The Hippo


Jun 18, 2019








Courtesy photo.

Step into the past
Three walks for history lovers

By Allie Ginwala

Manchester Historic Walking Tour: The Millyard (Tour 1) and Downtown Manchester (Tour 2)
Miles: Millyard tour is 2.41 miles without the scenic loop or 3.16 miles with the scenic loop. Downtown tour is 1.32 miles. (We combined the scenic millyard loop and the downtown tour toward our total mileage count for this story.)
Difficulty level: Easy to walk paved roads. Only slight challenge is the hill that connects the two sections of the tour.
Theme: Exploring facets of Manchester’s past with a focus on the Amoskeag Millyard
What you’ll see as you walk: City buildings that have become commonplace in everyday life but have a rich history such as the Devine Millimet Building at Victory Park, which was originally a U.S. Post Office building built in 1932. It was designed by Edward L. Tilton, who also designed the building for the Currier Museum of Art, completed in 1929.
What to bring: Comfortable walking shoes, a water bottle and a tour map.
Highlights: Check out the Millyard Museum (open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.); the Mill Girl sculpture, representing the women who worked in the factories during the 19th century, and the Amory Mill (now One Dow Court), built in 1886, where denim was made. 
Created via a partnership between the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the Manchester Historic Association, the walking tour is great for visitors looking to learn more about the Queen City or Manchester residents who want to see the city from a different perspective.
“You know you walk by these buildings every day and until you really stop and look at them … it’s amazing the history behind them,” Charlene Courtemanche, senior executive assistant for the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said in a phone interview.
The self-guided tour is divided into two sections that can definitely be done all in one day, Courtemanche said. She handles tourism work for the Chamber and manages the welcome center at Veterans Park (at the corner of Elm and Merrimack streets), which she said is a good starting point for either section of the tour.
Visit the “visitors and relocation” tab at to download the tour map with site descriptions.
Laconia River Walk
Miles: 1.03 miles. See the map for a dotted line shorter route (0.3 miles)
Difficulty level: Easy, flat walk on paved roads
Theme: Marking the history and changes to the industrial town of Laconia
What you’ll see as you walk: Structures with deep industrial roots, like the Avery Dam, built in 1791 to control the water that powered local mills; Busiel Mill (listed on the National Historic Register), once Laconia’s largest hosiery company; and the Laconia Passenger Station in Veterans Square, built in the early 1890s, which allowed railroad travel from Laconia to Concord to Boston.
What to bring: Comfortable walking shoes and a River Walk map and site description.
Highlights: The Belknap Mill (also on the National Historic Register) was built in 1823 to manufacture wool and cotton cloth. It converted from weaving to knitting in 1861 during the Civil War, one of the first mills in the country to do so. 
“[Laconia River Walk] showcases the rich history of the industry and the city at the turn of the century and also how some of them [buildings] are repurposed now,” Gretchen Gandini, executive director of the WOW trail, said in a phone interview. 
With plenty of historic sites to stop at and downtown restaurants and shops to visit, she said spending a morning or afternoon would be a great way to engage in Laconia’s past and present downtown culture.
Visit for background on the sites and a map of the walk.
Portsmouth Black 
Heritage Trail
Miles: Self-guided walking tour encompasses the downtown Portsmouth area. Guided tours depart from the Discover Portsmouth Center covering about 1.5 miles
Difficulty level: Easy walking on all city streets with no hills or rough terrain
Theme: Preserving the history and culture of the African-American community in Portsmouth and the state.
What you’ll see as you walk: Bronze plaques at 24 historic sites around the city detailing African-American history in the community.
What to bring: Self-guided trail map and site info. 
Highlights: The African Burying Ground, a colonial site that was built over and rediscovered, and North Church in Market Square with a plaque that describes the racial segregation and discrimination of the 20th century.
“[It’s] jarring to people who are not aware that these things happened in our wonderful town,” Valerie Cunningham, coordinator for Sankofa Tours and the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, said in a phone interview.
“The time period that those sites covers is from the first documentation of Africans in New Hampshire, which begins in 1645, up to the modern civil rights era,” she said.
For those taking the self-guided tour, Cunningham recommended starting at a site that piques your interest.
“They can start any place they want to,” she said. “Sometimes people will look and something will [pop out at them] ... start where their interest is and let that lead them to the other sites.”
Visit or the Discover Portsmouth Center (10 Middle St., Portsmouth, 436-8433) for a trail map and site info and more information about the guided tour. 
As seen in the May 28, 2015 issue of the Hippo.


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