A look into the families of the greater Hanover community
Hanover, New Hampshire is home to 11,260 people, according to the 2010 census. Dartmouth students make up a good portion, with 20- to 24-year-olds occupying 25.5 percent of the population, according to the census. The next biggest percentages of the population, however, are 15- to 19-year-olds at 16.9 percent and 50- to 54-year-olds at 5.2 percent. In addition, 57.6 percent of the households in Hanover belong to families. In other words, Hanover families have a large stake in the Hanover experience. Living in a college town, they are inextricably linked to Dartmouth.
Hanover town manager Julia Griffin first came to Hanover in 1996, from a previous position as city manager in Concord, New Hampshire, to raise her now 28- and 21-year-old children. One of her main reasons for moving to Hanover was the school system. Hanover High School, which was established in 1888, was listed as one of America’s Best High Schools by Businessweek in 2009.
“As a parent, often your number one priority is finding a high quality public school system for your children,” Griffin said.
Pattie Fried, who co-owns the local staple Lou’s with her husband, has lived in Hanover for 25 years. Even after their initial purchase of Lou’s, the Frieds did not make the decision to move to Hanover until their son started school.
“When our son was starting school, we were worried about the school system where we were living,” Fried said. “It was all for the school.”
According to Griffin, high school students also have the option of taking courses at the College for free. Her children both took anthropology courses at the College their senior year. The high school often serves to connect many families to the larger Dartmouth community.
“The time when you tend to know the most people as a family in the community is when your kids are in school,” Griffin said.
Griffin also said that high schoolers like to spend time on Dartmouth’s campus, from studying at Baker-Berry Library to eating at the Collis Center.
“I’m not sure that the Dartmouth students always appreciate having high school students in their midst, but if you put yourself in a local high school student’s position, you might think it’s sort of cool to hang out with slightly older students across the street on the Dartmouth campus,” Griffin said.
Many Hanover residents are also fans of Dartmouth sports teams, and they attend everything from women’s volleyball to men’s basketball, according to Griffin. When Griffin was raising her daughters, they were “big Dartmouth women’s basketball fans and also Dartmouth women’s volleyball [fans], because [her daughter] played volleyball.” The College also attracts world class professionals, from atheletes to artists, providing an abundance of opportunities for local high school students. Both of her daughters were rowers in high school and were taught by former rowers on the U.S. National Team.
“How cool is it that the coaches in rural Hanover, New Hampshire are Olympic-caliber rowers?” Griffin said.
Many Dartmouth students are also very active in the community. Griffin said that she has seen them as coaches and art teachers. Fried echoed a similar sentiment, noting that they have tended her garden, helped her move and babysat for her.
“When our son went off to college, I had nobody to help me schlep stuff in the garden, and so I would put a temporary job ad in student employment and just had some amazing luck,” Fried said. “It’s been really wonderful that way.”
Fried also said that she appreciates the “beautiful diversity” that comes with the college, which inspired their family to take in an exchange student from Korea while their son was in Korea. After a car ran over the student’s foot and Fried cared for her, the student’s family in Korea were very grateful. They later nursed Fried’s son through an illness.
“It would have been a disaster for him if they hadn’t been here,” Fried said. “If we didn’t have these international students coming from all over the world, how lucky were we that her parents were able to jump in and help?”
Griffin also describes living near the College as “intellectually stimulating.”
“As a family [in Hanover], you [end up] never trying to figure out what you’re going to do that’s fun and interesting on a weekend or after school,” she said.
She said that she also appreciates Hanover’s proximity to large cities such as Boston, Montreal and New York, in case families ever do face that boredom. This has been the case since vice president of the Hanover Historical Society Nancy Mitchell’s childhood, and she remembers attending lectures and plays at Dartmouth Hall and the former Webster Hall, which is now called Rauner.
“Robert Frost would come to read poetry,” she said.
Biological sciences professor Mark McPeek also said that his family is full of people who love the outdoors, including the physical landscape and activities available in the area.
Both Griffin and Fried mentioned Hanover’s high level of safety. As another factor, Fried said that this was especially important when her daughter was young because she would often run away.
“It’s one of the scariest things ever, and we’ve been in some places where it’s been a nightmare, but here, Mary at Mainstreet Kitchens knows [her] and Rosy at Traditionally Trendy knows [her], so she kind of grew up with that as her community and her safety net,” Fried said.
The College and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center also employ a large portion of the town, which results in a generally positive attitude towards the institutions, Griffin said.
Mitchell describes the relationship between the College and Hanover as a “town gown” relationship, a term used to refer to college towns. This relationship is ultimately not without its roadblocks.
“Lou’s is a really good example of where town and gown mesh,” Fried said.
Lou’s often has a larger influx of college students on the weekend and a large number of families during the week. Fried said that one reason for this is that the local families know the college students come in on the weekend, and try to avoid it for that reason. According to Griffin said that residents mainly have problems with students when they are neighbors. Whether it is late noise, trash on the sidewalks or multiple cars taking up the parking lot, Griffin said that neighbors will say, “‘Gosh, I love them, bless their heart, but they’re a pain to live next to because they’re slobs.’”
Another problem residents sometimes experience is the ever-expanding college campus. Director of the Dartmouth Real Estate Office Ellen Arnold helps manage this issue. When the College begins building on land, especially on the outskirts, the office often receives complaints from residents, Arnold said.
“It’s important for us to maintain a good relationship with the town, both with Hanover government and the community at large,” Arnold said. “So we try to be a good neighbor.”
However, looking back on the history of the town and the College, they have often evolved simultaneously and synergistically. They have been intertwined since the College’s inception in 1769. At first, the town and the College were separated, but farmers with cows brought the two communities together. Since then, their relationship has become more complex. Mitchell said that one of the main differences is the number of cars in Hanover. In the 1950s, people began to use cars much more instead of bikes, and the town had to limit parking spaces, installing parking meters and giving out parking passes. In the next few decades, young boys started to come up for summer camp, and women came up on big weekends like Green Key. Activity in the town really started to pick up when the College expanded to include women in its student population in the 1970s, Mitchell said.
Since then, the population of Hanover has expanded even more, but Mitchell does not believe that this changes the character of the town.
“Hanover’s always been a vibrant town,” she said.
Mitchell also believes that the “town gown” relationship is less troubled than most.
“Compared to other towns that we read about or that we’ve lived in — my husband worked for IBM for 20 years, so we’ve been in six different communities on the east coast — I think they’ve worked very well here together,” she said. “I’m very, very pleased to see that.”