Somersworth, New Hampshire

Somersworth is a city in Strafford County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 11,766 at the 2010 census.[2] Somersworth has the smallest area and third-lowest population of New Hampshire's 13 cities.

Somersworth, New Hampshire
Main Street c. 1910
Main Street c. 1910
Official seal of Somersworth, New Hampshire

Location in Strafford County, New Hampshire
Location in Strafford County, New Hampshire
Coordinates: 43°15′45″N 70°51′51″W / 43.26250°N 70.86417°WCoordinates: 43°15′45″N 70°51′51″W / 43.26250°N 70.86417°W
CountryUnited States
StateNew Hampshire
Settledbefore 1700
Incorporated (town)1754
Incorporated (city)1893
 • MayorDana S. Hilliard
 • City Council
 • City ManagerRobert M. Belmore
 • Total9.99 sq mi (25.87 km2)
 • Land9.79 sq mi (25.36 km2)
 • Water0.20 sq mi (0.51 km2)
204 ft (62 m)
 • Total11,766
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,215/sq mi (469.2/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)603
FIPS code33-69940
GNIS feature ID0870007


Somersworth, originally called "Sligo" after Sligo in Ireland, was settled before 1700 as a part of Dover. It was organized in 1729 as the parish of "Summersworth", meaning "summer town", because during that season the ministers would preach here. It was set off and incorporated in 1754 by colonial governor Benning Wentworth, and until 1849 included Rollinsford. A clerical error at incorporation contracted the name to "Somersworth". It would be incorporated as a city in 1893, before which it was also known as "Great Falls".

Small girls working in Great Falls Mfg. Co. Many others there. Somersworth, N.H. - NARA - 523193
Child laborers at Great Falls Manufacturing, 1909. Photo by Lewis Hine.
High Street, Somersworth, NH
High Street, c. 1910

Situated where the Salmon Falls River drops 100 feet (30 m) over a mile, Somersworth early became a mill town, beginning with gristmills and sawmills. In 1822, the brothers Isaac and Jacob Wendell of Boston purchased for $5,000 a gristmill with its water rights at the Great Falls. They established the Great Falls Manufacturing Company, a textile business that expanded to include three mills for spinning thread and weaving cotton and woolen fabrics, specializing in "drillings, shirtings and sheetings." Throughout the 19th century, other expansive brick mill buildings, including a bleachery and dye works, were erected beside the river. The bleachery became the longest running textile operation in Somersworth. The building housed the operations that took the buff-colored fabric produced in the seven mills and transformed it into a sparkling white material that could be dyed or printed according to the buyer's wishes.[3] The gate house at the dam directed water as needed, regulating the flow either into the river or a company canal, which itself had gates sending it under the mill. Water power turned the wheels and belts that operated mill machinery. The railroad arrived in the early 1840s, before which goods were carted to Dover.

At first millworkers came from surrounding farms, including those in Berwick, Maine, directly across the bridge. Many were women. But as the need for labor grew, immigrants arrived from Ireland, and later Quebec. Brick tenement row houses were rented by the company to employee families, many of whose members worked in the mills beside their parents before passage of child labor laws. For relaxation, workers found entertainment at the Opera House or at Central Park, an amusement park beside Willand Pond. In the early 1870s, the Portsmouth, Great Falls & Conway Railroad began excursions to the White Mountains. The Electric Street Railway came in 1890, allowing trolley rides to York Beach, Maine.

But the New England textile industry went into decline in the 20th century. Water power was replaced with newer forms of energy, and cotton could be manufactured where it grew, saving transportation costs. Labor was also cheaper in the South, which did not have New Hampshire's inventory tax that levied commodities like coal and cotton at the plants. The Great Depression sent many regional textile firms into bankruptcy, when some local facilities were adapted for shoemaking. The Great Falls Manufacturing Company's big mill was renovated for other uses in the 1980s, although the bleachery suffered a devastating fire in November 2003, which required assistance from 23 fire departments from New Hampshire and Maine. The General Electric Company operates a factory that manufactures state of the art electric meters for the energy business.

