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Londonderry Town

Londonderry Town Hall is located at 268B Mammouth Road, Londonderry, NH 03053; phone: 603-432-1100.

Beginnings [1]

The visual past, in many ways, still reveals what is New England. One can observe in the countryside the town's agricultural beginnings: there are cellar holes of farm buildings, stonewalls that run through woods, across open fields and wetlands. Some new homeowners, who look carefully, can see where their house lot was once part of a working farm's pasture, woodlot or field. Barns of all sizes and shapes still dot the landscape. Some majestic maples, pines and knarled oaks still grace Londonderry. One can still hear the sounds of crowing roosters, neighing horses, gurgling brooks, splashing ducks, the trill of songbirds, musical spring peepers, the crunch of early apples; and the smells of sweet grass, new mown hay, fertilizer for fields, fresh turned earth, steam from bubbling maple syrup, the fragrance of the lilac and apple blossom, fresh picked strawberries, the cooling aroma of a homemade apple pie.

The first inland settlers to come to Londonderry were the Scots-Irish Presbyterians who emigrated from Londonderry, Ireland in 1718 seeking religious freedom. They built their first meeting house on a hill in what we now know as East Derry. The area was known as Nutfield due to the profusion of butternuts, black walnuts, acorns, hickory and chestnut. All still remain except the chestnut which was killed by a blight in the 1920s. In 1722, Nutfield was incorporated as the Town of Londonderry.

These rugged, hardworking, educated newcomers built log homes, a meeting house, a school, saw mills, and grist mills. They planted potatoes, hunted deer and wild turkey, and fished the ponds, streams and the Merrimack River. Flax growing and processing became a cottage industry with the women spinning and the men weaving the flax into fine Londonderry linen. It is said that both President George Washington and President Thomas Jefferson wore shirts made from the Londonderry linen.

Roads in Londonderry at this time were dirt and sometimes followed Indian trails to places like the Amoskeag Falls where Indians taught these settlers fishing skills. Transportation in the southern part of Londonderry used the winding Dunstable Path for horse and buggy trips to Derry or Nashua. In the late 1800s, Lithia Springs was discovered along this road. The lithium cured all sorts of ailments—so the advertisements said! A thriving business of shipping this water in barrels by wagon and teams of horses developed. When this route became Route 102, life changed. What one knows as Buttrick Road and Old Nashua Road were once part of the main road between Derry and Nashua.

Mammoth Road, the main north and south stagecoach road, was improved in 1831. It would carry people and items from Lowell to Concord for two dollars. In 1849 the Manchester to Lawrence Railroad came through the North Village. During this time, the Village was the place for business and community gatherings in Londonderry. The large Annis Grain and Lumber Company thrived and the train increased the marketing of milk and cream from the dairy herds, the chicken and eggs from the numerous chicken farms, extra vegetables and fruits from the gardens, and lumber and grain. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln, not yet president of the United States, traveled through the village on this line on his way to a speech in Concord.

In 1907, electricity came to town. In the following years, an electric car line traveling from Derry to Manchester was established and went through the North Village. On a portion of this line, the Cohas Spring Water, founded by Roswell Annis in the early 1900s, was a thriving business and tourist attraction along the Little Cohas Brook. It was nestled in a thousand acres of beautiful woods west of the North Village. The tall Annis brick chimney and a pathway along the railroad and electric car bed is all that remains of its surging business past.

Along the mid-point of Mammoth Road the town common developed as a place for community gathering in the early 1800s. The sugar maple trees were planted and marked by a small plaque in memory of the early Grange #44 members. Monuments were installed and dedicated at the town common for the Civil War, World War I, the Revolutionary War, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and the tragedy of 9/11/2001. Celebrations on the common include Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Old Home Days, the 250th Anniversary Celebration in 1969 and another in 1972, religious services, Leach Library programs, graduations, weddings, antique fairs, picnics, 4th grade school history tours, Boys and Girls Scout activities, conservation programs and Concerts on the Common. The Common and the trees around it are a Historic District surrounded by the 1837 Presbyterian Church, the old Town Hall (the Lions' Hall) with the 1845 front addition and the Presbyterian Morrison Meeting House (1769) in the rear, the United Methodist Church (1856), and lastly, the Grange built in 1909. The former United Methodist Parsonage and the former Presbyterian Parsonage sit side by side on West Pillsbury Road (Church Street). This area around the common is included in the Apple Way pamphlet (Apple way is a New Hampshire designated scenic byway).

Notable dates in Londonderry History

  • In 1722, Nutfield was incorporated as the Town of Londonderry.
  • The original area of Londonderry also included Windham, which in 1740 became its own town.
  • In 1827 Londonderry was divided into two towns: the eastern section became the present Derry and the western section held the name Londonderry.
  • In 1875, a "police officer" was appointed by the selectmen.
  • In 1947, Central School, now Matthew Thornton School, was built—doing away with one and two room school houses.
  • In 1952, the Londonderry Volunteer Fire Department was formed. Before this time, the Town was protected by twenty-nine fire extinguishers in various places.
  • The coming of Interstate 93 in 1963, or The Alan Shephard Highway, opened this sleepy, rural town into a Boston bedroom community.

  1. Marilyn Ham, Londonderry Town Historian, A Brief History of Londonderry, contained in 2004 Master Plan,, accessed February, 2013.

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