In My Footsteps
Trip 102: Hanover, Massachusetts
December 16, 2010
Named for the first Hanoverian King of England, George I, and settled only after a bridge was built across the North River the town of Hanover is a small town with a lot of history. The town that was named in his honor was incorporated actually a few days after King George I had died. It was incorporated on June 14, 1727 while King George died on June 11th; news did not reach the colonies until long after. Hanover is also where one of the first Tedeschi food shops was built in 1954. To get a taste of the history of Hanover one only needs to visit the Hanover Historical Society.
|Stetson House c.1716|
The Stetson House where the Historical Society resides is the oldest building in Hanover. So old in fact that when it was built Hanover was not even its own town, it was still a part of Scituate. The yellow house on Hanover Street was built in 1716 by Samuel Stetson whose family was one of the first to settle in the future Hanover. The house was the site of the first town meetings, one of which led to the incorporation of the town. It is amazing to think when I looked at this house that Stetson had nineteen children. I have no idea how they all fit in the relatively normal-sized home.
|The fourth First Congregational Church|
Located a short walk from the Stetson House is the First Congregational Church of Hanover. I included this church because despite its name it is actually the fourth church built on the site. Sitting on a small hill across from the town hall the church was founded in 1728. It was then replaced on the same spot in 1765. In 1827 a third church was built, facing east this time rather than south, with a separate Town Hall built closely behind the building. Both the church and Town Hall burned to the ground in 1862; the current ‘First’ Congregational Church was built in 1863 facing south again. I got some really nice photos as the sun began to sink in the sky. It made for some great shadows of the iron railings which lead to the church’s front door.
|John Curtis Free Library|
As I wrote the original Town Hall of Hanover was built in 1827 directly behind the First Congregational Church before burning down in 1862. The new Town Hall is right across Hanover Street from the church, completed in 1863. Shortly after it was opened the Town Hall had a pair of rooms set aside for a high school and library. I found myself really enjoying the small building on top of the Town Hall. I don’t know what to call it, but its roof was supported by a group of columns. It is a really nice touch.
|Hanover Town Hall|
Back across Hanover Street is the Hanover Center Cemetery which was established in 1727 the same year that Hanover was founded. It is here that many of the town’s original settlers are buried and it gives you an up close view of those who started Hanover. The portion of the cemetery right behind the Congregational Church is the oldest and it is sometimes referred to as ‘God’s Acre.’ A really neat headstone to view is that of Joseph Washington. He was a born a slave in North Carolina and brought to Hanover. The inscription on the stone reads ‘Born in North Carolina a SLAVE, died in Massachusetts FREE.’ That will give you chills when you see it up close.
The history of Hanover stretches a vast array of time periods and subjects. From its association with King George I all the way up to its hand in the beginning of the Tedeschi food shops, Hanover has seen a lot in its nearly 300 year history. The Hanover Center Historic District will give you a lot of great sites to see but it is not all there is. Take your time and enjoy Hanover, of course you can always pay a visit to the huge Hanover Mall as well! Have fun and happy traveling!
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Directions: Hanover Center Historic District: From Rt. 3 take Exit 12, turn right at Rt. 139. Follow nearly 1 mile, take slight left at Water St. Continue onto Schoosett St., slight right onto Rt. 139, follow 1 mile, slight left to stay on Rt. 139. Continue 1.2 miles, you will be in front of Stetson House, historic district is all around.
References: Hanover, Ma.gov