Historic Resources and Cultural Heritage

Cultural and historic resources include many elements: buildings and structures; scenic roads and rural landscapes; important institutions; urban streetscapes; and other character-defining landmarks. Keene’s historic resources and rich cultural heritage support the community’s quality of life and its perception by visitors, those looking to relocate to the community, and those doing business here. Since Keene’s older buildings, structures, bridges, stone walls, rail trails, parks and other cultural resources are located throughout the community, we are able to learn from and build upon the influence of our history in order to ensure a culturally rich quality of life. As the community changes over time and new buildings and structures are constructed, Keene’s historic buildings and traditional architectural identity will become even more vital. It is imperative to the community’s success and quality of life that historic areas are protected and preserved as much as possible, while also adaptively reusing historic resources for modern, sustainable uses.

Recognizing downtown’s importance as the core of the community’s heritage, Keene has made special efforts to preserve what is one of the most intact historic downtowns in the state, region and possibly the country. The Historic District Commission reviews changes to the Downtown Historic District to make sure that any alterations are consistent with the district's character.

In addition to the protection of Keene’s heritage, preservation of historic resources is an integral part of achieving long-term community sustainability. Traditionally, historic buildings have not been viewed as “environmentally sound” structures since older buildings are often assumed to be inefficient. However, restoring and renovating these buildings is more environmentally sound and energy efficient than building new ones, especially after they are retrofitted with energy upgrades. In addition, the dense development pattern indicative of many historic downtowns and neighborhoods promotes walkability and allows residents to be automobile-independent.