Lantern tours to highlight Nashua's darker side

Alan Manoian, a local urban heritage guide, is kicking off a series of Downtown Nashua Evening Lantern Walking Tours.

NASHUA — Inspired by Nashua’s heritage and millyard sagas, the city’s former downtown development director is on a mission to share his knowledge with others who will listen.

This weekend, Alan S. Manoian will kick off a series of Downtown Nashua Evening Lantern Walking Tours — an initiative designed to entertain and educate.

“Over time, I have collected many dark, edgy stories about real life experiences here in the city, but I didn’t have the right atmosphere to share them,” said Manoian, who came up with the idea of lantern tours.

With many other cities promoting their downtown areas through nighttime lantern tours, Manoian said the Gate City should not be left out of the fun.

“I am a pretty colorful guy,” he admits, adding his unique stories are sure to entertain anyone who is willing to listen.

Stories about Nashua’s millyard and the downtown area will be unveiled during the tour, including one tale about a woman’s skeleton that was discovered concealed in a brick wall on the second floor of a Main Street building during its demolition in 1929. “This is true, and it became this really bizarre thing as people tried to figure out who in the name of God would bury a woman in a brick wall,” said Manoian. “And there are other types of odd things, such as an old ‘Pins and Needles Alley’ that no longer exists where very dark, frightening things such as murders happened in the alley.”

He also reveals details about a large burial ground on Spring Street that was eventually exhumed and 700 bodies were removed to build a former school.

“And this is just scratching the surface,” said Manoian, who has been conducting traditional historic walking tours in the city for about 20 years.

With the addition of the new lantern tours, Manoian says that city residents are curious and engaged about the possibility of learning unusual and mysterious facts about the downtown area.

Although he began piloting the lantern tours earlier this year, he is officially starting the program tonight when an estimated 30 people will participate in the outdoor event that travels along the downtown streets.

Today’s tour is nearly booked, but Manoian is planning a second tour for 7 p.m. on Sept. 26 as well. Additional lantern tours are being planned for October.

Anyone interested in learning about Nashua’s darker side, including how three young men burned to death in the basement of Nashua’s former city hall, are urged to participate.

The cost is $10 per person, and registration is available by calling Manoian at 978-735-5321.