Some towns make you shake your head and wonder how they grew up where they did. Not so with Manchester. The 54-foot drop in the Merrimack River capable of generating 16,000 horsepower of energy pretty much guaranteed that there would be a settlement here one day. Before there was an Industrial Revolution the Pennacock Indians came here to fish for about 10,000 years. John Goffe put down stakes in 1722 and Goffe’s Town emerged on the west side of the river. On the east side a number of families arrived in the 1730s and started what became known as Derryfield.
The little village of Derryfield gained renown thanks to the exploits of John Stark, a gallant British officer during the French and Indian War and a decorated major general in George Washington’s Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Stark lived on modern day Elm Street where he died at the age of 93. When too sick to travel to meet his former comrades Stark posted a letter reminding the old freedom fighters to “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” And New Hampshire had one of the country’s most quotable mottoes.
Derryfield was mostly a wilderness in Stark’s day. That began to change when Samuel Blodgett looked at the banks of the Merrimack River in 1793. He envisioned a canal around Amoskeag Falls that would create a navigational route on the Merrimack River all the way from Concord to Boston. Blodgett used lottery funding to raise $50,000 and completed his canal in 1807. The combination of water power from the falls and safe sailing was so powerful that Blodgett lobbied to have the town name changed to Manchester, after the world’s first great industrial city in England.
The Amoskeag Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company was quickly formed but the operation was mismanaged for years until a group of Boston financiers arrived and overhauled the operation. The world had never seen anything like what the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company built. With 64 mill buildings lining both sides of the Merrimack River for one-and-a-half miles it was the largest textile manufacturing operation on the planet. The workers liked to brag that every two months Amoskeag produced enough cloth to put a band around the world. They were being modest - the yards shipped 5,000,000 yards of cloth in an average week.
The same time Amoskeag built its first mills in 1838 the company assigned 19-year old Ezekiel Albert Straw the task of laying out a new industrial city. He did his job well and rose to manager of Amoskeag before vaulting into the governor’s office for two terms in the 1870s. By that time Amoskeag had added railroad locomotives to its product line. The last mill would be built in 1915; two decades later, on Christmas Eve 1935, Amoskeag would shut down forever due to shifting economic realities. Manchester remains the dominant manufacturing city of Northern New England today with over 200 diversified manufacturing firms rather than one gargantuan operator.
One thing we will not see in our walking tour is a McDonald’s since Maurice and Richard McDonald, who were born and raised in Manchester, decided to open their pioneering hamburger stand in San Bernardino, California. Nonetheless, our explorations of the Queen City will discover what has become of teenager Ezekiel Straw’s grand plan and we will begin at a spot where the town used to hold its fireman’s muster...
Elm and Merrimack streets
This was Park Square when it was created and an artificial pond funneled fresh water to the city. The Civil War changed the future of the open space and after a monument was installed on September 11, 1879 it became Monument Square. George Keller of Hartford, Connecticut used New Hampshire granite and bronze to create a fifty-foot high column in the Gothic Revival style “in honor of the men of Manchester who gave their services in the war which preserved the Union of the States.” In 1985 the name was switched to Veterans Park in recognition of the four deadly wars of the 20th century.
STANDING ON ELM STREET FACING THE PARK, TURN LEFT AND WALK NORTH ON ELM STREET.
795 Elm Street at northeast corner of Merrimack Street
For much of the 19th century Manchester’s first and most important hotel stood on this site. The Manchester House was built by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in 1839 and this is where business leaders and politicians would sign the guest register when visiting town. In the late 1880s the building was lifted onto carts, a practice that was common in the days before electrical wiring and indoor plumbing, and moved a little ways down Merrimack Street to clear room for the new Pembroke Block. The commercial block became as much a Manchester institution as its predecessor when Joseph R. Weston and James W. Hill moved their dry goods business into the space in 1892; the Weston & Hill concern had started a decade earlier a block away. The top floors were occupied by Manchester’s Masons until 1927.
