When most people in the Merrimack Valley say they are going to Nashua, New Hampshire, the first thing that comes to mind is tax free shopping. But the City of Nashua is much more than a shopping destination. Nashua is rich with history, and offers many interesting historical sites.
If the Pheasant Lane Mall is one of your favorite shopping spots, try making a side trip to the Nashua City Hall, located at 229 Main St. The Nashua Historical Society displays a changing exhibit at city hall, and the current exhibit is the “History of the Pheasant Lane Mall.” Enjoy the history and backstory of the mall before you get your shopping therapy.
For a larger picture of the history of Nashua, visit the Florence H. Speare Memorial Museum, located at 5 Abbott St. This museum was constructed in 1971 with donations provided by local businessman, Sleva Speare, and was named in honor of his wife Florence Hyde Speare.
The Spear Museum contains a wealth of information about Nashua, from its origin to its evolution into a mill town, and the growth of the community that has become the city we know today. The always changing exhibits bring to life scenes from the past to include authentic costuming, furnishings and accessories.
The Speare Museum is also the home of the Frank B. Clancy Research Library. The museum and library are open year round, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturdays by appointment.
Adjacent to the Speare Museum, also on Abbott Street, you will find the Abbot Spalding House. This was the home of several prominent Nashua historical citizens, including Daniel Abbot (considered the father of Nashua) and William Spalding. The Abbot Spalding House is a beautiful, Federal Revival style home that was the meeting place for the famous and influential of New Hampshire.
This museum has period furnishings, china and glass, and fine art pieces collected by the Spalding family who occupied the home for 73 years until it was purchased by the Nashua Historical Society in the late 1970’s. The interior and exterior have had major restoration in recent years, bringing back the original beauty and integrity of this historic home.
The Abbot Spalding House Museum is open from April to November. Call the Nashua Historical Society at 603-883-0015 to make an appointment to view this home or the Speare Museum.
Mine Falls Park is a 325 acre park located in the heart of Nashua on Whipple Street. It is bordered on the north by the Nashua River, and on the south by the Millpond and the power canal system, making it a center spot of Nashua industrial history.
The name “Mine Falls” dates back to the 18th century when low quality lead is said to have been mined from the island below the falls.
In the 19th century, after the success of the Merrimack Canals in Lowell, the potential of the Nashua River was used for industrial mills in Nashua. The Nashua Manufacturing Company, which owned a massive complex that included the property now known as the Mine Falls Park, harnessed the flow of the Nashua River to power its mills that were downstream on Factory Street.
The mills closed in 1948, and the site was used for various commercial purposes while the Nashua River suffered from severe pollution. After a visit from the Environmental Protection Agency in 1973, a master plan was created for Mine Falls Park, which now hosts seven playing fields as well as walking, biking, and cross country skiing trails and fishing and boating options.
The Nashua River Canals and the Nashua Manufacturing Company Historic District are both on the National Register of Historic Places, and the park trails were added to the New Hampshire Heritage Trail System in 1992. The park is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The next time you head north to Nashua, skip the mall and enjoy the interesting, historic sites and stories Nashua has to offer.