Granite State Stories: First Old Home week celebration

  • New Phenix Hall, Main Street, Concord, 1899. The façade of the building was decorated for the first Old Home Week celebration. The decorations included portraits of Governor Rollins (second from left), President William McKinley, and George Washington. Courtesy of N.H. Historical Society

Published: 7/27/2018 12:33:32 PM

Gov. Frank West Rollins proclaimed New Hampshire’s first Old Home Week in August 1899.

Rollins wanted to celebrate local pride, state patriotism, and the beauty of the rural landscape. He feared that the values and traditions of New Hampshire’s rural past were disappearing as many of the state’s residents moved away to industrial cities.

He hoped that a week-long reunion would not only compel former Granite Staters to return to their hometowns for a visit, but reinvigorate the state’s rural economy.

Old Home celebrations included the pleasures of a simple rural life, like parades, pie-eating contests, picnics and pageants. The practice proved so popular that it spread throughout New England and eastern Canada, and many towns continue an annual Old Home celebration today.

N.H. Historical Society

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