814 Elm Street
William M. Butterfield was the go-to architect in Manchester for over a quarter-century at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. Butterfield was born in Maine in 1860, the son of a carpenter and builder. He trained with his father and started his work career as a contractor but after he came to Manchester in 1881 Butterfield hung out an architect’s shingle. He shuffled through some unfruitful partnerships before settling into private practice on his own. Butterfield designed this Beaux Arts commercial block for insurancemen Gilman Clough and John M. Welch in 1903. The price tag for the light buff brick and limestone trim confection was $300,000 but the investors got their money’s worth as it was observed by The Granite Monthly that “unlike many of the new commercial structures of the day, built without effort to please architecturally, The Beacon has much to admire in this respect.” The first big tenant was the Charles A. Hoitt Company that sold carpets, stoves, furniture and home goods.
815 Elm Street
John Barnes Varick was born in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1833. His family were descendants of Colonel Richard Varick, an advisor on General George Washington’s staff and the first mayor of New York City. When he was 16 years old John came to Manchester to work in his uncle’s hardware store. By 1860, John B. Varick was the sole owner of the operation. When his son joined the business in the 1880s the company owned half this building, a new store of Elm Street, two warehouses and another store near the freight depot. J.B. Varick died in 1903 after 53 years in the hardware trade. The Classical Revival appearance of this building dates to 1914 when it was rebuilt after a fire. At that time the John B. Varick Company was New England’s largest hardware business.
844-860 Elm Street
The McQuade family apparel business started in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1862. Elias J. McQuade opened a store here in 1939 and under his son William this was the go-to destination in Manchester for a graduation suit, bridal gown or bargain in McQuade’s Basement. The downtown institution closed in 2002 and the city helped fund over $2 million in restoration funds.
City Hall Plaza
900 Elm Street
When this 275-foot office tower was completed in 1992 it was the tallest building ever constructed in New Hampshire. A quarter-century later it remains the Sky King of all of Northern New England.
Amoskeag Bank Building/Citizens Bank
875 Elm Street at southeast corner of Hanover Street
Here is the former Granite State Sky King, erected in 1913 for the Amoskeag Bank as New Hampshire’s first skyscraper. Boston architects Franklin H. Hutchins and Arthur E. French contributed the Neoclassical plans - abiding by the convention of the day to create skyscrapers as a tripartite classical column with a base (the oversized lower floors), a shaft (the unadorned central floors, save for a single balcony), and capital (the decorative upper floors and elaborate cornice). The Amoskeag Savings Bank took its first deposits in 1852 and grew into the largest banking group in New Hampshire, befitting its headquarters that loomed over the state for half a century. After a series of upheavals in the 1990s the name has been changed to Citizens Bank.
Manchester City Hall
908 Elm Street
Drawing from early American influences, the Manchester government raised a Greek Revival-styled city hall in 1841 with retail space on the first floor and municipal offices above. The paint was hardly dry, however, when the government house burned to the ground. Edward Shaw, a New Hampshire man who built his reputation as an architect in Boston, replicated the form while infusing city hall with Gothic elements, using brick and granite. The government took over the entire building in 1895 and moved the entrance from the tower to the strip along Elm Street.
TURN RIGHT ON HANOVER STREET.
18-52 Hanover Street
By the 1870s Hanover Street, across from City Hall, drew most of the big development dollars in town. No one had a grander vision for Manchester’s “second” commercial strip than Edward W. Harrington and John Butler Smith. Harrington was a former mayor who had interests in banking and real estate and Smith, who was on his way to the governor’s office, was a successful textile magnate who funneled his money into real estate. The plan was to provide retail and office space and a grand Opera House to boot; the Harrington family would own the west half of the building and Smith would control the eastern side. The goal was to prove that Manchester, with a population of 32,000, was “no second-rate business place,” as one newspaper noted. Responsibility for making the building a reality was entrusted to John Thomas Fanning. Fanning hailed from Norwich, Connecticut and was trained as a civil engineer. He became skilled in fluid mechanics and hydraulics and was brought to Manchester when he was 35 years old in 1872 to design the city’s municipal water system. Fanning segued into architecture in 1877 and gave the Harrington-Smith Block a Queen Anne Victorian flavor. The Manchester Opera House opened on January 24, 1881; the 1,265-seat stage would become the Strand Theatre in 1906. The most notable tenant moved in during 1884 when Joseph Moore brought his Manchester Union into Smith’s section of the building. The Union introduced the telegraph into the news gathering business in Manchester and installed the first web presses north of Boston. The Mirror, located next door, maintained a laser-like focus on Manchester issues, so much so that wags commented that the papers appeared to be published in two different cities. The Manchester Leader acquired the Union in 1913 and left the block in 1931. The Strand Theatre lasted until the 1970s when its guts were dismantled and replaced with apartments.
