We were surprised to come across a replica of the Liberty Bell sitting on the front lawn of the New Hampshire State Capitol building.
It wasn't a true replica though, since it was clearly not made out of the same materials. It did look pretty similar though, and even had "the crack"... but not really - the bell wasn't actually cracked, it was just painted to look like it was.
Kind of odd, but probably worth checking out if you are near the capitol.
New Hampshire's Capitol Building is right in downtown Concord.
We only briefly stopped in the city for lunch during our roadtrip, so we didn't get a chance to go inside. However, we did check out the exterior of the building and it was fairly interesting.
According to signs in the front lawn:
The building is completely made from New Hampshire Granite, except for the top dome, which appears to be made from gold.
It is also the oldest "state house" that is still in use, having been in use since 1819.
On the west side of the capitol building, in front of the legislative office building, there is a memorial for those local police, firefighters, soldiers, and others who died in service to the community, state, or nation. The legislative office building is also of some architecture interest. The landscaping of colorful annuals contrasted with the solemn grey granite is what caught my eye the most.
The Protestant roots being deep in New England generally, Concord has it's share of noteworthy churches worth a photo or two. Quite near the capitol building are the Episcopal and Baptist Churches. Probably the most well endowed, the St. Paul's Episcopal Church, right across the street from the capitol, also remains a vibrant congregation by all appearances, On the other hand, the First Baptist Church building, which is across the street from First Church of Christian Science, has evolved into yet another denomination called the Centerpoint Church, of which I'm not familiar. Examination of the church website reveals many of the same Christian themes, as these churches are clearly not high dogmatic or ritually intensive faiths, but rather are familly and community oriented organizations.
Across from the Capitol Building, in front of the old State Libary Building (claimed to be the first such "state library" in the nation) , is a tribute to the state that has been for many years first in the presidential primary campaign for both the Democratic and Republican parties--New Hampshire. More detailed information can be found here. There is also a sign in front of the rather poorly constructed brick memorial, where there's a red brick for every candidate and a granite block for each of the Republican and Democratic winners of the primary. This memorial needs a lot of improvement before it will become comparable to the Hollywood walk of stars, but for political junkies it is worth a look nevertheless.
Mary Baker Eddy first resided in Bow, which is next to Concord, but she later had a large house in Concord, across from the president day hospital. The house is gone, but there's a sign marking the spot and describing a bit about the Ms. Eddy and her founding of the Christian Science faith in the late 19th century. Downtown one block south of the capitol building is the 1903 granite First Church of Christian Science, which is of considerable architectural merit, also funded in part by the affluent founder just a few years after she moved from Bow. For those so interested, there are two things noteworthy about New Hampshire and New England and upper New York when it comes to religion. First, the region was a hot bed of protestant invention during the 19th century, and conservative movement that appears to be in response to the deism of the Revolutionary War period. Besides the Christian Scientists, the Mormans and several Pentacostal sects were also born in this region. Secondly, in today's world the pendulum has swung back toward deism, comparatively speaking, as those living in New Hampshire and elsewhere in New England are among the least interested in practicing any religious faith. But, there remain a number of rather quaint architectural relics available for those so interested.
The most famous New Hampshire born naval officer is certainly Commodore George H. Perkins, if for no other reason than his extraordinary bronze and granite tribute at the west entrance to the Concord State Capitol. Perkins gain distinction for his Civil War commands during anti-slave ship patrols and Mississippi River engagements, but ultimately won fame for heroism at the Battle of Mobile Bay, where the Confederate iron-clad Tennessee was sunk. His rank of Commodore was done by Congressional action following the war, as he never rose above the rank of Captain during his long tenure. Check out the detail work on this memorial which in terms of art outperforms any other on such statue on the Capitol grounds--even if it's location is on the backside of the building.
