Historic Harrisville

P.O. Box 79
Harrisville, NH 03450


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M-F:  7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.




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Locate your Business in the Historic Village of Harrisville

Since 1972, Historic Harrisville has been leasing commercial space in rehabilitated mill buildings that offer unique spaces in a picturesque country setting. Continue reading Locate your Business in the Historic Village of Harrisville

Pellet Boilers

screenshot_02The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission awarded Historic Harrisville a $150,000 grant, through the Renewable Energy Fund Grant Program, in 2014. The grant was for the installation of three 350,000 BTU, wood pellet boilers in the Cheshire Mills Complex. Following the rehabilitation of the space outside the existing boiler room, and the construction of a concrete block bin to hold 22,000 tons of pellets, the boilers were installed, and commissioned in September, 2014. They were expected to provide 85% of the mill’s heat; this winter they have provided 100% of the heat, and significant savings in fuel costs.

Preservation Timber Framing

photo 1

The Trip Hammer Shop in the center back

Preservation Timber Framing, Inc. from Berwick, ME, is the same company that repaired Mill No. 1’s timber trusses and frame. They are now preparing rafters, tie beams, floor joists, and wall plates to carry out repairs to Building No. 3, the Trip Hammer Shop.

photo 3

Tom, hard at work

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Careful measurements

Watershed Year for Cheshire Mills Hydro Project

Cheshire Mills Rope Drive

Cheshire Mills Rope Drive, 1938


On June 4, 2013, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order allowing Historic Harrisville Inc. to redevelop the hydroelectric capability that powered Cheshire Mills for nearly 100 years. The approval came in the form of an Exemption from Licensing, based on the fact that the project is small (under 5 megawatts) and uses an existing dam. Winning approval was a 3-year-plus process.

The development of waterpower in Harrisville began in 1774, when Abel Twitchell harnessed a portion of the “v flow” to power a grist and sawmill. From the opening of the Cheshire Mills in 1851 until 1947, when electricity was purchased to provide all motive power, water provided the majority of power for manufacturing on this site.

HHI Energy Committee inspecting the turbine

HHI Energy Committee inspecting the turbine

Since easily harnessed waterpower made the existence of Harrisville possible, it is desirable that the waterways, dams and other waterpower features be preserved. Ideally, these features should be restored to their functional meaning for their significant historic value. Continue reading Watershed Year for Cheshire Mills Hydro Project

A SketchUp “Time Machine” for the Village of Harrisville

Special presentation by Tom Weller, Weller & Michal Architects

Historic Harrisville Annual Meeting of Incorporators
Saturday, April 12, 2014, 10:00 AM
Cheshire Mills Complex, Mill No. 2, First Floor

Using archival 2D photos, drawings and maps of the Village, Tom Weller and Charles Michal are experimenting with ways to transform those images into a 3D interactive world using a popular Google Earth computer modeling software called SketchUp. Next they are adding the 4th dimension (space and time in a cyberspace dimension) to build an explorable timeline of the construction and deconstruction of the Village of Harrisville over the past 200 plus years.

New Projects at HHI

In mid-December Historic Harrisville received good news on two fronts.

Trip HammerFirst, it was awarded a grant by New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) to rehabilitate the Trip Hammer Shop, the small two-story brick building at the southern end of the Cheshire Mills Complex. Built ca. 1844 or before, and purchased by Cheshire Mills in 1859, it is the oldest structure on the mill site, was probably built by Calmer Harris, and initially was used as a machine shop.Timber frame, roofing, masonry, and carpentry work will begin early in the spring. When completed, it will provide two apartments for HHI’s affordable housing program.

Secondly, an application to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) renewable energy generation program won approval. The grant enables HHI to install pellet boilers that will help heat the Cheshire Mills Complex by providing heated water to the mill’s existing distribution system. When installed and fully functioning, the pellet boilers will reduce energy costs by replacing some of the fossil fuel used with a source of renewable energy. This biomass project, along with the reestablishment of waterpower as a source of electricity for the mill, will move HHI forward in its efforts to conserve energy and reduce its carbon footprint.  By Linda Willett

Remembering Rick Monahon

Duffy and Rick Monahon

Duffy and Rick Monahon

On Sunday, January 27, 2013, Rick Monahon and his wife, Duffy, were killed in a tragic automobile accident in Hillsborough, NH, as they were returning from a day of skiing at Mount Sunapee. Rick was one of the major figures in the history of Historic Harrisville; much of the success and reputation of the foundation is based on his efforts and talents. In 1972 he was hired as the architect for Historic Harrisville and he was functioning actively in that role when he died. He served as a Trustee from 1974 to 1998 and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1984 to l986.