Old Post Office Block
54-72 Hanover Street
Manchester picked up its mail in several locations around town through the 1870s - City Hall, temporary quarters on Hanover Street and the Odd Fellows Hall. Adolphus Gay, a building contractor serving as mayor in 1875, pushed through a plan to build a permanent post office that included space for John B. Clarke’s Mirror and American newspaper. Working from pattern books, the Italianate block was ready by 1876. The post office shuffled on again into its own federal building in 1891, the same year that Clarke died. His sons Arthur and William continued publishing the Mirror until 1918 and then maintained a printing business here for several more years. Abraham Machinist began selling woolen goods in the building in 1909 and gradually expanded the business until the family was able to buy the block in 1946. Machinist’s Department store flourished here and became New Hampshire’s leading emporium, including opening a Nashua branch in 1965.
76-96 Hanover Street
Victor Charas, a Greek immigrant, bankrolled the building of the Athens Building in 1914 with retail shops and his star attraction, the Palace Theatre. The Palace was intended as a stage for vaudeville touring companies and a setting to screen the new motion pictures coming to cities. Opening night on April 9, 1915 featured a production of the musical comedy “A Modern Eve.” Promoters boasted that it was the only theater in New Hampshire that was “both fireproof and air-conditioned.” The live performance lasted into the late 1920s after which the Palace operated exclusively as a movie theater. Like most of its downtown cousins across America the Palace went dark in the 1960s after a period of screening “adult cinema.” After desultory duty as a warehouse, the Palace was revived with a new facade in 1974. Today it is a non-profit performing arts center with a state-of-art 880-seat auditorium and two large dance studios. Manchester, which a rich history of live theater, once boasted 22 theaters and this is last one standing.
Odd Fellows Building
83 Hanover Street
When trade unions began in England hundreds of years ago there were special organizations for common trades like blacksmiths and silversmiths and the like. But those engaged in not-so-common jobs banded together under an umbrella group known as “odd fellows.” In 19th century America the International Organization of Odd Fellows often built the most ornate lodge buildings in town. This example in Manchester dates to 1877 - the date badge refers to the organization’s charter on July 7, 1871. The Italianate design is enhanced with window hoods created by alternating bands of granite and brick. The unlucky building suffered two fires in quick succession in 1908 and 1910 that took everything but the walls.
United States Post Office
120 Hanover Street at northeast corner of Chestnut Street
This is Edward Lippincott Tilton’s block. Tilton trained in the shop of the Gilded Age’s greatest architectural firm - McKim, Mead and White of New York City. He became known as the designer of grand Beaux Arts civic buildings. Tilton’s work caught the eye of local philanthropist Frank Carpenter who brought him to Manchester in 1912 to design a library in honor of his recently passed wife, Elenora Blood Carpenter. Tilton would maintain an office in Manchester for several years and design seven buildings in the city. This was his last, completed in the year of his death, 1933. Designed in the depths of the Great Depression, Tilton’s work reflects the stripped-down classicism then in vogue for federal buildings. The building was converted into law offices in the 1980s.
