the courts moved to Manchester and Nashua, the town became a quieter place.
Today, Amherst is a thriving, friendly town, steeped in the traditions of its history. Residents are proud of their village center, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is protected by a local historic district ordinance.
With a population of just over 11,200, Amherst remains uncrowded and true to its heritage of historic preservation and diligent planning; this attractive community has handled the accelerated growth of the area with intelligence and style. Strict zoning, excellent schools, fine town services, recreational facilities, and conservation land add to the pleasure of life in Amherst.
Annual events reflect the character of any community, and this is especially true in Amherst. The “single lighted candle aglow in every window” around the holiday season; the annual lighting of the tree on the Village Green; the September Amherst Antique Show & Sale on the Common; and celebration of Fourth of July with fireworks and a parade which attracts national, state and local politicians — all contribute to the heritage and ongoing spirit of the Town of Amherst.
For more information: www.amherstnh.gov
Serenity and open space are hallmarks of Brookline, a town of about 5,300 located just to the west of Hollis, along the Massachusetts border. Of the nearly 13,000 acres in town, over 8,000 remain undeveloped. Brookline is a typical “country” New Hampshire town with its small village center, rolling hills with granite outcroppings, and colonial-era homes tucked away among the miles of rural roadways.
However typical some might consider it, Brookline proudly claims a noteworthy history all its own. For example, from a town population of only 134 in 1775, 42 men responded to the call to arms at Lexington, Concord, Bunker Hill, and other battles of the Revolutionary War. This is a record that few New Hampshire towns can meet. Brookline was settled in 1741 and incorporated in 1769. It was originally called “Raby,” in honor of one of the English peerages held by the Wentworths, the family that governed the colony for half of the 18th century. It was reincorporated as Brookline in 1798.
Today, Brookline remains a close-knit community. Although located on peaceful country roads, residents and businesses have quick and easy access to Nashua and Massachusetts commercial and cultural centers. The town has its own elementary school (K-6) and older children ride the bus to schools in Hollis.
For more information: www.brookline.nh.us
The town of Greenville was incorporated as a town in 1872 after separating from Mason. The village was known earlier as Mason Harbor, Mason Village, and Souhegan Village.
Because of the falls in the Souhegan River, Greenville was always a manufacturing center. The Columbian Manufacturing Company was established in 1826 to make cotton and wool cloth in both Greenville and New Ipswich. Columbian is long gone, but its fine brick buildings still dominate the village, kept company by the well-kept Queen Anne-style houses on side streets.
Part of the SAU 87 Mascenic school district, Greenville K-12 students attend local schools in nearby New Ipswich.
With a population of 2100 residents, the town offers many conservation, hiking, swimming, boating and fishing areas. 200 acres of land donated by the Taft brothers to New Hampshire Fish and Game provide significant frontage on the Souhegan. It is an excellent site for fishing and wildlife observation.
For more information: www.greenvillenh.org
The best of small town New England character — historic homes, rolling fields, well-kept orchards, and stately farms – describes the Village of Hollis. A community of 7,800 residents, it is located directly west of Nashua, New Hampshire and borders the Massachusetts line. Its convenient access to major highways and the Nashua business hub make it an attractive place to live for professionals, tradespeople, and families alike.
Known as “Holles” at the time of its charter in 1746, the village was named after the Duke of Newcastle, Thomas Pelham Holles, Secretary of State of the Colonies. Hollis has always been a vibrant agricultural community, known for its corn, strawberries, dairy and poultry farms, and orchards. More than 2,000 acres remain in active agricultural use and the agrarian nature of the village has been supported by the community. Over the years, the town master plan has reflected an unwavering emphasis to preserve open space and carefully manage residential and commercial growth.
A strong interest in preservation is also evidenced by the community support for the Hollis Historic District and the common at Monument Square. More than 100 buildings have been identified as historically significant including the “Always Ready Engine House” and several Georgian and Federal style residences.
