Dover, New Hampshire

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Dover, New Hampshire
City Hall
City Hall
Official seal of Dover, New Hampshire
Nickname(s): The Garrison City
Location within New Hampshire
Location within New Hampshire
Coordinates: 43°11′41″N 70°52′30″W / 43.19472°N 70.87500°W / 43.19472; -70.87500Coordinates: 43°11′41″N 70°52′30″W / 43.19472°N 70.87500°W / 43.19472; -70.87500
Country United States
State New Hampshire
County Strafford
Settled 1623
Incorporated 1623 (town)
Incorporated 1855 (city)
 • City Manager Mike Joyal
 • Mayor Karen Weston
 • City Council Robert Carrier
Catherine Cheney
Jason Gagnon
William Garrison III
Dorothea Hooper
Anthony McManus
John O'Connor
Deborah Thibodeaux
 • Total 29.0 sq mi (75.2 km2)
 • Land 26.7 sq mi (69.2 km2)
 • Water 2.3 sq mi (6.0 km2)  7.96%
Elevation 50 ft (15 m)
Population (2014 estimate)
 • Total 30,665
 • Density 1,148/sq mi (443.1/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 03820-03822
Area code(s) 603
FIPS code 33-18820
GNIS feature ID 0866618

Dover is a city in Strafford County, New Hampshire, in the United States of America. The population was 29,987 at the 2010 census,[1] the largest in the New Hampshire Seacoast region. The population was estimated at 30,665 in 2014.[2] It is the county seat of Strafford County, and home to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, the Woodman Institute Museum, and the Children's Museum of New Hampshire.



The first known European to explore the region was Martin Pring from Bristol, England, in 1603. In 1623, William and Edward Hilton settled Cochecho Plantation, adopting its Abenaki name, making Dover the oldest permanent settlement in New Hampshire, and seventh in the United States.[3] One of the colony's four original townships, it then included Durham, Madbury, Newington, Lee, Somersworth and Rollinsford.

The Hiltons' name survives at Hilton Park on Dover Point (which was originally known as Hilton Point), where the brothers settled near the confluence of the Bellamy and Piscataqua rivers. They were fishmongers sent from London by The Company of Laconia to establish a colony and fishery on the Piscataqua. In 1631, however, it contained only three houses. William Hilton built a salt works on the property (salt-making was the principal industry in his hometown of Northwich, England). He also served as Deputy to the General Court (the colonial legislature).[4][5][6]

In 1633, Cochecho Plantation was bought by a group of English Puritans who planned to settle in New England, including Viscount Saye and Sele, Baron Brooke and John Pym. They promoted colonization in America, and that year Hilton's Point received numerous immigrants, many from Bristol. They renamed the settlement Bristol. Atop the nearby hill they built a meetinghouse surrounded by an entrenchment, with a jail nearby.[7]


The town was called Dover in 1637 by the new governor, Reverend George Burdett. It was possibly named after Robert Dover, an English lawyer who resisted Puritanism.[8] With the 1639 arrival of Thomas Larkham, however, it was renamed after Northam in Devon, where he had been preacher. But Lord Saye and Sele's group lost interest in their settlements, both here and at Saybrook, Connecticut, when their plan to establish a hereditary aristocracy in the colonies met disfavor in New England. Consequently, the plantation was sold in 1641 to Massachusetts and again named Dover.

Settlers built fortified log houses called garrisons, inspiring Dover's nickname "The Garrison City." The population and business center shifted upriver from Dover Point to Cochecho Falls, its drop of 34 feet (10 m) providing water power for industry (Cochecho means "the rapid foaming water.")[9]

Cochecho Massacre[edit]

Main article: Raid on Dover

On June 28, 1689, Dover suffered a devastating attack by Indians. It was revenge for an incident on September 7, 1676, when 400 braves were duped by Major Richard Waldron into performing a "mock battle" near Cochecho Falls. After discharging their weapons, the braves were captured. Half were sent to Massachusetts for predations committed during King Philip's War, then either hung or sold into slavery. Local braves deemed innocent were released, but considered the deception a dishonorable breach of hospitality. Thirteen years passed. When colonists thought the episode forgotten, they struck. Fifty-two colonists, a quarter of the population, were either captured or slain.