New Hampshire Fire Insurance Company/Fuller Hall
156 Hanover Street at northwest corner of Pine Street
Frank Carpenter served on the board of directors of the New Hampshire Fire Insurance Company so Edward Tilton received the commission for the company’s Manchester headquarters. Tilton rarely took commercial commissions and he did not deviate from his classical playbook in its design. The facade is dominated by a portico of fluted Ionic columns. A balustrade travels the portico roofline. The much esteemed final result was chronicled in photos and plans in Architects and Builders Journal when completed in 1916. The New Hampshire Fire Insurance Company wrote its first policies in 1873; Samuel Newell Bell, Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives and president of five New Hampshire railroads, was a founder. The property was acquired by the New Hampshire Institute of Art and renovated in 2000. The branch was named for Mary Fuller Russell who donated $24 million of her family’s locomotive engine fortune to the institute.
TURN LEFT ON PINE STREET.
Manchester Historic Association Research Center
129 Amherst Street at southwest corner of Pine Street
In 1920 Edward Tilton teamed up with Alfred Morton Githens and the partnership specialized almost exclusively in libraries. Tilton wrote extensively about library architecture, beginning with a treatise on small library construction in 1907. This composition for the Manchester Historic Association in 1931 was designed to include both library and museum functions. Tilton’s local patron, Frank Carpenter, was president of the Historic Association at the time. The exterior appearance is sparse, indicative of the times, while meaning to mirror the appearance of the Carpenter Memorial Library that also faces on Victory Park. The Manchester Historic Association was formed in 1896 on the city’s 50th anniversary to preserve the past going forward.
bounded by Pine, Amherst Chestnut and Concord streets
This maple-studded greenspace was transformed from Concord Square to Victory Park after World War I. It was one of three commons envisioned by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company when it sketched out the city in 1838. The company’s first private lot was sold and developed at the corner of Chestnut and Concord streets in 1839. Planned beautification efforts went unrealized and the company sold the ground to the City Of Manchester for $1 in 1848 as a “pleasure ground.” The City indeed planted elm trees and installed walkways but otherwise did nothing to improve the appearance of the common until the 1870s. The showpiece of the park, the Winged Victory Monument, arrived in 1929. It was a granite obelisk designed by Lucien Gosselin, a local sculptor. Near the Victory Monument a smooth-faced boulder recognizes Corporal Rene Gagnon, one of six Marines who raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. Gagnon, born in Manchester of French Canadian immigrants, was two weeks short of his 20th birthday at the time.
Manchester City Library
405 Pine Street
Frank Pierce Carpenter was born in Chichester, New Hampshire in 1846 and came to Manchester after high school to work in the grain business. He was able to purchase the Amoskeag Paper Company in 1885 which led to expanded business interests in banking, insurance and railroads. His wife Elenora was the daughter of Aretas Blood, majority owner of the Manchester Locomotive Works. After her death in January 1910 Carpenter set out to build a library in her honor to give to the city. He recruited his personal architect, Edgar Allan Poe Newcomb, to work on the project with Edward Tilton. Newcomb had designed Carpenter’s showcase mansion at 1800 Elm Street and another house for his daughter. The Italian Renaissance library building features Botticino and Lastavena marble blocks raised on a foundation of Concord granite. More than 5,000 people showed up for the dedication of the Elenora Blood Carpenter Building on November 18, 1914. The free library had been started in 1854 by Mayor elect Frederick Smyth, assuming responsibility of the subscription-based Manchester Athenaeum.
New Hampshire Institute of Arts and Sciences
148 Concord Street at northeast corner of Pine Street
The Carpenter family influence on Victory Park continued two years later when Elenora’s only sibling, Emma Blood French, bankrolled the new home for the Manchester Institute of Arts and Sciences. Renowned residential architect William Gibbons Rantoul was recruited from Boston and he delivered a grand Neoclassical design for the two-story building, fronted by a circular Doric portico. The school was founded in 1898 to cultivate a learning in the arts and sciences, created from the bones of the Manchester Art Association, started in 1871, and the Manchester Electric Club. In the 1920s Fine Arts degrees were conferred for the first time. In 1997 the State of New Hampshire gave the green light to award the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and the campus has expanded around Victory Park ever since.