Somersworth's heyday was during the mill era. Although frequently overshadowed by the larger neighboring cities of Dover and Rochester, Somersworth retains a quantity of Victorian architecture from its prosperous age. Some antique residences, most notably within the historic district known as "The Hill", have been restored. The municipality is today largely a bedroom community for other cities and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The upper end of High Street, however, continues to develop as a retail center, with several big-box chain stores.

The Opera House, Somersworth, NH

Opera House c. 1908

R. R. Station, Somersworth, NH

R. R. Station c. 1908

Mill No. 1, Somersworth, NH

Mill No. 1 c. 1906

Salmon Falls River from Somersworth, NH

Salmon Falls River c. 1915, looking to Berwick, Maine


Somersworth is located in eastern Strafford County at 43°15′14″N 70°52′32″W / 43.25389°N 70.87556°W (43.253783, -70.875499).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.0 square miles (25.9 km2), of which 9.8 square miles (25.4 km2) are land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km2) are water, comprising 1.97% of the city.[2] Somersworth is bordered to the northeast by the Salmon Falls River, which is also the state boundary with Maine. The highest point in Somersworth is Prospect Hill rising just west of the city center, on which the city reservoir is built. The hill's elevation is approximately 310 feet (94 m) above sea level.

New Hampshire Route 9 (High Street) is the main road through the city, leading north into Berwick, Maine, and south into Dover. New Hampshire Route 108 passes through a western portion of the city, leading northwest to Rochester and south to Dover. New Hampshire Route 236 (West High Street) leads west out of downtown to NH 108.

Somersworth is bounded by the town of Rollinsford to the south, the city of Dover to the southwest, the city of Rochester to the northwest, and the Maine town of Berwick to the northeast, across the Salmon Falls River.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201711,900[1]1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]

As of the census of 2010, there were 11,766 people, 4,862 households, and 3,044 families residing in the city. There were 5,199 housing units, of which 337, or 6.5%, were vacant. The racial makeup of the city was 89.4% white, 1.4% African American, 0.3% Native American, 5.3% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.9% some other race, and 2.6% from two or more races. 2.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[6]

Of the 4,862 households in the city, 31.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.9% were headed by married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% were non-families. 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.2% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42, and the average family size was 2.95.[6]

23.2% of residents in the city were under the age of 18, 8.1% were from age 18 to 24, 29.2% were from 25 to 44, 27.7% were from 45 to 64, and 11.8% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.3 males.[6]

For the period 2011-15, the estimated median annual income for a household was $54,868, and the median income for a family was $66,086. Male full-time workers had a median income of $47,865 versus $36,935 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,527. 13.6% of the population and 10.2% of families were below the poverty line, along with 20.0% of people under the age of 18 and 6.9% of people 65 or older.[7]


The Somersworth School District consists of Somersworth High School (grades 9–12), Somersworth Middle School (grades 6–8), and two elementary schools, Idlehurst Elementary School and Maple Wood Elementary School.

Somersworth's first high school (pictured above) opened in 1850 and was located at 17 Grand Street. Hilltop School, built at the same location in 1927, replaced the original high school. Later it would be converted to an elementary school.

In 1999, after numerous fire code violations were identified with the Hilltop School by the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal, the City of Somersworth was granted waivers for a period of three years to address the state's concerns. Despite the failure of the school district to address the numerous code violations during the probation period, the waivers continued to be extended past their originally intended three-year period. In August 2007, the upper floors of the school were closed by the New Hampshire State Fire Marshall after the city neglected to fix code violations they were warned about in November 2006.

The closure of the upper floors came just weeks before neighborhood students were scheduled to return from summer vacation. This resulted in the start of school being delayed by over two weeks for Hilltop students. Three portable classrooms were brought in for "2 years" in 2007. Students were still occupying the three portable classrooms surpassing the time allotted as of August 18, 2010.

