The signing of the Declaration of Independence was still 15 years away when, on July 4, 1761, colonists from Connecticut were granted a charter to roughly seven square miles of heavily wooded land in the Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire. The first permanent settlement was started in 1765, east of today’s Hanover, where the rushing waters of Mink Brook powered saw mills and grist mills vital to the future of this rural outpost.
Dartmouth College was chartered in December 1769, and when the college formally opened in 1770, an estimated 20 families were living in Hanover. In 1778, Hanover and several other Grafton County towns seceded from New Hampshire and were admitted to the state of Vermont. They rejoined New Hampshire in 1784. By the time of the first census in 1790, 1,380 people called Hanover their home.
The village that sprung up around Dartmouth grew and eventually replaced today’s Hanover Center as the business hub of the town. Now, Hanover is an eclectic mix of downtown businesses and restaurants centered on a traditional Main Street and the more rural villages of Etna and Hanover Center. A population that nearly doubled from 6,259 in 1950 to over 11,200 today is almost evenly split between full-time residents and Dartmouth students. Across the river, Norwich has a population of 3,414, according to the 2010 census.
Townspeople and students alike enjoy a vibrant and safe community that combines the cultural and business advantages of a city with the charms of small-town life – all in all an area of unparalleled natural beauty.