Northwood – A Brief History

A small town in southeastern New Hampshire, Northwood was originally part of the Nottingham Grant of 1722 with the first settlers making their way to the area that would become Northwood in 1763.

Ten years later, Northwood was founded when its first settlers successfully petitioned the Governor’s Council requesting separation from Nottingham. Because this section of Nottingham had been known as the great north woods, the newly formed town was called Northwood.

Our first town meeting took place on March 23, 1773. At that meeting the town voted to raise six pounds lawful money for preaching, and seven pounds, four shillings for schooling. As the town grew, nine school districts were formed so that no child had to walk more than a mile to school.

Two years later, our first census showed a total of 313 people in town. By 1860, that number had swelled to 1502 and by 1930 we counted only 873 souls. Today, about 3200 persons are full-time residents with nearly twice as many having second homes here.

The first New Hampshire Turnpike was built about 1800 to connect Portsmouth – New Hampshire only seaport – with the state capital, Concord; it runs the length of Northwood. Now called Route Four, the highway has been a major influence on the town since it was constructed. Throughout the 19th century, our many early taverns accommodated sledge and stage passengers. In the 20th century travelers with speedier vehicles have enjoyed our summer boarding houses, overnight cabins, motels and restaurants. Other visitors, not seeking food or sleep, go antiquing in the dozens of shops along the road.

An important factor in our earlier history was the shoe industry, which came along about 1830 and flourished for the next century. At one time, Northwood had three large shoe factories. In addition, many local families, who farmed during the spring, summer and fall, spent the long winters turning out shoes and parts for shoes. As the demand increased, more people spent more time filling that demand. By the early years of the 20th century, the industry was dying in Northwood, but lingered on until about 1930 when the last shoe factory was closed.

Thousands of motorists each day see our town only as they hurry along our eight-mile "main street." Though Northwood is sometimes called a bedroom community, there are more than one hundred small businesses in town, employing from one to twenty-five workers each.

Northwood is proud of the nine lakes and ponds, which are either totally or partially located in town (Little Bow, Bow, Harvey, Jenness Pond, Wild Goose, Durgin Pond, Northwood and Pleasant Lakes, Lucas and North River Ponds). In addition our mountain views, miles of country roads, and many lovely old homes and public buildings make Northwood the perfect place to visit or in which to settle down.
 
 

This information was obtained and in most cases directly quoted from the following sources: Northern Comforts: A collection of recipes from old timers, new timers, & summer timers of Northwood, New Hampshire (prepared to celebrate Northwood’s 225th Anniversary in 1998); The Northwood Guide (undated, but about 1950; published by the Northwood Community Association); and A Guide to the History and Old Dwelling Places of Northwood, New Hampshire, Written and Compiled by Joann Weeks Bailey, 2nd edition, 1992.

Contributed by Janet Clark

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