New Hampshire, known for its picturesque landscapes and rich history, is also home to a variety of abandoned places that pique the interest of urban explorers and history enthusiasts. From old mills that once buzzed with activity to deserted villages and structures that have fallen into disrepair, the abandoned places in New Hampshire offer a window into the state’s past.
These locations, often hidden amongst forests or tucked away in small towns, whisper stories of days gone by and showcase the fascinating interplay between man-made structures and the reclaiming forces of nature.
Note: Many of these locations are in an extremely delicate state. Specifics on locations, such as coordinates or maps, are not given. This is done so purposefully as a barrier to entry to those who may mean harm to these spots. I want to ensure that these abandoned places in New Hampshire are known about, but stay as vandalism and destruction free as possible. Remember: Take only photos, leave only footprints.
Breakdown: The Top 10 and More
If you have a specific location from the list below that you would like to immediately get more information about, click the links in the list to snap straight to that abandoned places in New Hampshire location.
- Madame Sherri’s Castle Ruins (Chesterfield)
- Livermore Village (Livermore)
- The Balsams Resort (Dixville Notch)
- Hill Village (Hill)
- Belknap College Campus (Center Harbor)
- Rockingham Junction Train Depot (Newfields)
- Portsmouth Naval Prison (Kittery, Maine, but part of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard)
- Odiorne Point Batteries (Rye)
- Madame Sherri Forest (Chesterfield)
- Elbow Pond Community (Andover)
Broaden Your Horizons Beyond New Hampshire
Are you interested in venturing outside the state of New Hampshire? Maybe you live close to the state line, or maybe you’re just looking for adventures outside your home state. Whatever the case may be, here are some guides to bordering states that may be helpful in effective urban exploration:
Don’t Forget About Trespassing Laws
It is important when considering abandoned places in New Hampshire to know the basics of New Hampshire trespassing laws. Luckily, we have developed a massive guide to trespassing laws in all 50 states. For laws that specifically relate to New Hampshire, please click here.
Without any further ado, let’s hop into the list of abandoned places!
The Best Abandoned Places in New Hampshire
Madame Sherri’s Castle Ruins (Chesterfield)
Nestled within the thick woods of Chesterfield, New Hampshire, the haunting remains of Madame Sherri’s Castle evoke an air of mystery and intrigue, reminiscent of a bygone era. While the “castle” is actually the remains of a once lavish estate rather than a medieval fortress, its unique history and the dramatic story of its flamboyant owner, Madame Antoinette Sherri, add to its allure.
Madame Sherri, a costume designer from New York, was known for her extravagant lifestyle and eccentric behavior. In the early 1920s, she decided to build a summer home in Chesterfield. The house was designed as a lavish country retreat, complete with ornate architecture and grand spaces. The most striking feature was a grand, Romanesque staircase, leading nowhere, reminiscent of a castle’s grand entrance.
During her time in Chesterfield, Madame Sherri hosted lavish parties, with guests arriving from New York and Boston. However, as her fortunes dwindled, so did the fortunes of her grand home. Madame Sherri eventually moved out, leaving the mansion to be reclaimed by nature.
In 1962, a fire consumed most of the structure, leaving behind only the iconic stone staircase and a few stone columns. These ruins, reminiscent of an ancient castle, are an uncanny sight amid the dense New Hampshire woods. The grand staircase, leading up into open air, gives the site a surreal, almost dreamlike quality.
How Things Look Today
Today, the ruins of Madame Sherri’s Castle are part of the Madame Sherri Forest, a nature preserve managed by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The site attracts hikers, history buffs, and those curious about the eccentric life of Madame Sherri. The walking trails around the ruins provide stunning views of the surrounding forest and are particularly spectacular during the fall when the leaves change color.
The ruins of Madame Sherri’s Castle serve as a dramatic reminder of a glamorous past life, now reclaimed by nature. The grand staircase ascending towards the sky echoes with the echoes of laughter, music, and the rustle of extravagant costumes, a haunting testament to the transience of time and the enduring power of nature.
Livermore Village (Livermore)
Deep in the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest lie the silent remnants of the once-thriving logging community of Livermore Village. Today, a spectral silence pervades the forgotten village, the quiet only occasionally broken by the distant call of a bird or the rustling leaves under a hiker’s foot.
The story of Livermore Village started in the mid-19th century when the ambitious Saunders brothers established the Grafton County Lumber Company. They brought in skilled laborers to extract timber from the surrounding forests, and soon a small but bustling community sprang up. At its zenith, the village boasted nearly 200 inhabitants and included a post office, school, church, company store, and homes for the workers.
