The Hew Hampshire State House in Concord, New Hampshire

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The New Hampshire State House, located in the capital city of Concord, is the home base of New Hampshire’s 24 State Senators, each Senator representing 55,000 residents, and 400 House Representatives, one for every 3,500 residents. State House members have other full time jobs and several college student members are current House members (the minimum age to be a House Representative is 18 years old). The House Chamber, 204 years old (in 2023) is the oldest, continuously used House Chamber in the United States- the only additions over the years have been carpet, electricity, and female representatives.   The original State House was built between 1816-1819, with additions in the 1860s and the addition of elevators and restrooms in 1910.

Today, visitors may tour the State House on their own or with a guide. Truly the “People’s House”, we were greeted by many House Representatives and State Senators who stopped to chat and share their pride for their home state. 

Travel Tips:

  • Self guided tours are offered throughout the week by visiting the Visitor Center inside the first floor of the State House. When available, docents offer guided tours from 8:30-3pm. Check here for up to date information.
  • There is plenty of metered street parking around the State House ($1/hour with three hour max). The School Street Parking Garage is located to the left of the State House.
  • The State House is handicap accessible with an elevator and the tour does cover the first and second floors.
  • Restrooms are located on every floor; a cafeteria is located on the lower level and open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Check here and here for good indexes of local restaurants. We had lunch at the Barley House directly across from the State House and enjoyed our meal. 
  • There is a small gift shop inside the Visitor Center, which also has dioramas showcasing early NH history. 
  • Check in at the Visitor Center on the first floor to the right of the security desk. Plan on 60-80 minutes for a guided tour.

Playing “I Spy” at the New Hampshire State House:

  1. Find the bumper sticker and campaign pin for dozens of national and local politicians who have come to New Hampshire to campaign in the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center also has several dioramas depicting early NH history. 
  2. See which number is missing from the numbered House Chamber seats (Hint: it’s a commonly superstitious number that people avoid). There are 400 House members and they have assigned seating (designated by the Speaker) in the stadium seating House Chamber. Their electronic voting buttons are located on their seats.
  3. The five portraits of John Hale, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin Pierce, and Daniel Webster that hang in the House Chamber. Each one holds special ties to the state of New Hampshire and one of the portraits was purchased with a penny drive by school children in the 1800s (they raised over $2,000!) There is a large viewing gallery for guests on the third floor. 
  4. The peek-a-boo porthole in the door behind the Speaker’s desk in the House Chambers.  It is used for a Representative who is running late or leaves and wishes to return- if they peek through and see a vote in progress, they know not to enter!
  5. The four panels (painted on linen by Barry Faulkner and then glued to the walls) of the Senate Chamber depicting the first graduation of Dartmouth College, a young Daniel Webster memorizing the Constitution, a crew of artists discussing the art of nature and science, and John Stark going to battle at Bennnigton and Bunker Hill.
  6. The pigeon shields on the windows of the Senate Chamber.  Since the Senate Chamber (and most of the Senate House) does not have air conditioning, pigeons would often fly into the wide, open windows of the Senate Chamber. The room was built in 1819 and still has the same furniture from the 1942 upgrade. There is a smaller gallery for the public on the third level.
  1. The 80+ portraits of the former governors of New Hampshire that line the second floor hallway. There are more than 200 paintings throughout the State House. 
  2. The state mottoLive Free or Die”  proudly displayed in the Governor’s Chamber and Reception Room, which is used for public meetings.
  3. The collages of photos of presidential candidates coming to Concord to register for the National Presidential Primary in the Secretary of State’s Room
  4. The massive mural on the first floor that depicts Pickett’s Charge in the Battle of Gettysburg. It was found rolled up in the barn of an Executive Councilor and donated to the State House for display.    
  5. The 88 Civil War flags, as well as dozens of World War I flags, on display in the first floor Memorial Hall of Flags. The Civil War flags were encased in 1899 and have never been opened since then!
  6. The Roll of Honor in the first floor lobby lists the names of the 697 New Hampshire men and women who died in World War I. 
  7. The “fake” columns in the first floor lobby. There are 8 original wooden columns (that literally hold up the second floor Senate Chamber) but 4 additional columns were added in 1969 for aesthetic purposes and are hollow plastic. 

Bonus: Leave time to walk the grounds of the State House and see the six statues honoring Daniel Webster, General John Stark, John Parker Hale, Commodore George Hamilton Perkins, Franklin Pierce, and Governor John Winant. There is also a granite monument honoring 76 Concord citizens who died in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War; a replica of the Liberty Bell; a Civil War Memorial; and various markers. 

Looking for other adventures in Concord? Check out our posts featuring the Canterbury Shaker VillageMcAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center, New Hampshire Historical Society, and Pierce Manse.

One of our favorite activities in any state capital city is to tour the State House to learn about the history of the state and its unique features. You can read about our tours in Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Colorado, and Wyoming.  And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.  

Disclosure: Our family was given a private tour of the State House; all opinions expressed are my own. 

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7 Comments

  1. They were so many interesting facts in this blog and including some unusual artistic information. Love the pigeon shields!!. The number of house representatives seems excessive for the population but glad they are friendly. I’d really like to visit this Capital!

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