Notes From The Field: Field Trip

September 24, 2012

By Cheryl Katz

According to a few reliable sources–namely The Farmer’s Almanac and a couple of New York City expats currently blissfully ensconced in New Hampshire–should you find yourself with an afternoon to spare in the next two-and-a-half weeks, there’s no better time to take a drive north to see the state’s fall foliage in all its glory. And though red and gold and ochre against bright blue sky is reason enough for a car trip, if you get a thrill out of imagining 19th century life in a mill town, make sure your route includes a trip through Cheshire County with a stop in Harrisville.

Harrisville–with a population of about 1,000–is a preserved textile mill town in southern New Hampshire whose stone and brick Cheshire Mills have remained virtually unchanged since the mid 1800s. On a recent trip there, standing in a valley between two of the mill’s buildings, unable to see the paved road or even a hint of telephone lines, it was easy to picture factory workers–corseted women in high collared white shirts and long skirts with bustles in the back, men in vests–leaving their small cottages on their way to work.

The hallmarks of a 19th century town–home, factory, general store and place of worship–are all here, but now act as a prime example of adaptive re-use, housing a design studio, an art gallery, artists’ studios and the charming retail store, Mill Goods. (More about that in the Nov./Dec. issue of New England Home Magazine).

Cheshire Mill Buildings, Harrisville, N.H. Photos by Cheryl Katz

Once worker’s cottages, the Greek Revival houses are now privately owned.

Originally the boiler house for the textile mills, the building to the left now houses the retail shop Mill Goods.

A view of the Harrisville River, the body of water that once powered the mills’ machinery.

The Harrisville General Store services the community by selling groceries, sundries, and home cooked meals.

For more field trip ideas, check out our posts on:

Chatham, Mass.

Warren, R.I.

Camden, Maine