North Lincoln Street in 1892

Courtesy Historical Society of Cheshire County

North Lincoln Street in Keene, as shown on a city map circa 1892.

In 1876, George Street was laid out in the northern part of Keene, opening to development the area to the east of northern Washington Street. New homes were soon built in this area. This new road, however, created trouble in Woodland Cemetery.

It seems that Teamsters and other workmen found the roadways through the cemetery much shorter and more convenient than Washington Street when they were traveling from the George Street area to the Beaver Street area. Consequently, they drove their wagons through the cemetery rather than going around. This heavy use of the cemetery roadways concerned the City Council. As a result, in May of 1886, Cemetery Street was built connecting Beaver Street and George Street to reduce the heavy traffic through the cemetery.

The Keene City report for 1886 outlines the construction of Cemetery Street. The cost for construction of this half mile of road was $165. Because this new street ran north from the intersection of Beaver Street and Lincoln Street, it was soon renamed North Lincoln Street. The southernmost section of the existing Lincoln Street was then renamed South Lincoln Street.

The year 1886 was a busy year for the city highway department. Six new streets were built, including Sullivan, Wilber, North Lincoln and Willow streets, and portions of Elm and Railroad streets. The cost of building these roads was somewhat less than the construction costs we are familiar with today. Overall, approximately two miles of new roads were built, at a cost of $1,012.50, or about $506 per mile.

Alan F. Rumrill is executive director of the Historical Society of Cheshire County, which has been collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the region since 1927. It’s on Main Street. To learn more about its public programs and collections, visit hsccnh.org.