The Goffstown Main Street Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]
The Goffstown Main Street Historic District is located in the west central portion of the town of Goffstown, a southern New Hampshire community in Hillsborough County. The Goffstown Main Street Historic District includes an area of approximately nine acres in Goffstown village and the majority of properties in the district are commercial, institutional or religious. Some commercial structures in the Goffstown Main Street Historic District also include residential components on upper floors. In total, the Goffstown Main Street Historic District includes 23 contributing buildings, 5 buildings which are noncontributing, 1 contributing structure, 1 contributing site, 1 noncontributing site, 2 contributing objects, 1 noncontributing object and two buildings which were previously listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Almost all of resources are located along a section of Route 114, just north of the Piscataquog River. Route 114 roughly follows the river through Goffstown to Manchester at the southeast. Within the Goffstown Main Street Historic District, the portion of Route 114 running west of High Street is called North Mast Street. The section to the south, about a half mile in length, is called Main Street. The Goffstown Main Street Historic District also includes several buildings on Depot Street at the southern end of the district. Depot Street runs roughly parallel to the former New Hampshire Central Railroad line. Two buildings on Church Street, just west of Main Street, are also included.
The Goffstown Main Street Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for Community Planning and Development, and Transportation, as a well-preserved example of the historical evolution of a vernacular village center over two hundred years. Beginning in the mid-18th century with the establishment of a main road and a river crossing, the Goffstown village (or West Village as it was originally known) gradually took shape and soon became the dominant village in the town. The Main Street district has been a commercial, civic, religious and institutional hub for over two hundred years and the Goffstown Main Street Historic District is significant on the local level. Despite incremental changes to the individual resources and the addition of new buildings over the years, the Goffstown Main Street Historic District retains integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. The period of significance is c.1760 to 1956, reflecting the beginnings of the village and the National Register of Historic Places fifty year cut-off.
In particular, Main Street's development over the years is an interesting reflection of changing trends in transportation. In many ways, "all roads led" to Goffstown's Main Street business district. Samuel Stinson operated a tavern at 15 Main Street about 1810 and a later a livery stable business was located here. There is still a granite hitching post in the front yard. Another important public house, the New Hampshire Central House, also provided services for travelers passing through the village and was located on the site of the present town common (Main and Elm Streets). In time, the road once traveled by horses and stagecoaches gave way to other modes of transportation as well. The presence of the New Hampshire Central Railroad (later renamed the Manchester and North Weare Railroad), which arrived in 1850, was to have a major impact on the village and the downtown business district for more than seventy-five years. The village's two railroad depots (neither used as such today) are still located just off Main Street on Depot Street. At the turn-of-the-twentieth-century, the introduction of the electric street railway provided another transportation link for residents in the village who desired to travel to nearby Manchester for work or pleasure. Later, the automobile left its mark on the Main Street, in the form of service stations (Gulf Oil service station, 27 Main Street) and a commercial garage/automotive showroom (20 Main Street). Rail service to Goffstown finally ended in the 1930s, leaving the automobile the dominant mode of transportation. It is a story which is retold in communities all over New Hampshire but one which still has many visual reminders in Goffstown Main Street Historic District.
What is now Goffstown was first laid out as Narragansett No. 4 by the General Court of Massachusetts in 1733. Permanent settlers arrived in Goffstown in 1741 or 1742. The first concentration of settlement took place on the north bank of the Piscataquog River at Goffstown Center (the area now known as Grasmere Village), which at that time was the approximate geographic center of the town. By 1756 and probably earlier, a main road had emerged parallel to the Piscataquog River; it was formally laid out in 1761. Due to its use as a route for the transport of white pine used for masts for the British navy, the road was known as the Mast Road. The town was chartered by Governor Wentworth in 1761 and renamed Goffstown, after Col. John Goff.
In 1766 the town built a bridge to allow the Mast Road to cross the Piscataquog River. As a result a small village, known as West Village or Goffstown Village began to develop near the bridge. There was also a set of falls at this point on the river and Job Dow erected a grist mill and saw mill here sometime prior to 1770. In 1793 Dow was given a license to operate a tavern in the village and by 1794 a hotel had been established.
The water power afforded by the falls fueled the growth of the West Village in the early 19th century. Capt. John Smith established a store at the intersection of North Mast and Main Streets in 1810. A carding and fulling mill was erected on the north side of the falls by 1825 and Job Dow's complex was expanded to include a satinet textile mill.
In 1816 the inhabitants of the West Village decided to build their own meeting house. (This structure was later sold and moved to Nashua in 1845 at which time the Congregational Church was constructed.) Taverns were established throughout the town. One of the largest was the New Hampshire Central House in the West Village (which stood on the site of what is now the Town Common at Main and Elm Streets).