Cathedral of St. Joseph
145 Lowell Street at southeast corner of Pine Street
Patrick Charles Keely designed every 19th century Catholic cathedral in New England - and several hundred other churches - after he emigrated to New York City from County Tipperary, Ireland in 1842 at the age of 25. That included the Cathedral of St. Joseph, which became cathedral of the Diocese of Manchester in 1894. The congregation was started in 1869 to minister to the large number of Irish immigrants in the city. The High Victorian Gothic style features multi-colored slate roofs and ornate decorations on the buttresses and window openings.
TURN LEFT ON LOWELL STREET.
Grace Episcopal Church
106 Lowell Street at northwest corner of Pine Street
English textile workers were prime targets to fill the jobs in the Amoskeag mills and to serve their spiritual needs the first Episcopal - the Americanized version of the Church of England - services were held in Manchester on July 11, 1841. The first meetinghouse was the brick school standing at the corner of Lowell and Chestnut streets. The Amoskeag Manufacturing Company donated this site and two thousand dollars bought a building simultaneously described as “barn-like” and “in the Grecian style.” Richard Upjohn, America’s leading cheerleader for the Gothic Revival style, was subsequently employed to design a church building for the congregation and the old structure was sliced in half and moved. The current sanctuary was consecrated on December 4, 1860.
Lowell Street Grammar School/Lowell Hall
88 Lowell Street at northeast corner of Chestnut Street
That first Episcopal service of the Grace Church was held here in 1841 in the newly opened Grammar School. It was only one-story at the time which was plenty to handle the twenty or so students from all grades. A second story came along in 1847 when this became Manchester’s first high school, with an even smaller enrollment for the upper grades. Schooling for the young’uns quickly caught on, however, and the school was abandoned. After that there was some administrative duty and some classes but mostly the brick building just managed to survive through neglect. In 2007, it was saved by the New Hampshire Institute of Art to become part of a combined academic and living space with an award-winning shiny six-story aluminum addition.
TURN LEFT ON CHESTNUT STREET. TURN RIGHT ON CONCORD STREET.
72 Concord Street at northwest corner of Chestnut Street
Organizations to provide shelter and support for young women factory workers emerged in Manchester in the 1880s. In 1920, 100 charter members signed their name to the YWCA constitution. The cornerstone for this Colonial Revival headquarters was laid in 1928 after $60,000 was raised in a building fund and the estate of Mrs. Charles Hall chipped in another $150,000. Frank Carpenter retired the mortgage when the building was finished.
52 Concord Street
This building began life in 1910 as the Club Jolliet, a coalition of Franco-American businessmen. The group had formed in 1884, at a time when hundreds of such organizations flourished around New England. In addition to facilitating business, the groups sponsored musical ensembles, parades and picnics. The two date stones, 1896 and 1930, reference the Canado-Americaine Association which was founded in 1896 and purchased the building in 1930. At that time the Neoclassical facade was redesigned under the direction of architect Jean-Noel Guertin; he shifted the entrance to the center and replaced what had been Ionic pilasters with full fluted Corninthian columns. The Association-Canado-Américaine incorporated in 1897 in Manchester as a mutual benefit society. Its purpose was to facilitate “the union of Catholics of French ancestry or affinity in America and the promotion of their religious, civic, cultural, social, and economic progress” but morphed into a role of providing insurance products to its members. While headquartered here the Canado-Americaine Association boasted a membership of 16,000 in New England, Michigan and Canada and kept a library of 4,000 volumes pertaining to the the development of the French culture in North America.
TURN LEFT ON VINE STREET. AT THE END OF ONE BLOCK, IN FRONT OF YOU IS...
Union Leader Building
35 Amherst Street
Few cities the size of Manchester have a newspaper with a national reputation like the New Hampshire Union Leader. Thanks to the Granite State’s unique role in the presidential primary process the Union-Leader and its conservative leanings receive an outsized amount of publicity every four years. The paper traces its beginnings to the Manchester Daily Union that put out its first edition on March 31, 1863. The Manchester Leader was launched in 1912 as an organ for Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party and gained such traction that founder Frank Knox was able to buy out the Union and change the masthead to Union-Leader the next year. After Knox died in 1944 William Loeb acquired the property and steered its politics dramatically to the right. By the time of Loeb’s death in 1981 the Union Leader had survived as New Hampshire’s only statewide newspaper and “Manchester” was deep-sixed from the masthead. In 1931, the Union-Leader moved to this Colonial Revival building fronting on Amherst Street. The current newspaper offices are away from downtown at 100 William Loeb Drive and this building hosts the Manchester Circuit Court.
