Holderness, New Hampshire

Holderness is a town in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 2,108 at the 2010 census.[1] An agricultural and resort area, Holderness is home to the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center and is located on Squam Lake. Holderness is also home to Holderness School, a co-educational college-preparatory boarding school.

Holderness, New Hampshire
Squam Lake c. 1910
Squam Lake c. 1910
Official seal of Holderness, New Hampshire

Location in Grafton County, New Hampshire
Coordinates: 43°43′52″N 71°35′18″W / 43.73111°N 71.58833°WCoordinates: 43°43′52″N 71°35′18″W / 43.73111°N 71.58833°W
CountryUnited States
StateNew Hampshire
Named forRobert Darcy, 4th Earl of Holderness
East Holderness
 • Board of SelectmenJill White, Chair
Peter Francesco
Shelagh Connelly
John W. Laverack Jr.
Samuel Brickley
 • Town AdministratorMichael Capone
 • Total35.9 sq mi (93.0 km2)
 • Land30.5 sq mi (79.0 km2)
 • Water5.4 sq mi (14.0 km2)  13.97%
584 ft (178 m)
 • Total2,108
 • Density59/sq mi (23/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s)603
FIPS code33-36900
GNIS feature ID0873627


The Squam Lakes were a trade route for Abenaki Indians and early European settlers, who traveled the Squam River to the Pemigewasset River, then to the Merrimack River and seacoast. In 1751, Thomas Shepard submitted a petition on behalf of 64 grantees to Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth for 6 miles square on the Pemigewasset River. The governing council accepted, and the town was named after Robert Darcy, 4th Earl of Holderness. The French and Indian War, however, prevented settlement until after the 1759 Fall of Quebec. The land was regranted as New Holderness in 1761 to a group of New England families, and first settled in 1763. As proprietor of half the town, Samuel Livermore intended to create at New Holderness a great estate patterned after those of the English countryside. By 1790, the town had 329 residents, and in 1816, "New" was dropped from its name.[2]

Holderness became a farming and fishing community, except for the "business or flat iron area" located on the Squam River, which has falls that drop about 112 feet before meeting the Pemigewasset River. With water power to operate mills, the southwestern corner of town developed into an industrial center, to which the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad entered in 1849. But the mill village would be at odds with the agricultural community, especially when denied civic amenities including gaslights and sidewalks. Consequently, in 1868, it was set off as Ashland.[2]

Tourists in the 19th century discovered the region's scenic mountains and lakes. Before the age of automobiles, they would depart the train in Ashland and board a steamer, which traveled up the Squam River to rustic fishing camps or hillside hotels beside Squam Lake. Today, Holderness remains a popular resort area, where in 1981 the movie On Golden Pond was filmed.

Carnes Island, Holderness, NH

Carne's Island c. 1910

Steamer Halcyon, Holderness, NH

Steamer Halcyon c. 1910

The Asquam House, Holderness, NH

Asquam House in 1912. A "high-class modern hotel on Shepherd Hill on the shores of Asquam Lakes".[3]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 35.6 square miles (92 km2), of which 30.4 sq mi (79 km2) is land and 5.2 sq mi (13 km2) is water, comprising 14.73% of the town. Bounded on the northwest by the Pemigewasset River, Holderness is drained by Owl Brook. Part of Squam Lake is in the east, and Little Squam Lake is in the center. Mount Prospect, with an elevation of 2,064 feet (629 m) above sea level, is in the north. Also in the north is the highest point in Holderness, Mount Webster, elevation 2,076 feet (633 m) and part of the Squam Range. Holderness lies fully within the Merrimack River watershed.[4]

The town is served by U.S. Route 3 and state routes 25, 113 and 175.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20172,093[5]−0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 1,930 people, 768 households, and 546 families residing in the town. The population density was 63.5 people per square mile (24.5/km²). There were 1,208 housing units at an average density of 39.8 per square mile (15.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.88% White, 0.47% African American, 0.05% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.10% from other races, and 1.14% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.41% of the population.

There were 768 households out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.2% were married couples living together, 5.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.9% were non-families. 21.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the town, the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 31.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $47,895, and the median income for a family was $55,526. Males had a median income of $36,500 versus $26,116 for females. The per capita income for the town was $27,825. About 2.8% of families and 4.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.2% of those under age 18 and 4.0% of those age 65 or over.

Town government

Holderness is governed in the traditional New England style, with a five-member board of selectmen as its executive branch, and the traditional Town Meeting as its legislative branch. Municipal elections and Town Meetings are customarily held in March.