Historic Harrisville was founded in the spring of l971, soon followed by the purchase of what we called the “six historic core buildings” in the last days of that year. Those six buildings were the Harris Storehouse, the Harris Mill, the Harris Boarding House, the Harris Boiler House, the Harris Sorting & Picker House and the Cheshire Mills Boarding House. As we moved into l972, we developed the plan that called for “recycling” the old industrial buildings so that they could be rented out and essentially support themselves. It was immediately obvious that we would need a special architect to assist us, one who would be sensitive to the important historic qualities of our buildings, clever enough to adapt them for modern uses, and capable of working happily within our very limited budget.

Someone at Sturbridge Village knew that Rick had written his thesis at MIT School of Architecture about adaptive reuse of the mills in Claremont, NH, and he suggested that we might give Rick a call. We did that, Rick came to Harrisville for an interview, and we knew immediately that he was just what we needed. Still a student at MIT and not yet a registered architect, Rick developed a plan for the Harris Storehouse and we were off and running. He purchased a house in Harrisville and eventually set up an office in Peterborough where he carried on his general practice with a special interest in preservation.

Robbins Milbank, founding member of HHI, and Rick Monahon in the Harris Storehouse

Robbins Milbank, a founding member of HHI, and Rick Monahon in the Harris Storehouse, 1983

Rick’s contribution to Historic Harrisville cannot be overstated. He generously donated his time and energy to solving the problems of making what were beautiful but worn out buildings functional once again. He did it with style and grace, and the beauty and energy of the village today is a testament to his talents. He will be greatly missed, and not soon forgotten.  By Chick Colony

The Eagle Hall Carriage House

The Carriage House cupola was removed for repair in Fred O'Connor's worshop

The Carriage House cupola was removed for repair in Fred O’Connor’s worshop

Repairs to the Eagle Hall Carriage House have generated a lot of interest and many questions as to why Historic Harrisville chose to undertake the extraordinary measures necessary to keep the original structure standing rather than take it down. The bowing walls and sagging roof made it clear to even the most casual observer that the building was standing out of habit. The decision to save the carriage house, and the choices made in determining how to approach it, are based on Historic Harrisville’s commitment to preserving the quality and historical significance of the village. Preserving historical significance requires that the historic design and setting of not only the buildings, but also of the group of buildings, is maintained. Each building is part of the pattern of village life and the loss of a building erodes the overall pattern and thereby the national historical significance of the village. Although the earlier changes had reduced its significance as an individual building, the carriage house continues to hold its place in the landscape, in the setting of the village, and as part of the store building complex. Continue reading The Eagle Hall Carriage House

40th Anniversary Campaign

By Jeannie Eastman 

New copper roof over the porch at the Harrisville General Store

The mill village, we can modestly boast, has never been more beautiful. With major preservation projects completed, Historic Harrisville looks back over the past 40 years confident that the dream we dreamed in 1971 has mostly come true.

The innovative economic model that we created called for renting our buildings, using that income to support the ongoing work of the foundation, and strengthening the economic vitality of the town by increasing its tax base. It worked. Most of the rental spaces in our restored buildings are occupied by an eclectic group of tenants who enrich the social life of the village.

Fred O’Connor
Repairing and repointing brick masonry
inside the Sorting and Picker House

In spring 2012 we launched a capital campaign to raise $1.5 million to finish much of what remains. As donations come in we are working our way through smaller repair projects that have been deferred for far too long: scraping and painting clapboard siding and window sash, repointing brick masonry, roof replacements, insulation, rebuilding stone retaining walls, drainage, and paving. In all, nine buildings are targeted for repair. Continue reading 40th Anniversary Campaign

A Double Celebration: Historic Harrisville and Harrisville Designs Turn Forty

By Pamela White

Chick and Pat Colony

Nearly everyone who lives in or near Harrisville knows the Colony family, owners and operators of Cheshire Mills over several generations until its closing in 1970. In addition to eldest son, John J. (Chick) Colony III, many members of the family still live here and are part of the fabric of the community, although Chick may be the one who is most in the public eye. Tall, with a friendly look-you-in-the-eye gaze, he can be seen most days walking with a relaxed purposeful gait between his home and the Harrisville Designs office or to the General Store for lunch, or around the waterways and mill buildings.

Some people wear a lot of hats. Chick wears at least three, but they each would bear the word “Harrisville” on the metaphorical brim. Like hats, purposes can be multiple: for example, as co-owner of Harrisville Designs with his wife, lifelong Harrisville resident, Patricia Colony, he keeps the textile tradition alive in Harrisville; as a trustee of Historic Harrisville, where I am a fellow trustee, he works to preserve the mill buildings and to lease them out as workspaces and affordable housing; and, as town moderator for Harrisville, he facilitates the annual Town Meeting. Harrisville is also his home where he and Pat have raised their three sons. Continue reading A Double Celebration: Historic Harrisville and Harrisville Designs Turn Forty