Hollis is noted for its civic and social volunteerism. The Hollis Historical Society maintains a local museum and promotes frequent educational programs. The Hollis Women’s Club organizes the Hollis Strawberry Festival and the Hollis Apple Festival which draw people from all over the region. The Colonial Garden Club is responsible for much of the civic landscaping which residents and visitors enjoy. Local churches work hand-in-hand with the community to support events and programs of all kinds.
The Hollis Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars is active in promoting commemorative, historical, and patriotic events. Many residents are active in town government. Education has been a priority for the residents of Hollis over the years.
First granted a charter in 1734 as “Salem-Canada,” the town was incorporated as Lyndeborough in 1764, named for Benjamin Lynde, Jr., a prominent Salem judge. One of the smallest of the Souhegan Valley’s townships, Lyndeborough has its open spaces, hilly terrain and breathtaking views. The center of Lyndeborough presents a picture of the past with its handful of clapboarded structures preserved essentially unchanged from their 1840’s appearance.
Lyndeborough was always an agricultural town and was well known for blueberries through the 1960s, sending hundreds of quarts of berries to the Boston markets. Later, the eastern part of town was well known for its apple production. Maple syrup is now the main crop.
With a population of 1,701 residents, the town is filled with many home-based businesses and skilled craftsmen. The town has cooperative arrangements for its high school, rescue services, and solid waste with the Town of Wilton.
For more information: www.lyndeboroughnh.us
Chartered in 1768, Mason hosts a tiny village green with fine old homes on the Massachusetts border. The inhabitants wanted to name it Sharon, but Governor Benning Wentworth named it for Captain John Mason, holder of the original grant of New Hampshire from Charles I.
Here is located the authentically restored home of Samuel Wilson, affectionately called “Uncle Sam” – the man who became the symbol of our country.
Small in population at just 1300 residents but large in area, Mason abounds in field, forest, and streams, with its Cascades considered one of the most beautiful natural sights to be found in the region. Panoramic views can be enjoyed from several of the high ridges. Mason’s one church is the center of activity, and it continues to serve as the old-time meeting house.
Mason has its own school district, SAU 89. Mason Elementary School is known for its great curriculum and small classes. Students in grades 6-12 are on tuition in the Milford, NH school district.
For more information: www.masonnh.us
Milford serves as the region’s hub of activity, with two major shopping plazas, many convenient retail centers, unique shopping and dining, auto dealerships, New England’s premier athletic complex at Hampshire Hills and the Hampshire Dome, town parks, and a regional performing arts center. But, for all its commercial and industrial activities, Milford still retains its historical small town charm. Union Square is the center and heart of Milford. The original town hall, built in 1870, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the classic “Oval” and bandstand of Union Square are surrounded by small shops and restaurants. During the summer, free concerts are held at the Emerson Park every Wednesday night, drawing residents and visitors downtown to enjoy these reminders of earlier times.
Incorporated in 1794, Milford was, at first, a farming town. As the Souhegan River was dammed, grist mills and saw mills were built and one of New Hampshire’s earliest textile mills started up in 1810. With the arrival of the railroad in the 1850’s, the granite industry boomed and the population rose to 3,700. The town became known as the “Granite Town” because its granite was used in the building of New York City skyscrapers and government buildings in Washington, D.C.
Education is a priority for Milford residents. Cultural and recreational activities are plentiful in Milford. Community programs, athletic teams, and fraternal, religious, and other community organizations are available for people of all ages to enjoy. Some of the most popular Milford annual events are organized by groups within the community, including the Pumpkin Festival and the Labor Day Parade.
With a wide variety of places to shop, to dine, to work, to reside, and to recreate, Milford is a great example of a convenient yet tradition-rich modern New England town.
For more information: www.milford.nh.gov
One of the most beautiful small villages in southern New Hampshire, Mont Vernon has remained unspoiled by modern life. It sits at an elevation of 828 feet and boasts one of the loveliest panoramic views of the New Hampshire countryside. On a clear day, you can glimpse Boston in the distance.