The residents lived in close-knit harmony, their lives revolving around the ebb and flow of the logging industry. However, as the 20th century dawned, the village fell on hard times. The readily accessible timber resources dwindled, and logging in the White Mountains became less profitable. By the 1930s, the Grafton County Lumber Company was out of business, and the residents of Livermore Village began to leave, seeking work elsewhere.
How Things Look Today
Today, the once-bustling community has largely returned to nature. Many of the buildings were dismantled or destroyed, and what little remains are barely recognizable through the dense undergrowth. Nature trails cut through the area, winding through the forest where the village once stood. To the discerning eye, subtle traces of human habitation can still be found: crumbling foundations, rusted machinery, and moss-covered debris.
The most striking remnants of Livermore Village’s past are the old railroad grades. These were used to transport the lumber down from the mountains, and the gentle sloping pathways are still visible, cutting through the dense forest growth. These haunting echoes of the past serve as a stark reminder of the once-thriving community that called these woods home.
Livermore Village, once alive with the hum of industry and the hustle and bustle of a working community, is now an eerily quiet testament to the enduring power of nature to reclaim what was once its own.
Visitors can take a journey back in time, walking the paths where loggers once hauled their valuable timber and children played in the shadow of the majestic White Mountains. Livermore Village stands as a poignant symbol of the transient nature of human endeavors against the timeless backdrop of nature.
The Balsams Resort (Dixville Notch)
Nestled amidst the breathtaking natural splendor of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the grand and stately Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch stands as a poignant echo of a bygone era. Once a vibrant and luxurious destination for the wealthy and well-connected, the resort is now a hauntingly beautiful testament to the passage of time.
The Balsams was first opened in 1866, and over the years it grew and expanded to become one of New Hampshire’s most prestigious resorts. It boasted over 200 rooms, a grand dining room, a golf course, and even its own post office.
The Balsams was famed for its grandeur and elegance, with richly furnished rooms, exquisite cuisine, and a variety of recreational activities for guests, ranging from hiking and skiing to horseback riding and fishing.
Guests flocked to the Balsams to enjoy its scenic beauty and luxurious amenities. The resort played a significant role in the local economy and was a source of employment for many in the region. It was also famous for being the site of the “first in the nation” primary vote, a tradition upheld since 1960, where the residents of Dixville Notch would cast their votes at midnight.
However, despite its storied history and illustrious reputation, the Balsams fell on hard times in the 21st century. As the economy struggled, fewer people had the resources for luxury vacations, and the grand old hotel found it increasingly difficult to compete with newer, more modern resorts. The Balsams Resort closed its doors in 2011, and despite several plans for its revival, it remains abandoned as of 2023.
How Things Look Today
Today, the once bustling resort stands silent and deserted. The ornate architecture and once luxurious interiors are showing signs of decay, with peeling paint, crumbling plaster, and encroaching vegetation. Yet, there’s an eerie beauty to the decaying grandeur of the Balsams. The once manicured lawns and golf courses have been reclaimed by nature, adding a sense of wild beauty to the scene.
Visiting the Balsams today is a poignant experience. The silent hallways and vacant rooms echo with the faded laughter and chatter of guests from a bygone era. The grandeur of the past is still palpable, despite the encroaching decay. The Balsams Resort remains a powerful symbol of a past era, standing sentinel over the changing fortunes of time and history.
Hill Village (Hill)
In the heart of New Hampshire lies an unusual historical oddity: the remnants of the old Hill Village, a ghost town with a unique story.
Unlike most abandoned settlements, Hill Village didn’t fade away due to economic hardship or natural disasters; instead, it was deliberately relocated in the mid-20th century due to the construction of a reservoir.
Hill Village was originally founded in the 18th century, and for many years, it thrived as a small farming community. Homes, a school, a church, and various businesses lined the quiet streets, creating a close-knit, rural community that embodied the idyllic simplicity of New England living. The village served as a central hub for the surrounding farming community and over time, developed a rich tapestry of local history and traditions.
However, in the 1930s, the New England Power Association made plans to construct the Franklin Falls Reservoir as part of a hydroelectric project. The location of the old Hill Village was deemed the ideal site for the reservoir. Faced with the reality of their homes being submerged underwater, the residents of Hill were forced to make a monumental decision: to move their entire town to higher ground.
