Chocorua Lake Basin Historic District
On June 9, 2005, the Chocorua Lake Basin Historic District was listed on the Register of National Historic Places, the largest such district in New England. The district covers more than 6,000 acres surrounding Chocorua Lake.
The Chocorua Lake Conservancy funded the research and successful application for the Chocorua Lake Basin Historic District. Jim Bowditch of the CLC spent three years researching over 300 buildings and their associated outbuildings in the district. Elizabeth Hengen, a historic preservation consultant, did the architectural assessments, took photographs, and wrote the application.
The district’s significance derives from a large cluster of late 19th and early 20th century houses built around and near the lake, and the role the area’s landowners have played in the conservation of the lake and viewsheds associated with it and nearby Mount Chocorua. The district is characterized by its integration of natural resources and historical resources.
The Chocorua Lake Basin Historic District contains over 300 buildings constructed between 1874 and 1955. In total, the district has 50 “contributing” houses built before 1955, the majority of which were built before 1924. Seventeen are farmhouses dating from the 1790s to the 1840s; eight of these essentially unaltered, the rest remodeled to varying degrees.
The two dominant visual-elements are Mount Chocorua, a peak of 3475′ lying to the north of the district, and Chocorua Lake in the near geographic center of the district. The entire shoreline is wooded, and all of the houses that enjoy frontage are well screened and usually set far back from the water.
Chocorua Mountain Highway (Route 16), a major transportation route within the state, traverses the district from north to south and runs along Chocorua Lake’s eastern shore. Along much of its length, views open up of the lake and mountain. Prior to 1956, the highway ran closer to the lake shore, where the former roadbed is still visible, even mostly still paved. It passes through The Grove and The Island, a strip of land along the water that affords scenic vistas, and Sand Beach, a beach at the north end.
Once off the highway, the roads within the Chocorua Lake Basin Historic District are rural, unpaved and closely bound by woods. A vast network of carriage roads, footpaths and hiking trails lace the district. Diagonally crossing the northwest comer is an old stage road. Stone walls of varying types are found throughout and include former field walls, broad, tum-of-the-twentieth century summer estate walls, and roadside walls.
Entry drives are frequently marked with granite posts and/or walls. With rare exceptions, driveways are narrow, unpaved, curved, and either edged with field boulders or natural vegetation, or bounded by woods on either side. Many drives extend a quarter-mile and more, and extensive natural vegetation screens the buildings from the road, the lakes and other properties.
For additional information on the Chocorua Lake Basin Historic District, click here.
To support our efforts to preserve the Chocorua Lake Basin and provide public access to visitors to the lake and nearby conservation lands, please click HERE.