Rocks Village

We have had the longest stretch of horrible humid weather in my memory: it’s been hot too, but it’s the humidity that gets you, of course. The only place I’ve really been comfortable is my car, and so when I drove up to Maine for vacation last week I took a diverted and long route to get there by giving myself a silly challenge: I had to cross the two rivers on my way–the Merrimack and the Piscataqua–on bridges that I had never traversed before. Going out of the way is one of my favorite things to do so this was a characteristic challenge. I can only do it when I’m on my own, as my husband has no patience for meandering, but he and I had conflicting obligations last week so we were in separate cars (the key to a happy marriage for us). My challenge turned a trip that normally takes one hour into a four-hour excursion (with stops along the way) and I was able to arrive in Maine just in time for cocktails on the porch. My route took me slightly west to Haverhill in Massachusetts and then northeast through New Hampshire to Dover: I had crossed the big bridges in both of those cities but not the smaller ones, over the Merrimack from West Newbury to Rocks Village in Haverhill and over the Piscataqua from Dover to South Berwick, Maine. I think I have probably been on both of these bridges but not for quite some time, so they still count! Going further west and north would have been a bit silly, even for me. I braked for darling houses, of course, and found my first cluster right over the bridge in Rocks Village, a colonial village in East Haverhill right on the river. Situated at a nexus of old roads leading to and along the Merrimack, Rocks Village emerged as a center of trade and industry in the eighteenth century but was bypassed as Haverhill became a bustling industrial center in the nineteenth. It has a slightly lost-in-time feeling about it, even though the owners of its charming houses are clearly keeping up appearances.

Rocks Village 7

Rocks Village 8

Rocks Village 6

Rocks Village

Rocks Village 14

Rocks Village 13

Rocks Village 9

Rocks Village 12

Rocks Village 11

Rocks Village 10

Rocks Village 3

Rocks Village 5

Rocks Village 1

Rocks Village 4

Right over the bridge from West Newbury you encounter the old tollbooth and the village Hand Tub House (for which the Rocks Village Memorial Association is raising restoration funds) and then all these wonderful houses. This is not an exhaustive portfolio, but my favorite is the last one above: interesting proportions, though you can’t tell from my photograph that it’s a saltbox. There’s a lot more to see in Haverhill but this village seems like a place apart: indeed, you can’t even find it on any of the maps of the bustling nineteenth-century city, which emphasize factories above all. After some leisurely searching, I finally found it on a map of the Newburys, dating from just about the time of the construction of the Hand Tub House.

Rocks Village Newburys MapRocks Village and Bridge on the 1831 map of the newly-divided Newburys (Newbury, Newburyport & West Newbury), Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library.

17 responses to “Rocks Village

  • fbradking

    WONDERFUL photos, Donna! What a great trip! fbking

  • Katherine Greenough

    Looks charming! I’ll try to get there for a visit! Thanks!
    Kathy Greenough

  • Carol J. Perry

    Thanks for sharing this delightful journey!

  • Helen Breen

    Hi Donna,

    Rock’s Village – who knew? Thanks for such a nice summer jaunt. That pumpkin colored house is striking. I have read that shade was very popular way back in the day.

    River banks have such interesting histories…

  • Robert Albert

    I did a similar drive last time I was back there; first to Haverhill and the home of some Eaton ancestors, then across the foot of NH and on up to York Village, ME for the coast and my Came roots. It was a wonderful drive

  • Maria Pride

    Hi Donna, I grew up in West Newbury just down the street from the last house you have pictured here. The houses on the Training Field were always some of my favorites. Rocks Village hasn’t changed much since I grew up around there, it’s still beautiful.

  • az1407t

    I loved this post! I have never heard of Rock Village. Somehow it got by me. Now it’s been added to my list of places to visit. Most of the homes you photographed appear to be in excellent condition. PS. Your photographs are always spectacular. What type of camera do you use?

    • daseger

      Thanks–yes, everyone has taken very good care of their houses. I just use my Samsung phone camera, but I take a LOT of shots, choose the best, and then fine tune them on pixlr.

  • Pearl

    Lovely! Been wanting to get to Haverhill for ages. Read something a long time ago that references a magical water well located there. Can’t remember if it was an article from an old 19th century magazine, a historical tome or an antique postcard. At the time I was hell bent on figuring out where it was located but references to it seemed to be only in the original source. I have the file somewhere, thinking it’s trapped on my desktop computer that’s waiting for repairs.

  • Brian Bixby

    Maybe I’ve mentioned it before, but if not, you should dig up a copy of Frederic J. Wood’s “The Turnpikes of New England” (1919). besides describing many of these old late 18th and 19th century roads, it has what were then contemporary photos taken along the former turnpikes.

    • daseger

      I don’t think you have! I went straight to and now I want to follow every turnpike!

      • Brian Bixby

        Glad I did, then. The 1997 abridgment is about 2/3 the seize of the original.

        One of my neat experiences was following two of the “leftover” segments of the 5th Massachusetts Turnpike, partially abandoned when route 2 was shifted in the early 20th century. On a map, they run west from the intersection of Mt. Elam Road (Fitchburg/Leominster) to just east of the intersection with routes 140/2A. There’s a missing segment, and another that is technically not a public road but was passable.

      • daseger

        Oh I love lost roads! Nothing is more thrilling than being on one.

Leave a Reply