New Hamphire has probably contributed more than its share of able bodied heros, and so General John Stark, is really but one of them, and one of two memorialized by statue on the Concord State Capitol grounds. Stark was a Lieutenant and later Captain under Maj Robert Rodgers within the Quebec area campaign, during the French and Indian War (actually the portion of a world-wide war between Britain and France found on American soil). However, he became a more important military leader and hero during the American Revolutionary War for two major actions. First, he commanded a force of Minutemen infantry during the ill-fated Bunker Hill battle, allowing the forces of his superior officer to safely retreat. Second, having secured a more important command still outside the authority of the Continental Army, Stark's New Hampsire Militia, combined with Seth Warner's Vermont "Green Mountain Boys", managed to route Hessian forces at the Battle of Bennington, effectively stopping a resupply of forces under British General John Burgoyne--who a few months later surrendered at the crucial Battle of Saratoga. Stark's independent style of leadership is memorialized in this statue under the shade of a tree on the south side of the capitol grounds. It was Stark who contributed the New Hampshire State Motto "Live Free or Die". His wife Molly Stark is also of some historical memory, and both are commemorated in a variety of places. Besides this statue on the capitol grounds, there is another more action oriented one at the Battle of Bennington war memorial site.
John P. Hale (1806-1873) and Daniel Webster both served in the senate during the critical pre-Civil War period, and was also a strong political enemy of the "doughface" Franklin Pierce. Hale lost the presidential election to Pierce in 1852. Hale ran for president as a "Free Soil" candidate, but gain his greatest reputation for early and open opposition to the Mexican War and slavery. While young Franklin Pierce became a military leader in the Mexican War, and tolerated slavery as a means of preserving the union, AND while Webster compromised over the entry of slave states into the union, Hale, the least of these men historically, ultimately prevailed in terms of his perservation of moral argument, for the ultimate better good of American society. Ironically though, Hale's daughter Lucy Lambert Hale was betrothed in 1865 to John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin, and Booth had a picture of Lucy Hale with him when he was killed by Federal troops on April 26, 1865. Inside the New Hampshire State Capitol, portraits of Lincoln and Hale hang together. Hale's statue, with his distinctive hand held high, is well positioned just north of Webster's in the central lawn of the New Hampshire State Capitol grounds, and it was commissioned and dedicated earlier than those of either Webster or Pierce--1892--both a tribute to the impact Hale had for New Hampshire politics. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any other such tribute to Hale elsewhere in the USA, so check it out carefully. Note the remarkable inscription shown here.
In contrast to Franklin Pierce, New Hampshire native Senator Daniel Webster is commemorated in a large statue right in the center of the Concord state house grounds--and for good reason. Webster was a very powerful and long serving 19th century senator who tried three times to win the presidency, only to spurn the offer of Vice-President twice by former war hero's--William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor--presidents who each died in office. Webster served with distinction as Secretary of State acheiving compromise on the territorial border dispute with Canada along the northeast frontier. But, it was as a Whig senator of compromise and extraordinarily powerful oratory that he established his historical reputation as one of the greatest senators of all time. His nationalism during an age of increasing friction between the north and south helped contain slavery to the south, while keeping the south within the union. So it was by the force of his personality that he often push through legislation that was otherwise unpopular within his own abolitionist northeast. His statue features several memorable quotes attributable to Webster. Also unlike Pierce, Webster is widely commemorated elsewhere in the United States by statue and institutional name. There are, for example, major bronzes of Webster in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C.