During Father Rale's War, in August and September 1723, there were Indian raids on Saco, Maine and Dover, New Hampshire.[10] The following year Dover was raided again and Elizabeth Hanson wrote her captivity narrative.

Mill era[edit]

Child laborers at Cocheco Manufacturing Company in 1909, photo by Lewis Hine.

Located at the head of navigation, Cochecho Falls brought the Industrial Revolution to 19th-century Dover in a big way. The Dover Cotton Factory was incorporated in 1812, then enlarged in 1823 to become the Dover Manufacturing Company. In 1827, the Cocheco Manufacturing Company was founded (the misspelling a clerical error at incorporation), which in 1829 purchased the Dover Manufacturing Company. Expansive brick mills, linked by railroad, were constructed downtown. Incorporated as a city in 1855, Dover for a time became a leading national producer of textiles.

The mills were purchased in 1909 by the Pacific Mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts, which closed the printery in 1913 but continued spinning and weaving. During the Great Depression, however, textile mills no longer dependent on New England water power began moving to southern states in search of cheaper operating conditions, or simply went out of business. Dover's millyard shut in 1937, then was bought at auction in 1940 by the city itself for $54,000. There were no other bids. Now called the Cocheco Falls Millworks, its tenants include technology and government services companies, plus a restaurant.[11][12]

Antique postcards[edit]

Geography and transportation[edit]

Downtown Dover

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.0 square miles (75.2 km2), of which 26.7 square miles (69.2 km2) is land and 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2) is water, comprising 7.96% of the city.[1] Dover is drained by the Cochecho and Bellamy rivers. Long Hill, elevation greater than 300 feet (91 m) above sea level and located 3 miles (4.8 km) northwest of the city center, is the highest point in Dover. Garrison Hill, elevation approximately 290 ft (88 m), is a prominent hill rising directly above the center city, with a park and lookout tower on top. Dover lies fully within the Piscataqua River (Coastal) watershed.[13]

The city is crossed by New Hampshire Route 4, New Hampshire Route 9, New Hampshire Route 16 (the Spaulding Turnpike), New Hampshire Route 16B, New Hampshire Route 108, and New Hampshire Route 155. It is bordered by the town of Newington to the south (across the inlet to Great Bay), Madbury to the southwest, Barrington and Rochester to the northwest, Somersworth and Rollinsford to the northeast. South Berwick, Maine, lies to the northeast, across the tidal Salmon Falls River, and Eliot, Maine, is to the east, across the Piscataqua River.

The Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) operates a publicly funded bus network in Dover and surrounding communities in New Hampshire and Maine.[14] C&J Trailways is a private intercity bus carrier connecting Dover with other coastal New Hampshire and Massachusetts cities, including Boston.[15] Wildcat Transit, operated by the University of New Hampshire, provides bus service to Durham, which is free for students and $1.50 for the public.[16] Amtrak's Downeaster train service stops at Dover station with service to the Portland Transportation Center and Boston's North Station.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 1,998
1800 2,062 3.2%
1810 2,228 8.1%
1820 2,871 28.9%
1830 5,449 89.8%
1840 6,458 18.5%
1850 8,196 26.9%
1860 8,502 3.7%
1870 9,294 9.3%
1880 11,687 25.7%
1890 12,790 9.4%
1900 13,207 3.3%
1910 13,247 0.3%
1920 13,029 −1.6%
1930 13,573 4.2%
1940 13,990 3.1%
1950 15,874 13.5%
1960 19,131 20.5%
1970 20,850 9.0%
1980 22,377 7.3%
1990 25,042 11.9%
2000 26,884 7.4%
2010 29,987 11.5%
Est. 2014 30,665 [17] 2.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]