In the spring of 2007, the Somersworth School Board voted to build a new school to replace Hilltop. On February 17, 2009, the Somersworth City Council voted to approve bonding in the amount of $19.9 million for the construction of a new elementary school. The new school has been named Idlehurst, and has been functioning in the SAU 56 school system as of the start of the 2011-2012 school year.

Notable people

Sites of interest

  • Summersworth Historical Society and Museum - 157 Main Street
  • Somersworth Historic District
  • 45 Market Street
  • Noble Pines
  • Somersworth River Walk


Public transportation is provided by the Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation.


  1. ^ a b "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017 (PEPANNRES): Incorporated Places: 2010 to 2017 – New Hampshire". Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Somersworth city, New Hampshire". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "Brief History of Somersworth". Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  5. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (DP-1): Somersworth city, New Hampshire". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  7. ^ "Selected Economic Characteristics: 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (DP03): Somersworth city, New Hampshire". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved September 13, 2017.

External links

Charles Lincoln White

Charles Lincoln White (January 22, 1863 – 1941) was the 13th President of Colby College, Maine, United States from 1901–1908.

Daniel G. Rollins

Daniel Gustavus Rollins (October 18, 1842 Great Falls, Strafford County, New Hampshire – August 30, 1897 Somersworth, Strafford Co., NH) was an American lawyer and politician from New York.

Devin Powell

Devin Powell (born March 1, 1988) is a mixed martial arts fighter currently competing in the Lightweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Forest Glade Cemetery

Forest Glade Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Somersworth, New Hampshire. Set on 22 acres (8.9 ha) on Maple Street, it is a good example of the popular mid-19th century rural cemetery movement. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.

Fred H. Brown

Fred Herbert Brown (April 12, 1879 – February 3, 1955) was an American lawyer, baseball player and Democratic politician from Somersworth, New Hampshire. He served as mayor of Somersworth and as United States Attorney for New Hampshire before his term as Governor of New Hampshire from 1923 to 1925, and later served in the United States Senate.Brown was elected to the Senate by narrowly defeating Republican incumbent George H. Moses in the Roosevelt landslide of 1932. But he lost his bid for re-election in 1938.

He served as Comptroller General of the United States from 1939 to 1940. He was appointed to a 15-year term, as are all Comptrollers Generals, but only served one year due to illness.

He played parts of two seasons in Major League Baseball for the Boston Beaneaters in 1901 and 1902. He played nine games over the course of those two seasons, seven in the outfield, going 4-for-20 at the plate and not making an error in 10 chances in the field.

George William Burleigh

George William Burleigh, Jr. (April 18, 1870 – March 15, 1940) was a director of the Lackawanna Steel Company and a Colonel in the New York National Guard who commanded the Ninth Coast Defense during World War I.

Godfrey Haggard

Sir Godfrey Digby Napier Haggard (6 February 1884 – 3 April 1969) was a British diplomat. His career of service spanned forty-four years, culminating with his posting as Consul General at New York, and followed by his appointment as director of the American Forces Liaison Division of the Ministry of Information.

Green Street School

The Green Street School is a historic school building at 104 Green Street in Somersworth, New Hampshire. Built in 1890–91, it is the city's oldest surviving school, and a prominent feature of its urban core. It was converted into residences in 1983–84, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

James Allwood Smith

James Allwood Smith (November 6, 1806 – April 15, 1882) was an American minister and state legislator.

Smith, son of Norman and Elizabeth (Kingsbury) Smith, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, November 6, 1806. He graduated from Yale College in 1826. After graduating he spent nearly two years as principal of the Union Academy in New London, Connecticut. He then entered the Yale Divinity School, and completed his course of preparation for the ministry at Andover Theological Seminary in 1831.

He was ordained pastor of the Congregational Church at Great Falls, in the town of Somersworth, New Hampshire, April 17, 1832. He was dismissed from this charge, July 24, 1837, and on the 6th of December following was installed over the First Congregational Church in Glastonbury, Connecticut, where he continued for twenty years. Early in 1858 he removed to Unionville, in the town of Farmington, Connecticut, where he remained until his death, after three days' illness, of dropsy of the heart, on April 15, 1882. He had been usefully occupied during much of his residence in Unionville in supplying vacant churches in the neighborhood, and had served for one year (1867) as a member of the Connecticut State Legislature.

