Harrisville is the quintessential New England village, full of historic charm likely to induce nostalgia for days old. The town is located on the southwest corner of New Hampshire, inside the Monadnock Region.
The place was first settled in 1774 as Twitchell’s Mills, so named for the combination sawmill and gristmill that was originally built here. The Harrisville Township was formed later in 1870, named after Milan Harris whose stone and brick Cheshire Mills operated until 1970 and appear virtually unchanged to this day. Harrisville became a textile mill town in the last half of the 19th century.
The town remains a historic, well-preserved, and photogenic 19th-century mill town, now protected as part of the Harrisville Historic District.
Harrisville Pond is a 138-acre water body fed by Nubanusit Lake on the north side, with the village of Harrisville located at the outlet of the pond near a dam.
Standing on the southern end of Harrisville Pond, one can see the white steeple of the Community Church of Harrisville on Canal Street (circa 1842), the federal-style Harrisville Public Library made of red brick, a yellow house from the 18th century, and a very-red boathouse on the right. On a calm day, each of these history buildings casts it own reflection in Harrisville Pond, waiting to be recorded by patient photographers.
BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH
Harrisville can be photographed at either sunrise or sunset, although the potential for catching a calm reflection tends to be higher in the early morning hours. At sunset, the historic buildings along Harrisville Pond are lit from either the front or the side, depending on time of year. The structures are backlit at sunrise, although there’s more chance of getting colorful clouds on party-cloudy or mostly-cloudy morns.
In winter, Harrisville Pond is covered over with ice and snow so there can be no reflection, but fresh snow cover can be very photogenic on its own. Probably the most photogenic season is at the peak of autumn foliage, when the trees along the shores of Harrisville Pond sport a coat of yellow, orange, and red color.
Getting to Harrisville is easy. This is a small town, so just set your GPS to Main Street and you’ll soon find yourself in the town center. There’s a small parking area on Island Street (past Canal Street), just behind the red boathouse. Park here, and walk along the southern end of Harrisville Pond for the classic scene.
In addition to capturing the iconic image, be sure to also check out the view across the mill ponds along Main Street — these afford nice views of the 19th-century church and brick mill buildings.
Not much danger for the photographer here, aside from falling into one of the ponds. This is a friendly little town but do be respectful of private property. And enjoy the historic view!