In the somewhat awkward southeast corner of the Capitol building grounds, right along Main Street is a tribute to New Hamphire's only native contribution to the US presidency---Franklin Pierce (1804-1869). Pierce was a youthful but ineffectual president who both followed and preceded other ineffectual presidents in the decade just prior to the American Civil War. He was apparently an amiable politician able to gain popular favor, but as a "doughface" representative, senator, and later president, stumbled as a northerner with southern sympathies. While this reputation helped him win in a landslide over Whig candidate and Mexican War hero, General Winfield Scott, it also contributed to brief expansion of the nation's most tragic of institutions--slavery--through presidential support of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Pierce's desire to follow Polk's expansionist goal, also created an unpopular foreign policy fiasco known as the Ostend Manifesto, which undermined the Monroe Doctrine and continued a the attitude of empire building established with the morally bankrupt Mexican War. In this case, Cuba was the target, as this manifesto tried to justify the purchase of Cuba from Spain as an acceptable transfer into American territory at a time when Cuban patriots were seeking independence. Pierce served only one term as he failed to gain the nomination of his own Democratic party, thus giving over office to fellow Democrat James Buchanan, just prior to the fortuitous rise of the Republican party, Abraham Lincoln, and the horrible urgency of the Civil War. There are several other interesting facts about Franklin Pierce's early life and presidential term here. In the period after the Civil War, Republicans controlled New Hamphire politics and efforts to commemorate the state's only native born president languished until the 20th century. The bronze statue on the state house grounds was commissioned by the state under controversy, hastily manufactured by Jonathan Williams foundry of New York City, and then dedicated in 1914. This statue appears to be the only major such tribute found anywhere. It shows him in a dignified standing pose, an the inscription says little more than when he was president. Concord is also the location of the Pierce family mansion and Franklin Pierce's grave.
Wikipedia provides a excellent architectural description of the 1818 New Hampshire State Capitol Building Here. Designed by Stuart Park, who also designed the state prison from where labor was found to shape the smooth the granite blocks for the building, this domed building surely provides as small but early prototype of the domed capitol buildings now found throughout the USA. In fact, much of the granite quarried right in Concord provided the foundation and facing for a good many capitol buildings, monuments, and statues across America. In any case, the 2 acre plus grounds provide a pleasant stroll right off the main street of Concord. The building has been added mostly to on the back, but much remains the same. The cast iron lamps are clearly very early, as are the window air conditioners on the backside of the structure.
When in Concord and looking for something low-key to do with young children, check out Kimball Park for an hour or so. It's located at 171 North State Street in Concord (a stone's throw from a Rite Aid, for your reference). The park has a medium-sized play area with structures suitable for most young kids through 'tweens. The play area is not shaded, though a couple of picnic tables sit beneath shady trees.
The park is attached to a Public Swimming Pool which (when we went) was sparkling clean and not crowded. Best of all, about one-third of the large pool is roped off for kids' play and is only two feet deep. There's a large, circular step entrance into the pool and a ramp, which makes getting in very easy for little ones. A nice surprise is that entrance to the pool is completely free.
The pool area has bathrooms and a water fountain which are not accessible when the pool is closed, so plan accordingly. The pool is open for public swim in the summer from 12:30-4:30. There are also evening hours, but I'm not sure what they are. As always, I would recommend calling ahead to see if they will actually be open when you plan on going (Dept of Recreation number: 603-225-8690).
Upon entering the New Hampshire State House Chamber I was immediately struck by it's larger than usual size, both on the main floor and in the visitors gallery.
Although New Hampshire is one of the smallest states and has one of the smaller state capitol buildings, it has an unusually large House of Representatives with 400 members. These Representatives come from 103 districts across the state created from divisions of the state's counties. New Hampshire has one legislature for every 3,000 residents in the state. If the U.S. Congress had the same ratio of representation nationwide it would require a House of Representatives with approximately 99,000 members.
The seat of government for New Hampshire, the State House is the oldest State Capitol Building in the United States in which the state legislative bodies still meet in their original chambers. The imposing structure, built of New Hampshire Granite in 1815-1818, is capped with a beautiful gold dome which is both a landmark and a monument.
I took a self guided tour of the capitol building in which I saw the Hall of Flags and the portraits of generations of leaders along the corridors, as well as the House and Senate chambers. I also enjoyed browsing in the gift shop which is just off the lobby area. Being there in July, when the legislature was not in session, I found the building mostly empty. I'm sure it is a beehive of activity at other times.
The State House Visitors Center is open year round. Self guided tours may be taken any time. Guided tours are scheduled for groups of 10 or more.
Monday through Friday
8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.