Cruise through Londonderry’s History this Fall

Oct 10, 2013 No Comments by

As the leaves change to their brilliant oranges, reds, purples and yellows in Londonderry and the town’s four farms draw thousands of visitors each weekend, there’s one way to truly enjoy the country scenery. Take a leisurely drive down one of the state’s designated scenic byways, The Apple Way.

Apple Way consists of several back roads, each winding past cultural and historical landmarks that make up Londonderry. These roads include Gilcreast Road, Pillsbury Road, High Range Road, Elwood Road, Adams Road, and Mammoth Road. On each of these roads, homes and landmarks dot the landscape, each with a history of its own.

Begin the tour on Gilcreast Road near Londonderry Square and travel north on Gilcreast Road. The saltbox house on the right is part of the Dutton Farm, where maple syrup was first produced in Londonderry. Sugar maples are still tapped each spring on this property. Next, turn east onto Pillsbury Road.

Seen here is one class, unknown year, in front of School House #1 located on Hardy Road. The building still stands today and looks much the same.

Pillsbury Road takes visitors past the now-sold Woodmont Orchards, once part of the Rosecrans Pillsbury Farm, which was a pioneer in the use of refrigeration in the American apple industry. Turn around, then turn north onto Pillsbury, to the intersection of Pillsbury and Hardy roads. Here on the right is School House #1, the first public school in Londonderry where one teacher taught children grades first through eighth.

Seen here is an historical image of the Presbyterian Church on the corner of Pillsbury and Mammoth roads.

Turn west to remain on Pillsbury Road and on the left will be Valley Cemetery, the second oldest cemetery in town. Further down on the left is Anderson Lane. At the end of this road was the site of the Anderson Slaughterhouse, a thriving operation in the 1800’s. On the corner of Pillsbury Road and Mammoth Road sits a number of buildings and landmarks with rich history.

Here, visitors can find the Presbyterian Church, established in 1735 but built on this corner in 1837; it remains the oldest continuing Presbyterian congregation in New England. Also located at this intersection are the Grange #44, organized in 1875; the Lion’s Hall, the oldest public building in Londonderry; The Methodist Church, building in 1856; and the Londonderry Town Common, which was once part of a land grant belonging to Matthew Thornton, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Crossing Mammoth Road and continuing west on Pillsbury Road takes visitors past the Morrison House. Here sits a circa 1760 cottage style farmhouse built by one of Londonderry’s founding families, along with a circa 1840 blacksmith shop and 1859 barn. The barn was the last in Londonderry that was assembled through a community barn-raising.

Here stands the Lions Hall looking just the same as it does today.

Further west on Pillsbury Road where the stream crosses the road is Flax Retting Brook. Also along this road is Plummer’s Place, a farm and summer boarding house where Mrs. Plummer would put her men to work peeling apples for pies that would feed as many as 40 guests. On the corner of Pillsbury Road and High Range Road still sits the Victorian home Maplehurst. This was also once used as a summer boarding house and stands on the site of the James Patterson farm, dating back to 1770.

Turn south onto High Range Road and directly to the right is Bear Meadow Farm. Once owned by the Hurd family, the farm was once a dairy farm. Further south, across from Wiley Hill Road, on High Range Road is Jackson Hall. Jackson Hall had a store downstairs and guest rooms above. Originally known as Bell Tavern, the hall was renamed after President Andrew Jackson stopped there on his way to Concord.

Lithia Springs was a popular water company long ago.

Sunnycrest Farm is also located on High Range Road. The farm was established in 1943 by the Conner family. Today, visitors can pick apples, strawberries, blueberries, fresh produce and flowers. Further south is Lithia Springs, which was discovered when cows wandered away from the Avery pasture. The water was bottled and sold to Bostonians.

Turning west onto Elwood Road takes visitors to Elwood Orchards, an active farm since the 1800’s. The homestead dates back to 1820. Wayland Elwood purchased the orchard in 1910 and the 250 acre farm still grows apples and other fruit, as well as features hay rides and an eight acre corn maze.

Backtracking towards High Range Road, turn north onto High Range and continue until Adams Road. Turn east onto Adams, which was home to large farm estates owned by families such as the Adams, Bolles, Kings, Whittemore and Sleeper families. Located on Adams was the Breezy Hill Farm, which once served as a bed and breakfast, and the Wycoff Palm Leaf Hat Factory, which was run by John Wycoff’s widow; John was killed in the Civil War.

Adams Road ends at Mammoth Road, where visitors can see School House #2 on the corner of Peabody Row and Mammoth Road. The schoolhouse was built with two separate entrances for boys and girls. Heading south on Mammoth will bring visitors to Twin Gate Farm, now a riding school. The farm was originally established in 1956 as a summer riding camp for boys and girls. Further south is the Robie House, a Victorian style home built in 1880, and the Coach Stop restaurant, a popular stagecoach stop in the 1800’s, which was originally called Plummer’s Tavern.

Here is the Plummer Tavern, pictured restored in color on an old postcard.

Traveling north on Mammoth Road brings visitors to the Mack Family Homestead at Moose Hill Orchards. The homestead was built in the late 1700’s and updated about 100 years later. The horse and cattle barn here predate the homestead. The Mack family began one of the first commercial orchards in Londonderry, Mack’s Apples. North of Mack’s is Glenwood Cemetery on the left. The cemetery was established in 1869 and marks the end of Apple Way.

Browse this Google map for detailed directions on traveling along Apple Way here in Londonderry!

View Apple Way in a larger map

Outdoors, Transportation

About the author

Jacklynn has been a resident in Londonderry since the age of 5. She grew up in a quiet neighborhood and went through the great school system. She has fond memories of bike riding through town in the spring and summer, sledding in the winter, and apple and pumpkin picking in the fall. She now has children of her own and looks forward to raising them in the same town she enjoyed so much as a youth.
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