Concord, New Hampshire
The capital of New Hampshire is a pleasant little city with an appropriate frontier-mountain feeling.
New Hampshire State House (capitol), Concord NH.
First settled in 1725, the town was called Rumford for the first 40 years. The name later found its way into the title of Count Rumford, inventor of a certain sort of shallow fireplace.
Since 1816 Concord has been the capital of New Hampshire. Granite, printing, electrical equipment, and leather goods, as well as a surprisingly small amount of state bureaucracy, keep the town going.
What to See & Do
The State House a president's house, and a Shaker village are high points.
Main Street in the city center is attractive, with historic old 19th- and early 20th-century brick and granite buildings.
Many are filled with lawyers and places for lawyers and legislators to eat lunch, and to relax over drinks and dinner in the evening.
The New Hampshire State Capitol, called the State House (, 107 North Main Street (map), \in the center of Concord NH, is the home of the General Court, New Hampshire's bicameral state legislature. The capitol, built in 1819 of—you guessed it—New Hampshire granite—is the oldest state capitol in the USA in which a legislature still occupies its original chambers.
The small size of the State House may surprise you. Compared with the mammoth buildings in Providence RI, Hartford CT, and Boston MA, it seems barely big enough to hold just the governor's staff.
Many of the tax-burdened citizens of other states are lured to New Hampshire every year by the low tax rate, kept low in part by keeping state government small.
A statue of Daniel Webster, lawyer, statesman, and famous orator, one of several native New Hampshire boys who made good on a national scale, stands before the building.
Inside, the state's battle flags and portraits of its notable military commanders are proudly displayed.
You can visit the State House on a self-guided tour anytime Monday through Friday from 8:15 am to 3:15 pm.
Franklin Pierce (1804-1869), 14th president of the United States (1853-1857), was speaker of the New Hampshire General Court (legislature) as well as one of Concord, New Hampshire's prominent lawyers and most popular citizens.
His house, the Pierce Manse, at 14 Horseshoe Pond Lane, is now a National Historic Site with regular visiting hours from mid-June through mid-October, and open by appointment at other times of the year.
The big white Greek Revival house at the farthest reaches of North Main Street was Pierce's family home from 1842-1848, and was saved from demolition in the late 1900s by a civic-minded group named the Pierce Brigade. It is now administered by that group and the New Hampshire Political Library.
Pierce served in both the US House of Representatives (1833-37) and the Senate (1837-42) before being elected to the presidency in 1852—the only New Hampshirite yet to serve in that office. The youngest person to be elected president as of that time, he was already achieved the rank of brigadier general in the US Army because of his service in the Mexican-American War (1846-48).
Unfortunately, Pierce's one term as president (1853-57) did not go well, and is now regarded as among the least successful in US history. Although a good, polite and thoughtful man and loving husband, and a good politician with important accomplishments to his credit, his views were often not in sync with those of his country, and he seemed unable to lead, particularly on the burning question of slavery.
His private life was beset by tragedy—all three of the Pierces' sons died before maturity, and Jane Means Appleton Pierce long suffered ill health and died of tuberculosis. Pierce himself struggled with alcoholism.
During the Civil War he sympathized with the Confederate states, thus ruining what remained of his reputation. (He carried on a private correspondence with Confederate president Jefferson Davis, who had been Secretary of War in Pierce's cabinet.)
In May 1864, Pierce was touring the White Mountains with Nathaniel Hawthorne, his friend since college days at Bowdoin, who was seriously ill. After dinner and bedtime in a hotel in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Pierce went to check on Hawthorne ahd found him dead in his bed.
Franklin Pierce died of cirrhosis five years later, in 1869.
The Shakers, that ascetic quasi-monastic Christian sect that flourished (if I can use that word) from the late 18th to late 19th century in New England, built a tidy village at what is now 288 Shaker Road, Canterbury, New Hampshire, beginning in 1792.
Besides producing the much-admired Shaker furniture and craft items, the Canterbury Shaker community specialized in producing herbs and herbal medicines, which were sold throughout the country.
The Village is now a non-profit museum featuring 29 Shaker buildings set on a 694-acre estate of forests, ponds and walking trails.
You can visit the herb garden, as well as the original meetinghouse (1792), an apiary (bee house), the ministry, a Sisters' shop, a laundry, horse barn, infirmary, and the schoolhouse (1826).
On the guided tour you can see dovetailed and oval box making in the carpenter's shop, and look over reproductions of Shaker designs in furniture and crafts in the carriagehouse gift shop. There's a Coffee Shop as well.
The Society, founded in 1823, has numerous collections of objects and artifacts relating to the state's history. More...
Prices for Concord lodgings are lower than for those at popular New Hampshire vacation destinations. Use this handy Hotel Map with Prices to find yours.
Concord NH is near the junction of highways I-89 and I-93, making it easily accessible from Boston MA, Manchester NH, central and northern New Hampshire, central and northern Vermont (map).
Distances from Concord:
Boston MA: 71 miles (114 km) S
Hanover NH: 60 miles (97 km) NW
Lebanon NH: 55 miles (89 km) NW
Manchester NH: 19 miles (31 km) S
Mount Washington: 124 miles (208 km) N
Portsmouth NH: 49 miles (79 km) E
Concord Coach Lines operates buses connecting New Hampshire cities and towns with one another and with Boston's South Station Transportation Center and Logan International Airport. The journey between Concord and Boston takes less than two hours. More...
Lebanon Municipal Airport, 62 miles (100 km) northwest of Concord, has flights by Cape Air from Boston and other points; but Boston's Logan Airport is only a few miles farther, and has many more airlines and flights.