Notable people


  1. ^ United States Census Bureau, American FactFinder, 2010 Census figures. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Coolidge, Austin J.; John B. Mansfield (1859). A History and Description of New England. Boston, Massachusetts. pp. 529–530.
  3. ^ "The Asquaum House". The Independent. Jul 6, 1914. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  4. ^ Foster, Debra H.; Batorfalvy, Tatianna N.; Medalie, Laura (1995). Water Use in New Hampshire: An Activities Guide for Teachers. U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Geological Survey.
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017 (PEPANNRES): Minor Civil Divisions – New Hampshire". Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  8. ^ "George Butler". 2014 FOX News Network, LLC. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  9. ^ Metcalf, Henry Harrison and McClintock, John Norris (1879). The Granite Monthly: A Magazine of Literature, History and State Progress, Volume 3. J.N. McClintock. p. 65.
  10. ^ "Oren B. Cheney". Bates College. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  11. ^ "LIVERMORE, Arthur, (1766 - 1853)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  12. ^ "LIVERMORE, Samuel, (1732 - 1803)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  13. ^ "Hercules Mooney". 2009 Ancestry.com. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  14. ^ Dan True, Hummingbirds of North America: Attracting, Feeding, and Photographing (University of New Mexico Press 1995): 82-83. ISBN 9780826315724

External links

Arthur Livermore

Arthur Livermore (July 29, 1766 – July 1, 1853) was an American politician and a United States Representative from New Hampshire.

Boulderwood (Holderness, New Hampshire)

Boulderwood is a historic private summer camp on the shore of Squam Lake in Holderness, New Hampshire. Located on Mooney Point, the camp was developed beginning in the 1920s by Elwyn G. Preston. Preston, whose family had summered in other camps located on the point, began purchasing land in 1922, which included 2,000 feet (610 m) of shoreline, which was gradually expanded with other land purchases.The camp was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.

Burleigh Brae and Webster Boathouse

Burleigh Brae and Webster Boathouse are a historic summerhouse and boathouse in Holderness, New Hampshire. Located near Carns Cove off New Hampshire Route 113, Burleigh Brae is part of an extensive estate owned by the locally prominent Webster family. It was designed by Chapman & Foster and built in 1911 for Edwin G. Webster. The boathouse, located on the shore of Squam Lake, was built c. 1913.The buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

Camp Carnes

Camp Carnes is a historic private summer camp in Holderness, New Hampshire. Located on an island in Squam Lake's Carnes Cove off New Hampshire Route 113, the 1894 camp is one of the first to be established on an island in Squam Lake, and forms part of the extensive set of properties owned by the locally prominent Webster family. The camp was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

Chapel of the Holy Cross (Holderness, New Hampshire)

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a historic church at 45 Chapel Lane on the campus of Holderness School in Holderness, New Hampshire. Built in 1884 to a design by Charles Coolidge Haight, it is a prominent regional example of Gothic Revival architecture. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Holderness Inn

The Holderness Inn is a former 19th century hotel building on United States Route 3 in Holderness, New Hampshire. Built in 1895-96, it is the only such building standing in the Squam Lake area, from a period when there were a significant number of resort hotels around the lake. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. It is now owned by the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, and is open seasonally as an art gallery and craft showroom.

Holderness School

The Holderness School is a private, coeducational college-preparatory school in Holderness, near Plymouth, New Hampshire in the United States. The student body of 275 is drawn from 22 U.S. states and 14 foreign countries. While Holderness operates primarily as a boarding school, it also enrolls 50 day students. The Head of School (headmaster) is R. Phillip Peck, M.Ed. In the summer the campus is used as a site for various Gordon Research Conferences.

Little Squam Lake

Little Squam Lake is a 408-acre (1.65 km2) water body located in Grafton County in the Lakes Region of central New Hampshire, United States, in the towns of Holderness and Ashland. The lake connects upstream via a short channel to Squam Lake in Holderness. The two lakes are maintained at a common water level by a dam located one mile downstream from the outlet of Little Squam Lake, on the Squam River, a tributary of the Pemigewasset River.

May Rogers Webster

May Rogers Webster (May 23, 1873 — January 7, 1938) was an American naturalist active in New Hampshire, especially known for her knack of taming hummingbirds, but also for starting environmental education programs in that state.

North Holderness Freewill Baptist Church–Holderness Historical Society Building

The North Holderness Freewill Baptist Church–Holderness Historical Society Building (Third Free Will Baptist Church of Holderness) is an historic church building in Holderness, New Hampshire. Built in 1860 for a Free Will Baptist congregation, it is a little-altered example of a rural vernacular church building. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The building was moved in 1994 from its original site on Owl Brook Road to U.S. Route 3 east of the center of Holderness by the Holderness Historic Society, who now own it.

