Many—if not all—museums on the NH Heritage Trail boast a unique history that rivals that of any comparable institution anywhere. Located in Laconia in NH’s Lakes Region, Belknap Mill is no exception, as it is the only unaltered textile mill in the nation.
Saved from “the wrecking ball in the early 1970’s and placed on the National Register of Historical Places,” Belknap Mill has since become known as the “Gateway to Laconia” and holds the distinction of being the Official Meetinghouse of New Hampshire. Today, Belknap Mill offers two unique museum areas—the Knitting Room with exhibits that illustrate the Mill’s operation and the Powerhouse, which celebrates the history of hydro-power in New England through hands on exhibits that explain the hydro-power sources used there.
As with many museums on The Trail, Belknap Mill may be used for private and community gatherings, as it features a 2,800 square foot function room that Tara Shore, operations manager at Belknap Mill, said has become especially popular for weddings.
“Each spring, we also host up to 1,200 New Hampshire elementary school children for our nationally recognized industrial heritage program, “My First Day of Work at the Belknap Mill,” she said. “This interactive all day program immerses the students in a day at the Mill in 1918, covering topics of economics, science, math, and history. Each child gets paid accordingly, $0.10 – the rate of pay for a day of work at that time.”
Having recently just assumed her new role at Belknap Mill, Shore she “loves the uniqueness of each day” and expressed excitement at helping advance its mission. “If anything needs to get done, I make sure that it happens—it certainly is not boring,” she laughed.”
According to Shore, the future of Belknap Mill looks “blindingly bright.”
“Private and public programs and events fill our calendar, while our museum and newly renamed gift shop, Riverside Gifts, are now open regularly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays,” she said. We host art exhibits frequently in our Riverside Room…There are also some great changes happening at the Mill that we will announce in the coming months, so stay tuned.”
Michael Culver, president of The Trail, said he hopes that a deeper appreciation of the history behind the museums on The Trail will lead to an increase in visitors.
Many people right here in the Granite State simply don’t realize what an incredible opportunity they have right here to experience our nation’s history,” he said. “You do not have to rush down to Boston or other places south of the border to experience living American history. Each Trail member is different, too, so we cover hundreds of years of history.”
To learn more about Belknap Mill, visit www.belknapmill.org.
Museums on the Trail include the Aviation Museum, Albacore Park, American Independence Museum, Castle in the Clouds, Lake Winnipesaukee Museum, Libby Museum, Millyard Museum, Museum of the White Mountains, New Hampshire Boat Museum, New Hampshire Farm Museum, Portsmouth Historical Society @ Discover Portsmouth, Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm, The Belknap Mill, Woodman Museum, and Wright Museum of WWII.