The process took several years and was a massive logistical endeavor. Buildings were either demolished or physically relocated to the newly established site, which is known as New Hill Village. By the early 1940s, the move was complete, and the old Hill Village was slowly submerged under the rising waters of the reservoir.
How Things Look Today
Today, little remains of the old Hill Village. During periods of drought, when the water levels of the reservoir are low, remnants of the old town foundations, cellars, and stone walls emerge from the depths, providing a somber reminder of the town that once was. The area is now a popular site for local archaeologists and historians, who continue to discover artifacts and relics from the past.
The story of Hill Village is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices sometimes made in the name of progress. It’s a testament to the resilience of its former residents and their determination to preserve their community in the face of overwhelming odds.
The old Hill Village may be submerged and largely forgotten, but its spirit lives on in the relocated town and its enduring history.
Belknap College Campus (Center Harbor)
Tucked away in the picturesque Lakes Region of New Hampshire, the abandoned Belknap College Campus in Center Harbor stands as a time-weathered testament to the ambitions and short-lived success of a small private college.
Belknap College was founded in 1963 by Dr. Royal M. Frye and Robert A. Bicknell. It started modestly, offering only Associate Degrees, but soon expanded to offer Bachelor’s Degrees in liberal arts and sciences.
Over the years, the campus grew, occupying a number of grand old buildings around the town, including the grandiose Victorian-style Main Building, a historic edifice that served as the college’s administrative headquarters.
In its heyday, the college boasted a lively and vibrant campus. The classrooms and lecture halls buzzed with academic discourse, the dormitories bustled with students, and the scenic grounds offered an idyllic environment for study and recreation. It attracted students from across the country and around the world, bringing a burst of youthful energy and intellectual curiosity to the small lakeside community.
However, despite its early success, Belknap College faced mounting financial struggles in the 1970s. It relied heavily on tuition fees for revenue, and when enrollment numbers started to dwindle, the college found it increasingly difficult to stay afloat.
The administration tried to steer the institution through these turbulent times, but the economic difficulties were too overwhelming. In 1974, just over a decade after it opened, Belknap College closed its doors for good.
How Things Look Today
Today, the former Belknap College Campus remains a notable feature in Center Harbor, though its buildings stand silent and abandoned. The grand Main Building, once a symbol of the college’s lofty ambitions, is now a shadow of its former self, its imposing structure slowly succumbing to the ravages of time. However, it still holds a strong presence, offering poignant reminders of a vibrant campus life that once was.
Now a site of curiosity for urban explorers and history enthusiasts, the deserted campus has a bittersweet beauty. The classrooms may be silent, but the stories of those who passed through its halls live on, echoing through the deserted corridors and overgrown courtyards of the once-thriving institution.
The tale of Belknap College serves as a reminder of the fragile balance between ambition and reality, of dreams built and lost within the blink of an eye.
Rockingham Junction Train Depot (Newfields)
Nestled within the heart of the small town of Newfields, New Hampshire, the Rockingham Junction Train Depot stands as a poignant relic of an era when rail was king. The echoing whistle of trains may have long since faded into history, but the atmosphere of the bygone age remains tangibly present in the weathered wood and brickwork of this silent sentinel of time.
The Rockingham Junction Train Depot was established in the mid-19th century, during the golden age of rail. The station was a crucial intersection point between the Boston and Maine Railroad and the Portsmouth Branch railroad line, making it a hive of activity and an essential part of New England’s thriving rail network.
Passengers and freight alike flowed through the junction, the train schedules dictating the rhythm of daily life for the people of Newfields and the surrounding communities.
The depot itself was an impressive architectural specimen. Featuring elements of the Queen Anne style that was popular during the time, the red brick station building was crowned by a distinctive turret and featured a spacious waiting room, ticket offices, and even a telegraph office. An adjoining wooden freight house catered to the various goods being transported through the junction.
However, as the 20th century progressed, the depot saw a decline in use. The advent of automobiles and the construction of interstate highways gradually eroded the dominance of rail travel.
By the latter part of the century, passenger services at the depot ceased altogether. Freight traffic continued for a while longer but eventually, that too came to an end.
How Things Look Today
Today, the Rockingham Junction Train Depot stands largely abandoned, its former grandeur slowly fading under the weight of time and neglect. The brickwork of the main station is weathered but still intact, its red hue standing out against the backdrop of the New Hampshire landscape. The wooden freight house, despite bearing the marks of the passing years, continues to stand, a testament to the craftsmanship of a bygone era.
Now a site for urban exploration and local history, the depot provides a tangible connection to New Hampshire’s past. The ghostly quiet that now hangs over the area is occasionally broken by the distant sound of a passing freight train, a haunting reminder of the depot’s bustling past.