TURN RIGHT ON AMHERST STREET.
967 Elm Street at northeast corner of Amherst Street
This corner commercial block began life in 1879 as a four-story Italianate brick building. In 1908 the property was reborn as a Chicago-style high-rise with orderly fenestration and a more functional appearance. This was accomplished with steel and glass construction, courtesy of architect Chase Roy Whitcher. Whitcher also added a fifth story and installed an early Manchester elevator. At the time Whitcher, a Lisbon, New Hampshire native, was 32 years old and struggling for commissions. His work here caught the notice of Manchester developers and he would go on to design over 300 buildings in his career. Thomas Dunlap bought the wood-frame structure on this site in 1868 to house his jewelry store - it was known as “Old Ark” since it was one of the first commercial buildings erected on Elm Street. He tore it down for a new brick block, built from the plans of George W. Stevens, an Amoskeag engineer, in 1879. Former New Hampshire governor John Butler Smith bought the building in 1895 and directed the current appearance.
TURN LEFT ON ELM STREET.
913 Elm Street
Look up above the compromised lower levels to see the Romanesque Revival stylings of this 1891 Victorian block. It is noted as the birthplace of Hesser Business College that Joel Hesser began in Room 36 with seven students on June 4, 1900. Day and evening sessions taught Budget Bookkeeping, Typing and Gregg Shorthand. After more than 100 years the school rebranded as Mount Washington College, offering associates and bachelor’s degrees.
922 Elm Street at southeast corner of Stark Street
Few Manchester buildings can match this commercial block for tradition. Pearson’s Jewelers moved in during 1920 and is closing in on a century of business. And it is the home of the Ted Herbert Music School. Thaddeus Piaseczny was born in Manchester in 1915 and began his working life mucking stalls on local farms and then selling shoes in local stores. He started playing the violin at the age of eight to help rehab a broken right arm. By high school he had added the saxophone and clarinet to his repertoire and was sitting in with bands at Manchester dances. In 1935 he formed the Ted Herbert Orchestra and for the next 55 years his Big Band sound would be familiar around the Northeast and New York State. Among the acts backed by Ted Herbert were Rudy Vallee, Patti Page, Tony Bennett, and The Supremes. During World War II, Herbert served under General Douglas MacArthur in the Pacific Theater and participated in 68 combat landings. He also supplied the entertainment at two of the General’s birthday celebrations. In 1958, Herbert opened the Music Mart at this location which grew into the go-to store for instruments in the Granite State. Upstairs, the Ted Herbert Music School operated with more than 50 teachers, instructing thousands of students through the years. The Herbert family sold the Music Mart before his death at the age of 90 in 2006 but the music school trundled on under family guidance.
TURN RIGHT ON STARK STREET.
Stark Blocks No. 1-3
north side of Stark Street beginning at Canal Street
The Amoskeag Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company incorporated in 1810 on the west bank of the Merrimack River. The initial venture was a flop but after several ownership changes a consortium of Boston merchants known as the Boston Associates turned things around. These investors had been in charge of the first cotton mill in the United States to convert raw cotton into finished cloth. In 1821 the Boston group bought up farmland further south along the Merrimack River and started America’s first textile city in Lowell, Massachusetts.
So in 1831 the reorganized Amoskeag Manufacturing Company acquired 1500 acres of farmland east of the Merrimack River and set about to replicate the ideas that had been pioneered in Lowell. An entire city, planned to be conducive to work and relaxation, was platted by 1838. Elm Street was the main thoroughfare and commercial artery; to the west would be investment lots for private houses, land to donate to churches and plots for public buildings. On the east side, between Elm Street and the mills would be the workers’ housing. Most of the housing stock would be constructed between 1838 and 1857. Of the 44 tenement blocks eventually constructed nearly half survive today. The first blocks in this area all contained three units, later efforts would contain up to six. The vernacular Greek Revival architecture was provided by Samuel Shepard.