As of the census of 2010, there were 29,987 people, 12,827 households, and 7,059 families residing in the city. The city grew by 3,103 residents between 2000 and 2010, the largest numeric growth of any town or city in New Hampshire. The population density in 2010 was 1,123.1 people per square mile (433.3/km²). There were 13,685 housing units at an average density of 512.5 per square mile (197.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.6% White, 1.7% African American, 0.20% Native American, 4.6% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.6% some other race, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.2% of the population.[19]

There were 12,827 households, out of which 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.8% were headed by married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.0% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.6% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27, and the average family size was 2.89.[19]

In the city the population was spread out with 20.3% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.7 years. For every 100 females there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.0 males.[1]

For the period 2009–11, the estimated median annual income for a household in the city was $55,040, and the median income for a family was $69,980. Male full-time workers had a median income of $51,891 versus $36,167 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,590. About 6.8% of families and 8.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.2% of those under age 18 and 5.9% of those age 65 or over.[20]


The Dover School District consists of approximately 3600 pupils, attending Horne Street Elementary School, Garrison Elementary School, Woodman Park Elementary School, Dover Middle School and Dover High School. Dover High's athletic teams are known as The Green Wave, and the middle school's teams are The Little Green.

Saint Mary Academy, a Catholic school, has been in downtown Dover since 1912, currently serving around 200 students from pre-kindergarten to 8th grade. Many students at Saint Mary's subsequently attend St. Thomas Aquinas High School, a Catholic high school located on Dover Point.

Portsmouth Christian Academy is located west of the Bellamy River in Dover, serving preschool through 12th grade.[21]

The Cocheco Arts and Technology Academy (CATA) is a public charter high school with around 100 students. It was formerly located in Barrington, New Hampshire.

Notable people[edit]

Historic sites[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Dover city, New Hampshire". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014 (PEPANNRES): New Hampshire Incorporated Places". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved May 21, 2015. 
  3. ^ Stackpole, Everett Schermerhorn (1916). History of New Hampshire. New York: The American Historical Society. ISBN 978-1-115-84294-5. 
  4. ^ Palmer, Ansell W., ed. Piscataqua Pioneers: Selected Biographies of Early Settlers in Northern New England, pp. 14, 17, 18, 29, 33, 63, 232-3, Piscataqua Pioneers, Portsmouth, NH, 2000. ISBN 0-9676579-0-3.
  5. ^ Anderson, R. C. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, pp. 951-7, vol. 2, New England Historical and Genealogical Society, Boston, 1995.
  6. ^ Scales, J. History of Dover, New Hampshire, pp. 311-13, facsimile of the 1923 edition, Heritage Books, 1989.
  7. ^ Jeremy Belknap, The History of New Hampshire, 1812
  8. ^ Haddon 2004, pp. 64–65
  9. ^ Dover Public Library, "Is it Spelled Cochecho or Cocheco?"
  10. ^ (William Williamson, p. 123)
  11. ^ "Cocheco Falls Millworks". Cocheco Falls Millworks. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  12. ^ Beaudoin, Cathleen. "A Yarn to Follow: The Dover Cotton Factory 1812—1821". Dover Public Library. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ "Take a closer look at COAST". Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  15. ^ "C&J: Connecting Dover, Durham, Portsmouth and Newburyport to Boston South Station and Logan Airport". Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  16. ^ "Wildcat Transit". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  17. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  19. ^ a b "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Dover city, New Hampshire". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Selected Economic Characteristics: 2009-2011 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates (DP03): Dover city, New Hampshire". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Portsmouth Christian Academy - In the News". Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  • Haddon, Celia (2004), The First Ever English Olimpick Games, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-86274-2 

External links[edit]

Sites of interest[edit]