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Brentwood, New Hampshire

Coordinates: 42°58′43″N 71°04′22″W / 42.97861°N 71.07278°W / 42.97861; -71.07278
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Brentwood, New Hampshire
Mary E. Bartlett Library
Mary E. Bartlett Library
Official seal of Brentwood, New Hampshire
Location in Rockingham County and the state of New Hampshire.
Location in Rockingham County and the state of New Hampshire.
Coordinates: 42°58′43″N 71°04′22″W / 42.97861°N 71.07278°W / 42.97861; -71.07278
CountryUnited States
StateNew Hampshire
Named forBrentwood, Essex
  • Brentwood
  • Brentwood Corners
  • Marshall Corner
 • Selectboard
  • Jennifer Jones, Chair
  • Andrew Artimovich
  • Jon Morgan
  • Paul Kleinman
  • Letty Bedard
 • Town AdministratorKaren Clement
 • Total17.0 sq mi (44.0 km2)
 • Land16.8 sq mi (43.6 km2)
 • Water0.2 sq mi (0.4 km2)  0.93%
115 ft (35 m)
 • Total4,490
 • Density267/sq mi (103.1/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code603
FIPS code33-07220
GNIS feature ID0873550

Brentwood is a town in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States. At the 2020 census, its population was 4,490.[2] Brentwood has been the county seat of Rockingham County[3] since 1997.


An Abenaki tribe called the Pennacook farmed, fished and hunted in what is now Brentwood. Two main foot trails ran through the town, one along the Exeter River, where arrowheads and other stone and wooden artifacts have been found. At Pickpocket Dam, this pathway joined with the Pentucket Trail leading south to Pentucket (now Haverhill, Massachusetts) and north further into Pennacook territory.

The first non-native settlers came in 1652 to start a sawmill powered by a waterfall on the Exeter River.[4]

Division and redivision[edit]

The town was once a part of Exeter known as Brentwood (or Brintwood) Parish. It was named after Brentwood, Essex, originally called "Burnt Wood", where, in 1177, King Henry II granted permission for 40 acres (160,000 m2) of the king's forest to be cut, burned and cultivated.

Beginning in 1738, residents living in the southwestern portion of Exeter, now Brentwood and Fremont, petitioned to be set off, but were denied. They cited difficulty of getting to the Exeter church/meetinghouse, where weekly attendance was obligatory, and the requirement to pay Exeter taxes.[5] Eighteen people wrote in dissent, saying that even the proposed new town would require travel more than two miles to a new meetinghouse.[6]: 4  On June 26, 1742, colonial governor Benning Wentworth set Brentwood off from Exeter and incorporated it.[7]

The meetinghouse was planned at "the west side of the 'Gully'", but those living south of the Exeter River said it was hard to reach in spring and fall. For a while, church was held at two venues, north and south of the river.[6]: 6 

Residents petitioned for a dividing line between the midpoints of the northern and southern boundaries. In 1744, Gov. Wentworth issued a King's Patent to establish a new town called "Keeneborough Parish", named after his friend, Sir Benjamin Keene (1697–1757), English minister to Spain. Brentwood continued to tax the residents of Keeneborough;[5] one resident was imprisoned for failing to pay, and the General Assembly called Wentworth's action a "usurpation."[6]: 8–9  Minister Nathaniel Trask reconciled the factions and Keeneborough reunited with Brentwood in 1750.[5] The westerners petitioned again for separation in 1757 and 1763. In 1764, Brentwood did divide, the western half calling itself "Poplin" (now Fremont).

After Rev. Trask's death in 1789, the Congregationalists lamented the decline of religion and morality in favor of alcohol. The town licensed its first "dram shop" in 1792 and licensed 28 of them over eleven years.[6]: 17–19  A handful of slaves were held in Brentwood, but none at the 1800 or subsequent censuses.[6]: 24 


Mills along the rivers produced lumber and manufactured goods in the early days. The economy later shifted towards agriculture. The town is now predominantly residential.

The Rockingham County Complex on North Road (the only road owned by the county) traces its history to 1916.[8] It was called the "poor farm" or the "county farm", but the only current farming is hay. It has administrative offices, a nursing home, and the county jail. In 1997, when county offices and courts moved from the Exeter courthouse to a former industrial headquarters off Calef Road, Brentwood became the county seat.

Retail development is focused along Calef Road, though home businesses exist elsewhere for historical reasons. There is an industrial zone in the northeast, along Pine Road, which spans Brentwood and Exeter. In 2012, Exeter, resenting the wear on its part of the road from heavy vehicles from the businesses in Brentwood, posted a weight limit on its part, which led to lengthy detours and a lawsuit and counter-suit.[9] These were settled in 2014, as the judge ruled that Exeter's posting was illegal. Brentwood had to reimburse Exeter, but only the amounts for upgrading Pine Road to handle the heavy vehicles.[10]

The 2014 fatal shooting of police officer Stephen Arkell, who arrived at a condominium to investigate a domestic disturbance,[11] led to many memorials and continuing events in his name, such as an annual 5K run. In 2021, the section of Route 125 within Brentwood was officially named the Officer Stephen Arkell Memorial Highway.[12][13]


Brentwood is a nearly square quadrangle, except that the town line follows the Exeter River in the southeastern corner. Brentwood has a total area of 17.0 square miles (44.0 km2), of which 16.8 square miles (43.6 km2) are land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km2) are water, comprising 0.93% of the town.[1] The highest point in Brentwood is Great Hill, at 275 feet (84 m) above sea level, whose summit is in the southeastern corner of the town.

