The Old Deerfield Center Historic District has earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
The designation was announced Wednesday by the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources.
According to a news release, the historic district spans 220 acres and includes 12 properties of primarily 18th- through early 20th-century buildings, 10 of which predate the Civil War. Sections of historic stone walls line the roads and mark property boundaries.
Several Georgian Colonial homes, dating from 1770 to 1830, are within the district. Each is 2½ stories and sided in clapboards; most have large center chimneys. One is an example of a connected farmhouse, with the house connected to the barn by a single-story wing.
Four Greek Revival-style homes, built in the late 18th century to the decades before the Civil War, have outbuildings unique to their properties: a 19th-century shoe shop, a post-and-beam shed, an offset barn and a large detached barn.
Two large barns remain within the district. One dates to the early 19th century and the other to the late 19th or early 20th century. Each has hand-hewn framing.
Old Center Cemetery includes both family plots and rows of gravestones, the earliest of which dates to 1772. The cemetery’s stonewall and gateway were constructed in the 1920s, replacing an earlier wooden fence.
“One of those interred at the cemetery is Major John Simpson, who achieved notoriety by reportedly firing the first shot — albeit unauthorized — at Bunker Hill while serving in Col. John Stark’s regiment,” the news release states. “Stark later became a general and penned New Hampshire’s state motto, ‘Live Free or Die.’”
Located near the geographic center of Deerfield, Old Deerfield Center was originally part of Nottingham, which was founded by royal charter in 1722.
Agriculture was Deerfield’s major business in the 19th century; it was the largest farming town in Rockingham County in 1874, according to the news release. Most local farms had a shoemaker’s shop where residents would work on shoemaking steps and then send their work to another location to be completed. In 1874, 230,000 pairs of shoes were produced in Deerfield.
“Deerfield experienced a 68 percent population drop from 1850 to 1930, when younger generations were drawn to both better more prosperous farmland and to jobs in industries other than agriculture,” the news release states. “Many former farms were purchased by wealthy individuals and became second homes.”
Administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of historic resources worthy of preservation and is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archaeological resources.
In New Hampshire, listing to the National Register makes applicable property owners eligible for grants such as the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program or LCHIP (lchip.org) and the Conservation License Plate Program (nh.gov/nhdhr/grants/moose).
For more information on the National Register program in New Hampshire, visit nh.gov/nhdhr or contact the Division of Historical Resources at 603-271-3583.