Whether or not the Rockingham Junction Train Depot will be restored or left to the elements remains uncertain, but for now, it continues to be a fascinating symbol of New Hampshire’s railway history.
Portsmouth Naval Prison (Kittery, Maine, but part of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard)
Standing like a granite sentinel on the island of Seavey’s in Kittery, Maine, the Portsmouth Naval Prison, although technically part of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, is a remarkable feature of New Hampshire’s historic landscape.
A mammoth embodiment of architectural grandeur, this imposing structure is a relic of bygone days, its imposing facade a silent testament to its long, complex history.
Established in 1908, the Portsmouth Naval Prison, also known as the “Castle,” served as a disciplinary barracks for the U.S. Navy. The original structure was designed by prominent architect Charles Bulfinch, and over the decades, expansions and modifications resulted in an eclectic mix of styles, from Victorian Gothic to castellated Gothic Revival architecture.
The prison’s impressive, fortress-like structure, with its tall, angular towers and grim granite walls, have made it an iconic, albeit somewhat eerie, part of the local landscape.
The prison had the capacity to house up to 3,000 inmates, which included deserters, insubordinates, and other military offenders. The institution was known for its progressive approaches to prisoner reform. It introduced vocational training, where inmates could learn a variety of trades, and a system of rewards for good behavior.
However, despite these attempts at reform, the prison was often at the center of controversy and faced frequent criticism for its harsh conditions.
In its heyday, the prison was a bustling, active place. However, as time passed, changes in military correctional policies led to a decrease in the inmate population. By the 1970s, the prison was largely underutilized. It was officially decommissioned in 1974, and since then, it has been left abandoned.
How Things Look Today
Today, the Portsmouth Naval Prison stands as a deserted monument to its past. It is stark, imposing, and enigmatic, its tall towers casting long shadows over the naval yard. Its empty halls and corridors echo with the silence of the decades, and the granite walls bear the marks of time and weather.
Despite its state of disuse, the prison’s architectural grandeur remains undiminished. Urban explorers and history buffs are often drawn to the site, captivated by its aura of forgotten history and its unique, castle-like architecture. The building, though not open to the public, can be viewed from the exterior, and its foreboding silhouette continues to inspire and intrigue.
The future of the Portsmouth Naval Prison remains uncertain. There have been several proposals for redevelopment over the years, but none have come to fruition. For now, the “Castle” remains, standing as a dramatic, ghostly reminder of New Hampshire’s naval history.
Odiorne Point Batteries (Rye)
Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, New Hampshire, is widely known for its beautiful landscapes, abundant wildlife, and family-friendly amenities, but what many don’t realize is that it also holds a piece of World War II history. Nestled within the park are the remnants of the Odiorne Point Batteries, also known as Fort Dearborn during the war years.
The military history of Odiorne Point starts in the early 1940s when the US government bought the land from private owners in response to World War II. The 265-acre property was strategically situated, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, making it an ideal site for a defensive position.
Fort Dearborn was built in 1942 as part of the Harbor Defenses of Portsmouth and was one of six fortifications built to protect the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in nearby Kittery, Maine.
The fort was home to six large gun batteries, each meant to defend against potential enemy naval attacks. These batteries were deeply embedded in concrete structures and partially buried under a thick layer of soil for camouflage and protection against aerial attacks.
In addition to the gun batteries, the site also included barracks, administration buildings, a power station, and plotting rooms where target data was calculated.
Fort Dearborn was decommissioned shortly after World War II ended. The guns were removed and the buildings abandoned. Nature began to reclaim the area, with vegetation overgrowing the once-bustling military complex. The State of New Hampshire purchased the site in 1961, converting it into Odiorne Point State Park.
How Things Look Today
Today, the abandoned structures of the Odiorne Point Batteries are both haunting and fascinating. Several of the old concrete gun emplacements remain, some partially hidden by vegetation, others more openly visible. These silent, concrete sentinels offer a tangible link to the past, a poignant reminder of the region’s military history.
In contrast to the quiet stillness of the batteries, the park is buzzing with activity. It’s home to the Seacoast Science Center, a marine and environmental education organization. Walking trails crisscross the park, providing opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, and bird watching.
Even as nature and time continue to soften the edges of the old structures, the abandoned Odiorne Point Batteries continue to serve as a solemn memorial to a critical time in history.