In July, 1832, he married Mary Morgan, of Hartford; of their ten children, two sons and two daughters survived him, the elder son being a graduate of Yale in the class of 1854.

This article incorporates public domain material from the 1882 Yale Obituary Record.

John Wentworth (judge)

John Wentworth (March 30, 1719 – May 17, 1781) was a jurist, soldier, and leader of the American Revolution in New Hampshire. He was often referred to as the Judge or as Colonel John to distinguish him from his cousin, the John Wentworth who was the colony's governor. He is descended from early New Hampshire settler William Wentworth and is a great grandfather to John Wentworth (Illinois).

John Wentworth Jr.

John Wentworth Jr. (July 17, 1745 – January 10, 1787) was a lawyer who served as a delegate to the Continental Congress for New Hampshire and a signer of the Articles of Confederation.

Lehoullier Building

The Lehoullier Building is a historic mill tenement house at 161-169 Main Street in Somersworth, New Hampshire. Built in 1843, it is one of two surviving tenement houses of the many that once lined Main Street near the Great Falls Manufacturing Company. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Old Somersworth High School

The Old Somersworth High School, also formerly the Hilltop Elementary School, is a historic school building at 17 Grand Street in Somersworth, New Hampshire. It is a three-story brick Georgian Revival building, constructed in 1927 on the site of New Hampshire's oldest high school. It was designed by Charles Greely Loring, and served as a high school until 1956 and an elementary school until 2007. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

Queensbury Mill

The Queensbury Mill is a historic mill building at 1 Market Street in Somersworth, New Hampshire. Built in 1884, it is unusual for the period for its wood-frame construction, and for its financing, executed by local businessmen to attract shoe manufacturers to the city. The mill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The building has been converted into apartments.

Ransom Dunn

Rev. Ransom Dunn, D.D. (July 7, 1818 – November 9, 1900) (nickname: "the Grand Old Man of Hillsdale") was an American minister and theologian, prominent in the early Free Will Baptist movement in New England. He was President of Rio Grande College in Ohio, and Hillsdale College in Michigan. A Discourse on the Freedom of the Will is one of his most notable works.

Stuart Chase

Stuart Chase (March 8, 1888 – November 16, 1985) was an American economist, social theorist, and writer. His writings covered topics as diverse as general semantics and physical economy. His thought was shaped by Henry George, by economic philosopher Thorstein Veblen, by Fabian socialism, and by the Communist social and educational experiments being in the Soviet Union around 1930.Chase spent his early political career supporting "a wide range of reform causes: the single tax, women's suffrage, birth control and socialism." Chase's early books, The Tragedy of Waste (1925) and Your Money's Worth (1928), were notable for their criticism of corporate advertising and their advocacy of consumer protection.


Thinksound stylized as thinksound is an independent manufacturer of eco-friendly earbud headphones. The products are made of real wood, which provide a unique sound compared to many other headphones.

In order to reduce their environmental impact, thinksound uses wood from renewable sources, creates packaging from recycled, bleach-free materials, and does not include a plastic bubble to reduce the size of their packaging.

They are based in Somersworth, New Hampshire while the products are being manufactured in China.

United States Post Office (Somersworth, New Hampshire)

The U.S. Post Office-Somersworth Main is the main post office of Somersworth, New Hampshire. Located at 2 Government Way in downtown Somersworth, it is a Georgian Revival building completed in 1931 to a design by the Office of the Supervising Architect under James A. Wetmore. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.


WBYY (98.7 FM; "Frank FM") is a radio station broadcasting a classic hits format. Licensed to Somersworth, New Hampshire, United States, with studios in Dover, New Hampshire, the station serves the Seacoast of New Hampshire and Southern Maine area. The station is owned by Binnie Media.

Places adjacent to Somersworth, New Hampshire
Municipalities and communities of Strafford County, New Hampshire, United States
Other villages

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