Settled in the mid 1700s and known as the Northwest Parish of Amherst, it later separated and was incorporated in 1803 as Mount Vernon. In 1899, the townspeople decided to change the spelling of the name to Mont Vernon “just to be different” and that has remained the official name ever since. In the 1800s, Mont Vernon’s pleasant summer climate and countryside atmosphere drew vacationers from Boston, who came to the quiet town by wagon coach. The little village then boasted of five hotels, a dance pavilion, a golf course, and several boarding houses. Today, the grand hotels have disappeared.
The center of town is the setting for the general store, library, post office, town hall, fire station, Congregational Church, and the Village School. Main Street (Route 13) runs through town and is lined with attractive homes of the Federal and Victorian periods. Distinctive new homes located in the outskirts of town are occupied primarily by professionals and business people who travel to work in the nearby cities.
Mont Vernon combines the best of both worlds: living just under twenty miles away from Nashua and Manchester, residents enjoy classic small-town ambiance plus the advantages of urban life within easy reach. Mont Vernon has become the ultimate in accessibility and convenience, as well as in comfortable country living.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1736 granted this town to some inhabitants of Ipswich, Massachusetts. In 1766, New Hampshire chartered the town. New Ipswich men answered Paul Revere’s call to the Battle of Lexington and Concord, but arrived too late to fight. Later the men participated in many battles of the Revolution, including the Battle of Bunker Hill.
New Ipswich is now a bedroom community adorned by hills and ponds. The town center along Main Street is on the National Register of Historic Places. Several fine old houses line the street, one of which is the Barrett House, a Federal-style mansion now owned by the Society for The Preservation of New England Antiquities.
Windblown Ski Touring Center is one of the main attractions in the area.
For more information: www.townofnewipswich.org
Temple is a small rural community located in the beautiful Monadnock Region of southern New Hampshire. The town was first settled by Joshua Todd in 1758 and became incorporated as a town in 1768. Its current population is estimated at 1,366 according to the 2010 census.
It is a mountainous region that includes several peaks as part of the Wapack range. Temple Mountain was once a thriving ski area and has now become a State Reservation, preserved for future generations to enjoy. Pack Monadnock and North Pack mountains also define the northernmost area of town.
History abounds here, including the site of the old Temple Glass Works which was founded in 1780. It is also home to the Temple Town Band, established in 1799 and claiming to be “America’s First Town Band”. The town center still features an iconic common with benches and trees, surrounded by old homes and historic buildings plus the ancient Village Cemetery.
Temple still offers a friendly, small town lifestyle just off the beaten path, and residents can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities in all four seasons. Temple is also home to a growing number of farms and small businesses.
For more information: www.templenh.org
Wilton is a rural town with orchards, farms, and woodlands.
Incorporated in 1762, Wilton has a quiet village center. To the east, on the banks of the Souhegan River is Wilton’s business district. The river’s abundant water supply powered the town’s early development as a mill center. Today the old mill buildings can still be seen, most in the context of modern times as many were converted for office space and other contemporary commercial and industrial uses. However, visitors can still enjoy the flavor of the 18th century when they visit Frye’s Measure Mill in the original mill center of Wilton. Today, just as in the past, it is a working mill. Shaker and colonial reproductions of firkins and other wooden measuring devices are produced for sale.
Not all industry is steeped in the town’s past. Several international companies base their operations in scenic Wilton. The compact downtown is a regional shopping destination for the smaller surrounding towns and is home to a very active downtown organization. The downtown area hosts numerous shops, quaint restaurants, and a wonderful movie theater on the second floor of the Wilton Town Hall.
The town’s children can choose from the public elementary school (R-6) and the high school shared with Lyndeborough (7-12) or can attend the private school located here, Pine Hill at High Mowing Waldorf School (K-12).
For more information: www.wiltonnh.gov