Rochester City

Strafford County, New Hampshire

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Rochester City Hall is located at 31 Wakefield Street, Rochester, NH 03867.
Phone: 603-335-7500.

Richard Hays House


Rochester [†], originally called Norway Plains, was settled in 1728 and was named for the Earl of Rochester (Lawrence Hyde) who was the brother-in-law of King James II. With three rivers, Rochester was the perfect place for farming and future industrial growth. In the 1800's, the establishment of mills for wool and shoe factories along the river made Rochester a major industrial center. Rochester became incorporated as a City in 1891 and had, at one point, four railroads running through the town.

In the first half of the 1900's, Rochester had two pronounced ethnic populations of Irish and French Canadian Americans. "Irish Town" was located by the Common and Charles St, and "French Town" was located by the fairgrounds and Lafayette Street. The result of the competition between these two groups is still evident today in the lack of a bridge between Gagne Street and Myrtle Street (next to Charles Street), spanning the Cocheco River.

Agriculture in Rochester and most of New England has diminished with the advent of refrigeration and efficient shipping of produce that can be more easily grown in the Midwest. However, there are still a number of dairy farms in Rochester and The Rochester Fair still has a strong agrarian component.

Even into the 1970's and 80's, Rochester's citizens, both French and Irish, worked in the many mills. By the 1980's and 90's, many of the mills were closed. AI-Gor was razed to make room for Wal-Greens, and the Wyandotte Mills, for example, were renovated to make elderly housing.

Today, manufacturing is still a strong component of Rochester's economy, as the 1990's Rochester Times series attested. Rochester's identity used to be clearer as that of a mill town. Nowadays, that's just not so. Today, Rochester's manufacturing is comprised of smaller businesses, but many Rochester residents commute south to work. Rochester, more urban than rural, struggles to define itself, develop its culture, and keep it’s heritage. The history of the Rochester Opera House illustrates this struggle. The City hall, with the Opera House on its second floor, was built in 1908. After the Opera House closed in 1974, the community worked to renovate and reopen it in the 1990's.

Cultural Plan for Rochester, 2010,, accessed Jamuary, 2024.

Nearby Towns: Barrington Town • Farmington Town •

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