Roadside History: Bradford Center

September 08. 2017 7:56PM
The Bradford Center Meetinghouse on Rowe Mountain Road. 

New Hampshire historical marker number: 108.

Date established: 1976 in Bradford.

Location: By the Bradford Center Meetinghouse, 18 Rowe Mountain Road, east of Center Road.

What the sign says: "This Common, designated the geographical center of the town in 1791, at one time was bordered by the Town Pound, constructed in 1789, the existing District One School, built in 1793, and the still standing Congregational Society Meeting House, dedicated in 1838. This also marks the site of the first Meeting House in the Town of Bradford. Erected in 1797, it was dismantled in 1863, moved to Bradford Village and re-erected as the Town Hall site."

The back story: The Congregational Society Meeting House, known as the Bradford Center Meetinghouse, was built in 1838 for religious use in response to state legislation mandating the separation of church and state. Today, the Greek Revival-style building is maintained by the Union Congregational Society, a nondenominational, nonprofit organization that works to preserve the meetinghouse. The building is now used as a place of worship and for community activities and private events, including weddings and concerts. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

The town's original meetinghouse, built in 1796 in Bradford Center, had been used for both religious and civic purposes. This meetinghouse was dismantled in 1863 and its massive timbers were used to build the Bradford Town Hall in Bradford Village, at a location closer to the railroad. The 2½-story wood-frame building on West Main Street has both Greek Revival and Neo-Georgian characteristics. An effort is underway to renovate the building, which was listed on the National Register in 1980.

The Center Burial Ground also is located in Bradford Center.

Sources: National Register of Historic Places; www.bradfordnh.org; Wikipedia.


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