Hillsborough (often spelled Hillsboro) is located in the south central part of New Hampshire, conveniently located between Concord and Keene. It is made up of four villages: Hillsborough Bridge Village (downtown), Hillsborough Center, Hillsborough Upper Village, and Hillsborough Lower Village. Although the villages differ slightly from a majority of towns throughout New Hampshire, the hills afford advantages of exhilarating air and a picturesque scenery.
The 2010 census has the population listed as 6,011 and I had the fortunate advantage of living in this quaint and friendly town from 2000 to 2003.
The town was granted title as “Number Seven” in 1735, by Colonial Governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Jonathan Belcher. “Number Seven” made it one in a line of nine towns set up as defense barriers against Indian attacks. It was renamed Hillsborough in 1739, and finally settled in 1741.
Hillsborough was also the birthplace of Franklin Pierce, 14th president of the United States, and the only president from New Hampshire.
The Pierce Homestead was built in 1804 by Franklin’s father, Benjamin Pierce, a general in the Revolutionary War, and twice the governor of New Hampshire. The homestead was restored in 1925 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961. Today, the house is owned by the state and used as a museum.
Hillsborough Center Village
Hillsborough Center served as the center for all locals up to the 20th-century. Today, it retains the 19th-century atmosphere of a typical New England town with a Common (public green/park), burial ground, schoolhouses, and churches.
Hillsborough Bridge Village
The Bridge area is better known as downtown Hillsborough, is nestled along the Contoocook River, where you can take a stroll through the historic area, browsing in quaint shops, stopping for a warm pretzel at an authentic German bakery, and enjoy a sundae at the old fashioned ice cream parlor.
If you’re looking for a bite to eat, Tooky Mills Pub should not be missed, where you can grab some delicious grub. Start out with a creamy bowl of clam chowder and move on to the Baltic Mills Chicken, which is roasted butternut squash raviolis tossed with grilled chicken and crispy prosciutto in a sweet butter broth, and topped with shaved Romano.
For dessert, stick around and partake of Tooky’s creme brulee or go back up the hill on Main Street to Central Square Ice Cream Shop and partake of their famous hot fudge or caramel sundae.
The Upper Village
Many of the homes in the Upper Village, and still retain their original charm, date back to Benjamin Pierce (1800s), who is buried in the graveyard seen before you enter the village. Granite Walls outline the Pine Hill Cemetery, where the Pierce family plot is located at the forefront.
The Lower Village
The Lower Village was developed as a stopping point for stage coaches traveling south. Again, the homes in this area date back to the early 19th-Century, where notable people such as the founder of American Express, the father of Vaudeville, and a railway magnate resided. The first post office was built here in 1801.
Stone Arch Bridges
Nearby Fox Forest has more preserved stone arch bridges than any other town in New Hampshire.
The bridges were built during the 19th-century because there was a need for sturdier construction to replace the weaker wooden bridges. The design required exceptional skills by stone cutters and stonemasons because each stone had to fit precisely.
Fuller Public Library and Town Office
Once the home of Governor John Smith, the late-Victorian house now serves as a public library.
The home was built in 1892, and combines features from the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles. It is an irregular floor plan with varied wall, gable, and window treatments. Classic details are seen throughout the building and the interior cherry woodwork was elaborately hand-carved.
Hillsborough is not to be missed, especially with it’s unique New England charm and even though it was settled in the early 18th-Century, the town has retained that old-time, small town feel. It’s a great place for families, whether relocating to the area or just there of a day-visit. You won’t regret it.