December 16, 2013

Road Signs

This morning New Hampshire Public Radio aired the first in a planned series of reports on historical markers positioned along roadsides throughout the state. Administered by the Division of Historical Resources and the Department of Transportation, the program was started in 1958.

Unveiling the town's first historical marker in 1963.
A few years later, New London created its own roadside marker program in order to highlight people and places of historical interest throughout the town. Its first marker was installed in 1963 near the site of the first town meeting on Knight's Hill, and a new one was added each year until the town's bicentennial in 1979.

In conjunction with a graphic design project by students at Colby-Sawyer College, we revisited those signs recently. The subjects and text on most of our signs have held up well, but in two cases the houses that once sat in close proximity to their descriptive signs have been moved farther away, altering the setting and perhaps giving a false sense of the place. We hope to remedy that problem by offering historical photographs of the buildings accessible via smartphones and other web-enabled devices that can read QR codes.

The NHPR story mentioned that some people are taking the time to visit each of the 236 official roadside markers in New Hampshire. Those marker-baggers will bypass the entire set of bicentennial signs here in New London, installed at town expense, but you can find them in person or online using the Google map embedded below. Clicking on each location displays the corresponding marker text, somewhat edited, and its installation year.