Blast From the Past: The origin of Old Home Week

The State House, all stately decorated for the first-ever Old Home Week. Courtesy of N.H. Historical Society
The State House, all stately decorated for the first-ever Old Home Week. Courtesy of N.H. Historical Society

New Hampshire Gov. Frank Rollins was concerned because many people across New Hampshire were abandoning their farms and homes to travel west in search of a better life. There were government homesteading programs as well as other incentives to travel west.

Rollins addressed the issue with thoughts of methods he could use to retain the citizens of New Hampshire and not lose them to the west. The governor encouraged people to stay and “spruce up” the abandoned farms, homes and municipal buildings in their communities.

With the idea of a new celebration in mind called “Old Home Week,” Rollins established an association and set in motion the very first Old Home Week celebrations in 44 communities across New Hampshire. There was great fanfare and many celebrations across New Hampshire with decorations, parades, picnics and fireworks. The people listened and did in fact “spruce up” their properties and showed much pride in ownership. This Old Home Week celebration spread across the United States and into Canada, even reaching Australia.

To this day, many communities still celebrate Old Home Week, a celebration that started back in August of 1899 with a thought from our own Frank Rollins.

I might add, this thought was conceived as Rollins sat in his library at his home in the north end of Concord in a building that we know as the St. Peter’s Rectory.

Author: James W. Spain II / For the Insider

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