The now-abandoned, original Atkinson town center. The area is now part of Woodlock Park. (Courtesy photograph by Steven Lewis.)
Atkinson, N.H., is celebrating its 250th anniversary with a variety of events between Thursday, Aug. 31 and Monday, Sept. 4. To help give meaning to the festivities, WHAV presents a special series of little known facts about the town, heard on-air at 97.9 WHAV FM, Monday through Thursday, at 7:45 and 11:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.
Winning the right to separate from Plaistow in 1767, residents of the new town set out to build it.
A number of adjustments were made when the British rulers acted on the petition. Boundaries were adjusted to accommodate some residents that wished to remain Plaistow residents. The boundary with Hampstead also had to be adjusted. Hampstead—also once part of Haverhill and Amesbury—was incorporated 18 years earlier in 1749.
Atkinson’s new town center was, as historian Steven Lewis explains, was “out in the middle of the woods” at what is now Woodlock Park. A variety of natural characteristics, however, later convinced residents to move the center.
“The reason why the center moved to where it is now is this area, on top of the hill, had two really unique features that made the settlers want to move away from those fields—those natural meadows,” Lewis said. “Deep, stratified loam and sands and gravel. The land was well drained and had phenomenal air drainage. Air drainage is important because Atkinson, in general, has at least two additional weeks of growing season.”
The residents of the newly formed Atkinson built their first meeting house. When the town center moved, Lewis notes, the house was moved by oxen and rolling logs to its present site on Providence Hill Road. Citizens did not need to build a dog pound. The earlier Plaistow town pound found itself on the Atkinson side of the border after incorporation.
Atkinson’s formal celebrations begin Aug. 31. A full calendar of activities appears at atkinsonnh250th.com.
Tomorrow: Atkinson Celebrates 250: Pre-European Settlement