In 1850 the New Hampshire Central Railroad completed a line from Manchester to Oil Mills, later Riverdale, in nearby Weare. The line was later known as the Manchester and North Weare Railroad and was ultimately absorbed by the Boston and Maine Railroad. The town was served by five depots including that at Goffstown Village.
Railroad access fueled the further growth of industry in the West Village in the late-19th century. In 1868 Kendrick Kendall with Henry Hadley and Lewis Stark established a steam-powered sash and blind factory on the north side of the railroad line, west of Main Street. The factory also housed a gristmill and a circular sawmill operation. The firm of Kendall, Hadley & Co. was a village fixture into the 1920s, employing as many as seventy-five men and utilizing up to three million feet of pine lumber each year.
By the 1870s the West Village was increasingly becoming the dominant village in the town. A new Town Hall was constructed in the West Village in 1869, superseding an earlier structure in Grasmere. The Gothic Revival St. Matthew's Episcopal Church at 5 North Mast Street was constructed in 1868. The district schoolhouses were consolidated into the central White School in 1874. The manufacturing complex known as the Bobbin Shop was first constructed in about 1875 south of the commercial center on the south side of the Piscataquog River. By the early 20th century the F.S. Gordon Bobbin Shop had become the area's largest employer. The village was also the center of commercial activity and included a major hotel, livery stable and several business blocks. Cosmetic improvements also spoke to the increasing importance of the West Village. The Parker family improved Capt. Smith's old store at the corner of Main and N. Mast Streets (4 Main Street) with the addition of a "modern" mansard roof. The Sargent Block at 3 Church Street was erected in 1888. A new railroad depot was built in a vernacular mode c.1880 at 10 Depot Street with the older depot converted to use as a freight station. Grocers Herbert Poore and William Colby constructed a mansard-roofed commercial block at 23 Main Street on the east side of Main Street in 1895. As was common a fraternal organization, in this case the Masons, utilized an upper story.
The Rogers Free Public Library was established in 1888. In 1890 the Congregational Church at 10 Main Street was rebuilt according to plans by Manchester architect William Butterfield. Construction of the Queen Anne style Second Methodist Episcopal Church (18 North Mast Street) at the corner of North Mast and Summer Streets was begun in 1889 and the church was dedicated in 1890.
The twentieth century brought various changes to the village. In 1900 an electric street railway was built between Manchester and Goffstown. Initially it was completed to a point south of the Main Street bridge; the following year it was extended northward across the river to the corner of North Mast and Main Streets. In 1907 the Town established a town common and the Goffstown Memorial Library at 2 High Street was constructed in 1909, designed by H.M. Francis of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. In 1916 a Civil War Monument was erected on the town common. A large and modern high school building was constructed in the village in 1925. In 1937 the Town Hall was destroyed by fire although a new Town Hall (16 Main Street) was not constructed until 1947 owing to the economic uncertainties of the Depression and World War II. The influence of the automobile was also increasingly apparent. Charles Barnard built a combination garage/automobile showroom on the west side of Main Street (20 Main Street) in 1919. Rail service to Milford from Goffstown was discontinued in 1929, the line to New Boston ended in 1931 and passenger service on the North Weare line ended in 1939 after the flood. In 1937 buses replaced the discontinued electric street railway service between the village and Manchester. Freight service beyond Goffstown terminated the following year. In 1945 Warren Marshall purchased the two-family residence at 27 Main Street and converted it to a Gulf Oil service station.
In 1995 and 1996, two properties in the downtown, the Goffstown Public Library at 2 High Street and the Congregational Church at 10 Main Street were listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places. An addition sympathetic to the historic library was completed in 1997 and in 2003 St. Matthew's Church erected a new parsonage which echoes many of the details on the adjacent church. In 1999 Town Meeting approved funding for the Main Street program and shortly after the New Hampshire Main Street Program accepted Goffstown's application as one of three new Main Street programs for 1999. The town common was rededicated in 1999 after extensive improvements. Over two hundred years after its establishment, Goffstown Village remains the focus of civic, religious and commercial activity in the town and a source of local pride.
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Goffstown Historic District Commission. A Walking Tour of Goffstown, NH. Goffstown: 1995.
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Wallace, R. Stuart, Ph.D. & Lisa B. Mausolf. New Hampshire Railroads: Historic Context Statement. Prepared for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, April 2001. On file at the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, Concord.
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‡Lisa Mausolf, consultant, Town of Goffstown, Goffstown Main Street Historic District, nomination document, 2006, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Church Street • Depot Street • Elm Street • High Street • Main Street • North Mast Street • Route 114 • Route 13