Rockywold-Deephaven Camps

The Rockywold-Deephaven Camps are a historic summer camp on Squam Lake in Holderness, New Hampshire. Now operated as a single facility, the camp began life as two adjacent camps. Rockywold Camp was established in 1901 by Mary Alice Armstrong and Deephaven in 1897 by Alice Mabel Bacon. Since 1918 the camps have been under combined administration, first under control of Mrs. Armstrong and the Howe family, and now under an organization owned primarily by the camp's returning guests. The camps have been a major influence on the development of Squam Lake as a summer destination, with many of its early campers returning to the lake (if not the camps) for many years. The camp grounds and facilities have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.The camps are located in northern Holderness, near the northwest tip of Squam Lake, on a pair of peninsulas separate by an inlet known to campers as The Bight. The camp occupies 103 acres (42 ha) of land, most of which is on the mainland, but also includes a few small islands in the lake. (The National Register listing also includes 288 acres (117 ha) of the lake itself, between the mainland and those islands.) There

are more than 60 residential cottages at the camp, as well as two lodges, two dining halls, and numerous smaller service-related facilities. The cottages are all distinct constructions, with many set along a portion of the camp's 8,000 feet (2,400 m) of shoreline. All are of wood-frame construction. Recreational facilities at the camp, in addition to water-based activities, include tennis and basketball courts.

Samuel Livermore

Samuel Livermore (May 14, 1732 – May 18, 1803) was a U.S. politician. He was a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire from 1793 to 1801 and served as President pro tempore of the United States Senate in 1796 and again in 1799.

Shepard Hill Historic District

The Shepard Hill Historic District encompasses an enclave of summer retreat properties in Holderness, New Hampshire. Centered on a stretch of Shepard Hill Road east of Holderness center, the area was one of the first to be developed as a summer estate area in the vicinity of Squam Lake, which Shepard Hill provided expansive views of. It includes 17 historic summer houses, built between 1870 and 1921, and a chapel. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.

Sid Lovett

Sid Lovett is a Democratic former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, representing the Grafton 8th District from 1994–1998, 2000-2002, 2006-2008 and 2012-2014.

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center (SLNSC) is an environmental education center and zoo founded in 1966 and opened to the public on July 1, 1969. The science center is located in Holderness, New Hampshire, United States. The mission of the science center is to advance understanding of ecology by exploring New Hampshire's natural world.

The science center uses live animal exhibits, natural science education programs, and lake cruises to educate visitors about the natural world. Using the outdoors as a classroom and native New Hampshire animals as teaching ambassadors, the science center teaches the ecological concepts of adaptations, populations, interrelationships, and habitats.

Squam River

The Squam River is a 3.6-mile-long (5.8 km) river located in central New Hampshire in the United States. The river is the outlet of Squam Lake, the second-largest lake in New Hampshire, and it is a tributary of the Pemigewasset River, which itself is a tributary of the Merrimack River.

The Squam River first appears as a narrow channel in Holderness, New Hampshire between Squam Lake and Little Squam Lake downstream. The two lakes have the same elevation, due to a dam below the outlet to Little Squam, so the river in Holderness village is not free-flowing. Below Little Squam Lake the river proceeds south for over a mile before reaching the dam which controls the two lakes' water level. Below this point, the river quickly reaches the backwater from a mill dam in the town of Ashland.

In Ashland, the river drops 50 feet (15 m) in 0.2 miles (0.3 km), sufficient to provide hydropower for numerous industries when the town originally grew in the 19th century. Below the center of town, the river wanders southeast under railroad tracks and Interstate 93 and past the Ashland sewage treatment plant before entering the Pemigewasset River.

Trinity Church (Holderness, New Hampshire)

Trinity Church is a historic Episcopal church, located in a small cemetery on New Hampshire Route 175 in Holderness, New Hampshire. Built in 1797, it is one of only two surviving 18th-century buildings in the state that was built as a church (the other is the Union Church in Claremont). It is also the only major surviving structure associated with the life of Samuel Livermore, a prominent New Hampshire statesman and jurist. The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. It is maintained by the cemetery's association, and is occasionally used for services.

Watch Rock Camp

Watch Rock Camp is a historic summer camp in Holderness, New Hampshire. Located off New Hampshire Route 113 on the shore of Squam Lake, the camp was built in 1926 for Herbert and Elizabeth Gallaudet; he was a scion of the founders of Gallaudet College. The camp was designed by New York City architect Francis Y. Joannes.The camp was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

Webster Estate

The Webster Estate is a historic summer estate in Holderness, New Hampshire. Located near Carns Cove on Squam Lake off New Hampshire Route 113, the estate belongs to the locally prominent Webster family. It includes a number of houses: the Homestead, which was built for the family patriarch, Frank Webster, in 1899, and the 1903 Laurence Webster House. It was one of the largest summer estates on Squam Lake at the time. A 16.4-acre (6.6 ha) remnant of the original 5,000-acre (2,000 ha) estate was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Places adjacent to Holderness, New Hampshire
Municipalities and communities of Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States
Other villages

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