The town is drained by the Exeter River and its tributary Dudley Brook. The Piscassic River, a tributary of the Lamprey River, crosses the northwestern corner of the town. Brentwood lies fully within the Piscataqua River (Coastal) watershed.[14]

Adjacent municipalities[edit]


Brentwood's executive is a five-person board of selectmen, serving staggered three-year terms and meeting weekly (biweekly in spring and summer).[15] Brentwood's legislature is a town meeting, held in March, at which every registered voter can vote on the annual town budget and amendments to it. The Swasey Elementary School has a separate town meeting. Classes above Grade 6 travel to regional schools in School Administrative Unit (SAU) 16.[16]

SAU 16 is governed by official ballot referendum (SB 2), in which there is a "deliberative" town meeting but the final vote is by secret ballot in all participating towns, at the same annual election at which voters elect town and school officials. Every town in SAU 16 votes on the representative(s) of it and of all other towns in SAU 16.

Citizen petitions have sought to change Brentwood's two town meetings to SB 2, but have always fallen short of the 60% vote required.


NH 101 exits serving Brentwood
Exit 7 NH 125 (Calef Road)
Exit 8 North Road to NH 27

Middle Road (Route 111A) runs east/west and bisects the town. Other east/west roads are North Road and South Road. Calef Road (Route 125) is the principal north/south road.

The expressway Route 101 approximately follows Brentwood's northern boundary. It provides access to Manchester and to the Seacoast. Route 101 crosses into northeast Brentwood, as does Route 27 (old 101) beyond it. Part of New England Dragway is in Brentwood.

Route 111A east to Exeter gains access to Route 7 of the COAST bus system,[17] and to a train station served by the Amtrak Downeaster.[18] At the park and ride lot off Calef Road just north of Brentwood, there is bus service to Boston, Massachusetts and its Logan Airport. Shuttle bus service can be arranged to Manchester Boston Regional Airport.[19]


The original church, on Route 111A, is now known as the Pilgrim United Church of Christ, Brentwood-Kingston.[20] In addition, Brentwood First Baptist Church has been at the same location since 1771.[21] Grace Ministries holds religious services and a Christian grade school in a former industrial building on Calef Road.[22] There is also a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which has two congregations.[23]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[2][24]

As of the census of 2010, there were 4,486 people, 1,319 households, and 1,087 families residing in the town. The population density was 267.0 inhabitants per square mile (103.1/km2). There were 1,350 housing units at an average density of 80.4 per square mile (31.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.3% White, 0.7% African American, 0.1% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.5% some other race, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.5% of the population.[25]

There were 1,319 households, out of which 46.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 71.6% were headed by married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.6% were non-families. 14.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.9% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.02, and the average family size was 3.33.[25]

In the town, the population was spread out, with 26.6% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 24.0% from 25 to 44, 28.8% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 106.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.6 males.[25]

For the period 2007–2011, the estimated median annual income for a household in the town was $110,250, and the median income for a family was $111,650. Male full-time workers had a median income of $69,565 versus $55,000 for females. The per capita income for the town was $37,385. About 1.0% of families and 2.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.2% of those under age 18 and 0.4% of those age 65 or over.[26]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2021 U.S. Gazetteer Files – New Hampshire". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Brentwood town, Rockingham County, New Hampshire: 2020 DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171)". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "Homepage of the Brentwood Historical Society, NH". www.brentwoodnhhistory.org.
  5. ^ a b c Rimkunas, Barbara (June 21, 2013). "The Secessionists". Exeter Historical Society.
  6. ^ a b c d e Dean, Benjamin Angier (April 25, 1889). "Annuals of the Brentwood, N.H. Congregational church and parish". Boston, T. W. Ripley – via Internet Archive.
  7. ^ Statistics and Gazetteer of New-Hampshire, 1875, page 76 Article in Statistics and Gazetteer of New-Hampshire (1875)]
  8. ^ "About [Rockingham County]". Rockingham County.
  9. ^ "Exeter sued over Pine Road weight limit". Seacoast Online. January 13, 2012.
  10. ^ Sanborn, Aaron (April 18, 2014). "Exeter dealt a blow in Pine Road lawsuit ruling". Seacoast Online.
  11. ^ "Brentwood, NH Mourns Slain Police Officer Stephen Arkell". CBS Boston. May 13, 2014. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  12. ^ Bailey, Kathleen D. (July 11, 2021). "A true Granite State hero: Route 125 named in honor of fallen Brentwood officer". Foster's Daily Democrat. Dover, New Hampshire. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  13. ^ LaCasse, Alex (January 28, 2020). "Bill would name Rt. 125 in Brentwood in honor of Stephen Arkell". seacoastonline.com. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  14. ^ Foster, Debra H.; Batorfalvy, Tatianna N.; Medalie, Laura (1995). Water Use in New Hampshire: An Activities Guide for Teachers. U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Geological Survey.
  15. ^ "Board of Selectmen". Town of Brentwood.
  16. ^ "Home - SAU 16 - Exeter NH". www.sau16.org.
  17. ^ "Bus Route 7: Exeter-Newmarket-Stratham". COAST Transportation Alliance.
  18. ^ "Home | Amtrak Downeaster". amtrakdowneaster.com.
  19. ^ Graham, Maren. "Home". Flight Line, Inc.
  20. ^ "Pilgrim UCC | Pilgrim United Church of Christ".
  21. ^ "Log into Facebook". Facebook. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  22. ^ "Grace Ministries International | home". gracemi.org.
  23. ^ "Jehovah's Witnesses; home".
  24. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  25. ^ a b c "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Brentwood town, Rockingham County, New Hampshire". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  26. ^ "Selected Economic Characteristics: 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (DP03): Brentwood town, Rockingham County, New Hampshire". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved February 1, 2013.

External links[edit]