Their presence stands as a testament to a time of global turmoil and as a reminder of New Hampshire’s contribution to national defense. For the visitors willing to venture off the beaten path, these relics of the past offer a fascinating exploration of history, tucked away within a beautiful coastal landscape.
Madame Sherri Forest (Chesterfield)
The Madame Sherri Forest in Chesterfield, New Hampshire, offers more than just trails for hiking and picturesque views. This 488-acre forest is also home to the intriguing ruins of a once grand estate, colloquially known as Madame Sherri’s Castle, a testament to a life of flamboyance and a touch of mystery that has intrigued visitors and locals for decades.
The “castle” was actually the country home of Madame Antoinette Sherri, a costume designer from France who worked in New York City during the roaring twenties. Madame Sherri was known for her extravagant lifestyle and flamboyant personality, and she brought that energy to her summer residence in Chesterfield, where she entertained guests from New York in lavish parties.
The castle was constructed in the 1930s, designed in a Romanesque style with an exotic flare. Built on a hillside, the three-story house featured a grand staircase, spacious rooms, balconies, and large archways. The grounds also included a man-made pond, gardens, and walking paths.
Unfortunately, Madame Sherri’s fortune did not last. By the late 1940s, she had fallen into financial hardship and could no longer maintain her extravagant lifestyle. The property was abandoned and fell into disrepair. In 1962, a fire destroyed the house, leaving only the stone foundation, chimneys, and the iconic grand staircase that seems to lead to nowhere.
How Things Look Today
Since then, the ruins have been reclaimed by nature. The staircase, once used by elegantly dressed partygoers, now leads up into the open sky, providing a stark contrast to the surrounding wilderness. The remaining stone walls and archways are covered in moss and vines, adding to the eerie beauty of the site.
The forest surrounding the ruins is managed by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and has been since 1969. It’s crisscrossed with hiking trails, including a portion of the Ann Stokes Loop, a trail named in honor of the woman who purchased the land after Sherri’s death to ensure its preservation.
Madame Sherri Forest and the castle ruins attract hikers, nature lovers, history buffs, and those intrigued by the mysterious and the forgotten. The site holds a fascinating blend of natural beauty and man-made history, and the remnants of the castle stand as an enduring legacy to Madame Sherri’s flamboyant life and her unique mark on this corner of New Hampshire.
Elbow Pond Community (Andover)
Elbow Pond Community, situated in the rural town of Andover in New Hampshire, is an intriguing collection of abandoned structures that carry whispers from the past. The Elbow Pond area was once home to a small community that has long since faded away, leaving behind fragments of history and a touch of mystery.
The Elbow Pond Community was established in the 19th century, and it thrived for a while due to its proximity to the old Coach Road (now known as the Elbow Pond Road). The community was never large, and details about its residents and their way of life are somewhat elusive, which adds to the intrigue of this place.
At the height of its existence, the community was home to a small number of families. Some remnants of the former settlement still remain, including foundations, old roads, and stone walls, which mark the boundaries of the former properties.
The most notable relic is the small Elbow Pond Cemetery, located off of the main trail. It is here where one can find the headstones of those who once lived in the area, offering a poignant reminder of the community that once thrived here.
How Things Look Today
Nature has gradually reclaimed much of the former settlement, as it’s now part of the surrounding forest. However, the remaining structures offer a fascinating glimpse into the past and are a testament to the region’s history. The area is crisscrossed by hiking and biking trails, and many visitors enjoy exploring the site for its natural beauty and historical significance.
The Elbow Pond Community is a hidden gem for those interested in history, archaeology, and nature. As you walk through the area, it’s hard not to imagine the lives of the people who once called this place home, the sound of children playing, the smell of wood smoke, and the community’s daily rhythm of life.
Today, the Elbow Pond Community is not just an abandoned place; it’s a historical canvas that allows visitors to reflect on the passage of time, the power of nature, and the resilience of communities, even long after they have disappeared. It stands as a silent testament to a bygone era and a significant part of New Hampshire’s rural heritage.
Our Final Thoughts on Abandoned Places in New Hampshire
Those who are into urban exploration in the New Hampshire area should get comfortable with New Hampshire trespassing laws. Luckily, we have developed a massive guide to trespassing laws in all 50 states. For laws that specifically relate to New Hampshire, please click here.
For more about obtaining permission to explore abandoned places, check out our guide Explore Abandoned Buildings: How To Get Permission. Finally, if you are wanting to find more abandoned places in New Hampshire, check out my resource How To Find Abandoned Places With Google Maps.
- John Bourscheid, Killer Urbex