Keene Heritage Commission

“It’s an extraordinary privilege to walk through one’s past in the present.”
Edie Clark, Yankee Magazine


Library Historic Photo
The Keene Public Library, originally the Henry Colony house built in 1869,
given to the City of Keene by Edward C. Thayer in 1898.

Library Present Photo

In 2003, the National Trust for Historic Preservation:  

. . . named Keene to “America’s Dozen Destinations” because of its commitment to historic preservation and attractive architecture.   

. . . called Keene a “Currier and Ives comes to life . . . where pristine local landmarks, Revolutionary War reenactments, and bucolic rolling hills provide a perfect spot for family fun.” 

. . . wrote, “Although its population is small, Keene is a giant when it comes to history" . . . and

. . . "because so many of the town’s earliest structures have remained unchanged for more than two centuries, it’s easy to get lost in time.  Keene represents a truly distinctive slice of America. That makes it an exciting alternative to the homogenization of many other vacation spots.”

In 2005, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a White House initiative, named Keene a Preserve America Community, the first in the state to be so designated.


“We are what we save from the past, and build for the future.”
Philip H. Faulkner, Jr.

St. James Church Historic Photo
St. James Episcopal Church on West Street, Keene, was constructed in 1864

“More and more economic developers and communities are grasping the importance of preserving our cultural and historic places as signposts of our authenticity, rich cultural heritage, and diversity in a world overrun with sameness.”
Peter Riviere, NH Economic Development Professional, NH Preservation Alliance News, Fall 2008


The Keene Heritage Commission is an advisory and review commission of the City of Keene. It is mandated to inventory, promote, protect and preserve all Keene resources which are valued for their historic, cultural, aesthetic, archeological and community significance.

The Heritage Commission:

  • Conducts research, publishes findings and promotes the establishment of historic districts within the City of Keene
  • Assists the Keene Planning Board in the development of sections of the master plan, standards and regulations that address cultural and historic resources
  • Consults and coordinates activities with other boards and commissions as well as local service and nonprofit groups to achieve common preservation goals
  • Publicizes the need for the benefits of protecting and preserving Keene’s cultural and historic resources.

Members of the Commission are appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Keene City Council.


The Heritage Commission works closely with Keene's Historic District Commission by researching historic homes and buildings and by recommending areas for historic preservation.  Once an area receives an official historic district designation, the Historic District Commission works with city officials to develop standards for the compatibility of new construction and renovations to existing buildings and sites within the Historic District.

“It would Be worthwhile if in each town there were a committee appointed to see that the beauty of the town receive no detriment.”
Henry David Thoreau

 Cheshire County Courthouse Historic Photo
Cheshire County Court House, circa 1858

Courthouse Present Photo

Information is available on the Heritage Commission Web Page or by contacting the City Clerk’s office at 3 Washington Street, Keene, NH 03431, Telephone: 603.352.0133.

A map of the Historic District is available at the City's website or by contacting the Keene Planning Department (603.352.5474) or the Keene Code Enforcement Department (603.352.5440).

Historic Downtown Keene