As it had done in Lowell the Amoskeag management expected to sell the housing to employees but the Panic of 1837 financial crisis forced the corporation to retain ownership. Rents were low and suitable to the resources of the young women who were recruited off local farms to work in the mills. Amoskeag provided all maintenance and updated the properties regularly - none of the buildings retain their original appearance. Amoskeag continued to construct tenement blocks into the 1900s but the business was in decline due to competition from southern mills. Amoskeag Manufacturing Company shut down its operation in 1935 and the mills and boarding houses were auctioned off to local interests. The properties that were rehabilitated on these blocks represent the most extensive and intact examples of pre-1850 company housing in the United States.
AT THE END OF STARK STREET, ACROSS CANAL STREET IS...
Amoskeag Mills No. 1
300 Bedford Street
This mill was the foundation for the largest cotton textile manufacturing plant in the world. The first two mills and eight housing blocks in the complex were actually constructed in 1838 and 1839 for the Stark Manufacturing Company, a textile operation that featured overlapping stockholders with Amoskeag. At the time the entire town of Manchester which you have walked through was little more than a wilderness of scrub woods and rough cropland. In 1911 the floor space available in the Amoskeag mill complex covered 137 acres. There were 30 water turbines, 12 steam engines and 5 steam turbines to power 24,200 looms and 662,000 spindles. More than 17,000 people picked up a paycheck here. After the mills shuttered local businessmen recognized that such a resource could not simply be bulldozed out of existence and Amoskeag Industries was formed to repurpose many of the mill buildings as office space, classrooms, art studios and restaurants. The Millyard Museum is housed in Mill No. 3. No. 1 stayed in the manufacturing game into the 1970s as a shoe factory. It has since received a makeover into luxury loft apartments.
TURN LEFT ON CANAL STREET. TURN LEFT ON MARKET STREET.
Amoskeag Block No. 4
117-123 Market Street
Walking up Market Street you can see the high parapet of the tenement on the right, indicative of the early Amoskeag housing blocks. The dormers up top were 1860s additions made during the first round of improvements by the company to its housing stock. The simple Greek Revival entranceway is a replica that has been added to many of the blocks to approximate their original appearance.
Hillsborough County Court House/City Hall Annex
Market Street at City Hall Plaza
This was one of the last designs busy Manchester architect William Butterfield did in the city. He provided a restrained Classical Revival facade with a projecting central block, executed in red brick. The cornice is denticulated which carries over into the pediment that in turn replicates the theme of the entranceway below. The 1904 court house was appropriated by the city in 1971 and incorporated into City Hall next door. You can walk into the plaza to see the modern work done behind the court house facade.
TURN RIGHT ON FRANKLIN STREET.
323 Franklin Street at Northwest corner of Merrimack Street
In the 1920s many mid-size towns thought they needed a first class hotel to give off that “big city” aura to impress businessmen, investors and everyday visitors. In most places local businessmen banded together to raise the money for such a venture. In Manchester, Frank Carpenter spearheaded the project. Boston architects Franklin H. Hutchins and Arthur E. French were brought back to Manchester and delivered an elegant Georgian Revival design for the 11-story guest house. Carpenter had actually directed his go-to architect, Edward Tilton, to draw up designs for the hotel back in 1913 but by the time the project bloomed the drawings were abandoned and the switch to Hutchins and French made. At its opening in 1923 the Hotel Carpenter was trumpeted as the “finest, largest and most modern fireproof hotel in New Hampshire.” Radio and circulating ice water would be available in every room and Manchester’s biggest events were celebrated in the dining room and ballroom. When the heyday of downtown Manchester passed the hotel was given over to the Diocese of Manchester and converted into subsidized low-income housing.
TURN LEFT ON MERRIMACK STREET AND WALK ONE BLOCK TO RETURN TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT IN VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK.