About Summer Street

Summer Street is Peterborough's connection to:
- the town's fire fighting history
- the old baseball field, used until 1915
- historic homes along the western bank of the Contoocook River

Geographical Context

On the opposite (west) bank of the river, Summer Street is another route to the north part of town. It was built in stages, ca. 1830, 1847 and 1855 (Smith and Morison 1876:192-194). The southern end of Summer Street, near Main, developed with a mix of commercial and residential buildings. [page 6]

Other New Streets

The first houses on Summer Street were built in the early 1830s and were already there when the road was officially laid out by the town in 1845 (Sanderson 2000:48). Summer was a dead-end until ca. 1855 when it was completed as an alternate route to the North Village. [page 12]


Summer Street residents worked as shoemakers (4), basket-makers (2), cabinetmaker, painter, iron worker, farmer (3) and farm laborer (2). Young women worked as teacher, weaver, and dressmaker (2). [page 15]

Commercial Blocks

The Farnsworth Block stood on the corner of Summer Street. [page 17]


The railroad trestle north of the Main Street Bridge was removed down to the bottoms of the pilings and the tracks along Summer Street were taken up in 1956 (PHS 1996 I:86). Between Peterborough and points south, the Monadnock Railroad remained in business... On Summer Street by the railroad tracks an oil dealer was established ca. 1920. This has been A.W. Peters gas and fuel oil business since ca. 1950 (35 Summer St.). [page 25]


The last blacksmith in town, John Downing, had a shop on Summer Street from 1928 through the 1940s (not extant, part of Fire Station lot) (Morrison 1954:427; Sanborn 1941). [page 26] 

New Public Facilities

The present fire station on Summer Street was built as the town garage around 1950. [page 27] 

Residential Cape Cod House

15 Summer Street (Photos 183) is now a two-and-a-half-story, side-gable, five-bay house. This restored frame house is said to date to this period. At the time of work in the late twentieth century, the owner found evidence that the building was originally a one-and- a-half-story Cape (Martins 1988). Historic maps show it was raised to its present size by 1886. [page 34]

Transitional Capes with Stove-Flue Chimneys or High Posts//Knee Walls

The Job Hill House (14 Summer Street, Photo 182), built ca. 1831, is a rare brick example of this type in the historic district. Historic photos show the stove-flue chimney location has been altered. The house is connected to its neighbor, 12 Summer Street, which was constructed sometime between 1858 and 1886. [page 40]

Larger End Houses

12 Summer Street (Photo 182), traditionally dated to ca. 1860 has a Greek Revival frontispiece on the gable end and connects to 14 Summer Street. [page 44]

Gable Blocks

Later in this period builders began to incorporate the new and fashionable Italianate period details to new houses ... 13 Summer Street (Photo 183) is a comparatively rare three-bay example. [page 45] 

19 Summer Street (Photo 184) is distinctive small one-story three-part building, built sometime between 1830 and 1858. The walls are clad with batten and boarding siding while the gable roof is a standing metal seam roof. Local builders also constructed variations of the side-gable, single-pile house, with integral stove-flue end chimneys. [page 46]

Duplexes/“Block of Two Houses”

The district also examples of the more common five-bay, two- or two-and-a-half-story duplexes, including ... 3-5 Summer Street (Photo 181), likely built ca. 1840, both with replacement siding and/or windows. [page 47]


The historic district includes a number of small, frame commercial buildings from this period though many of them have altered fenestration, including replacement windows, replacement siding, and additions... 1 Summer Street (Photo 180) is a one-story, four-bay, side-gabled shop built in the 1920s or 1930s. [page 59]


Some of the earliest new construction in this period was on previously undeveloped lots on Summer, Concord, and Grove streets. In 1951 the town constructed a town garage, a one-story brick rectangular building (16 Summer Street, Photo 185). The structure was expanded slightly with a small one-story front addition at the south end in 1971 to become the Peterborough Fire Station and to house the department offices, replacing the earlier building on Main Street. The building features five garage bays (four of equal size) at the north end. [page 67]

Contoocook River pilings of RR trestle 1878/1956 Potential archaeological site

Only the bottoms of the pilings remain of the railroad trestle bridge over the Contoocook just north of the Main Street Bridge. Rows of low timber piles project just above the surface of the river, a barely visible reminder of the former railroad context. This was the Northern Railroad, completed north of Peterborough in 1878. It operated through the early twentieth century. Passenger service on the Northern did not resume after the 1936 flood. In 1942 freight traffic ended and the line was abandoned (Morison 1954:314). The tracks remained until 1956 when the railroad trestle was removed down to the bottoms of the pilings and the tracks along Summer Street were taken up (PHS 1996 I:86). Only small fragment of the structure remains, not enough to contribute to the historic district. However, it may have archaeological potential. [page 73]

Statement of Integrity

One house on Summer Street was taken down for Fire Station parking. [page 83]

SOURCE: Driemeyer, Laura; Laprey, Kari; Monroe, Lynn; and Hill, Teresa. New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, Area Form, Peterborough Downtown Historic District, June 2010