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Hanover Town


Hanover Town Hall is located at 41 South Main Street, Hanover, NH 03755; phone: 603-643-0701.

Hanover New Hampshire claimed the #6 spot on CNN Money Magazine's 2011 Best Places to Live, a list of America's Best Small Towns.

Beginnings [1]

Originally chartered in 1761, Hanover was selected as the home of Dartmouth College in 1769. The College has been influential in establishing an identity for the Town and also in its development as a cultural and employment center. The focus of commercial growth in the town soon shifted from Mill Village (later known as Etna) and Hanover Center to the present downtown area near the College. The arrival of the railroad to White River Junction from the south and east and the establishment of industries in Lebanon along the Mascoma River tended to focus manufacturing activity to the south of Hanover.

Hanover is a major cultural focal point for Upper Valley and North Country residents in both New Hampshire and Vermont. It is unusual to find the variety and quality of cultural activities which take place in Hanover outside of a metropolitan area. While the Hopkins Center features both performing and visual arts, the galleries at the Hood Museum now complement the exhibit space at Carpenter Hall and the Hopkins Center. The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and other small galleries show works of local artists. The excellent College and public libraries in Hanover meet the needs of both the academic and non-academic community in Hanover and surrounding towns. Lectures, films and educational programs sponsored by College groups, outdoor, political and other local groups attract people to Hanover from nearby towns. This combination of facilities and funding for the arts and high level of interest and support for cultural activities is one of Hanover's most important contributions to the Upper Valley and the broader Region beyond.

Historic Landscape and Architectural Areas

Below are some of the significant historic areas in Hanover. Some are concentrations or clusters of historic structures while others are unique for retaining their historic landscape character.

Known as Mill Village until 1884, Etna served as the center of Town affairs, hosting town meetings for 78 years during the mid-century to early 20th century. Its importance in town affairs was secured by the location of the Baptist Church on Etna Common, and Etna's location near Mink Brook which afforded a valuable power source for grist, saw and ladder mills. Home to some of Hanover's earliest settlers, modest structures, dating to the early 19th century predominate, enhanced by stone walls and culminating in the Baptist Church/Common area. The backdrop of fields and woods enclose the village. Two farms reinforce the rural flavor. Just to the north, across Etna Road is the Etna Cemetery.

The earliest center of local activity, the establishment of Hanover Center in 1761 predates the establishment of the College by eight years. Fronting the Parade Ground, is an impressive grouping of late 18th- early 19th century structures including several residences, a schoolhouse and the Congregational Church, unified by their white-clapboarded exteriors and simple lines. To the west is the First Congregational Church of Hanover in Hanover Center and south of the Church is the Hanover Center Cemetery. To the south are several early brick structures. New construction along the east side of Hanover Center Road detracts slightly from this historic landscape that should be protected through National Register and local historic district designation.

Laid out in 1896, the architecturally rich Webster Avenue area represents a cross-section of late 19th century styles, including notable architect-designed examples of the Shingle and Colonial Revival styles.

A series of early 20th century frame residences dating to the widening of the Occom Ridge road and creation of Occom Ridge in 1900. The significance of this grouping is further enhanced by the prominent placement of structures on the ridge. They are mirrored by similar types of residences on Rope Ferry Road. Rope Ferry Road now terminates at the Hanover Country Club but in the 18th century it led to the rope ferry used for crossing the Connecticut River.

Practically since its establishment in 1769, the Dartmouth College campus has been a showplace of American architecture, bearing the imprint of the visions and buildings of a variety of designers. Late 18th century buildings, many of which have been moved several times to accommodate the growth of the College, coexist with numerous Georgian Revival structures dating to the tenure of College architect Charles Rich (c. 1900) and commissions of Jens Larson who sought to create a new focus for the Campus in Baker Library. Several important structures by Ammi B. Young and fine examples of the Romanesque Revival also figure prominently on the Campus.

The South Main Street hill and Gilman Island, just south of the mouth of Mink Brook in the Connecticut River, were both known for the African-Americans that resided in the area for much of the 19th century. Many of the individuals who lived in this area were former slaves, and their homes were described as small buildings standing lengthwise and endwise to the street. Today's residential neighborhood dates back to development in the early 1920s.

Home of many early East Hanover settlers who sought the hilltops such as Hayes and Pork Hills (King Road), the Etna Highlands area today combines several early 19th century dwellings and agricultural buildings, some with spectacular vistas. The area is currently protected to a very limited degree by scenic road designation and some conservation easements.

The farmland on Huntington Hill was originally cleared by Andrew and Hezekiah Huntington who arrived about 1787. The clearing of the farmhouse affords beautiful vistas. Goodfellow Road is a designated scenic road and conservation easements protect some of the road frontage, fields and forests.

North Park Street combines handsome late 19th and early 20th century structures with a new architecturally sensitive development of housing for graduate students on the west side of the street.

  1. Town of Hanover, Master Plan, Chapter VI, Historical and Cultural Resources,, www.hanovernh.org, accessed June, 2011.
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