Monday, December 12, 2011

Harrisville - A short drive... and well worth the trip!

An early morning view of Harrisville Pond.
 A bit of background first… During our first summer in New Hampshire, after we had started working on the renovations for the B&B, Rob decided to “go exploring” on his way to Keene.  In this case, the scenic route took him through Harrisville.   He was so impressed that the next morning, as I was getting ready to leave on a business trip, he insisted that we HAD to leave extra early for the airport so he could take me to see his discovery.  I am always rushed when leaving on a trip, so it was a tough sell, but eventually I conceded and off we went!  As busy as I was that morning, I can’t deny… it was worth the trip!

Harrisville, New Hampshire is a sweet little historic mill village just 10 miles away from Peterborough.  (Ask us for “the scenic route” directions and we’ll suggest you go past Half Moon Pond and Skatutakee Lake on your way.) Harrisville’s history and current feel is based a lot on its mills.  As described on the Harrisville Designs website, “Woolen yarn has been spun in the water powered, brick mill town of Harrisville since 1794. This small village is nestled in the Monadnock Highlands of southwestern New Hampshire and is the only industrial community of the early 19th Century that still survives in America in its original form. In 1977, the Department of Interior designated Harrisville a National Historic Landmark… It is recognized as the only 18th century textile village in America that survives in its original form.”

We’ll usually plan to stop for lunch or a snack at the Harrisville General Store, which is a treat in itself.  The chairs on the front porch and warm wood interior just make you feel welcome.  Across the road from the general store is Harrisville Designs, a weaving center and retail store with yarns and products for weaving and knitting enthusiasts.  Even if you aren’t into fiber arts, Harrisville Designs it is a feast for the senses!   The big bright windows, the old worn floors, and the beautiful colored yarns are total eye candy, and the sounds of the river rushing right underneath your feet is hypnotizing!  And then there’s the town library, the walking path around the cemetery that takes you out on a small peninsula that juts into Harrisville Pond, and the rest of the mill village to explore.

Historic Harrisville, a nonprofit public foundation which owns the core mill buildings within the historic textile mill village, has developed a self-guided audio walking tour which feature’s some of Harrisville’s history and architecture.  The goal of Historic Harrisville is to preserve the integrity of the village, not as a museum but as a working community.  Restoration and renovation of the mill buildings has allowed for adaptive reuse in support of a variety of businesses including artist studios, general offices, and light manufacturing. An MP3 and map of the self-guided tour are available at the Historic Harrisville website.

 Back in October, we made a quick trip up to Harrisville to peek in their “Open Doors”.  The event celebrated Historic Harrisville’s 40th anniversary by allowing visitors to tour 10 of the buildings including the Twitchell House, Harris Mill, Harris Storehouse, Harris Boiler House, Harris Sorting & Picker House, Harrisville General Store, St. Denis Church, Cheshire Mills Boarding House, The Temple, and the Cheshire Mills Complex.  Here are just a few more photos from that day:

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