A Short Journey Through Lebanon's History

Melissa Robinson image By
Published: May 22, 2023

Nestled in the heart of the Upper Connecticut River Valley, Lebanon is the sole city in Grafton County, New Hampshire, that has a history as impressive as the natural scenery that surrounds it. Established in 1761, Lebanon was named for the cedar trees that once flourished in the area, reminiscent of the biblical cedars of Lebanon. The town’s early settlers were farmers who took advantage of the quality fertile soil and abundant resources of the Mascoma River. The river provided water power for mills and factories. In the 19th century, Lebanon’s industrialization was spurred by the Industrial Revolution, leading to growth in several industries. The arrival of the railroad further enhanced this growth, leading to the expansion of industries and the establishment of many new businesses.


Today, Lebanon has a population of 15,005. It is home to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, one of the biggest and most renowned hospitals in the state. For entertainment, the city’s vibrant historic downtown area boasts a variety of shops, cultural attractions, and restaurants. Lebanon’s history, natural beauty, and culture make it a desirable place to live and visit.

historic lebanon city hall

Let’s see what else there is to know about the rich city of Lebanon, NH!


A Brief Overview of Lebanon, NH History

The area where Lebanon now stands was originally inhabited by the Abenaki Native American tribe. European settlers arrived in the mid-18th century, establishing the town of Lebanon in 1761. But Lebanon’s growth was really spurred by the Industrial Revolution. The Mascoma River, which flows through the city, has made it easy to build and upkeep mills and factories. Industries like textiles, tanneries, and woodworking flourished in the 19th century. Those attracted immigrants and contributed to Lebanon’s economic development. 


The railroad era

rail tracks setting sunThe arrival of the railroad in the mid-19th century had a great impact on Lebanon’s growth. The Boston, Concord, and Montreal Railroad connected Lebanon to larger cities, opening a world of possibilities for trade and transportation. The railroad provided the continuation of the prosperous era, leading to the expansion of the industries and bringing new businesses to the city. 


The impact of Dartmouth

Lebanon is conveniently located near Hanover. This location has proven to be strategically excellent because Hanover happens to be home to Dartmouth College. The presence of the college has had a significant impact on the city’s history and culture. The college’s Medical School and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (a renowned teaching hospital), have also contributed to Lebanon’s growth as a healthcare and research hub. The city is known as a prominent destination for healthcare services in northern New England. Its prestige as this regional center continues to grow to this day.

Lebanon culture

Lebanon, NH has many elements of its culture tied to its rich history. The several museums showcasing its history and heritage offer insight into the city’s early life and the transformations that took place. Lebanon takes pride in celebrating its historical sites, like buildings, landmarks, and districts that showcase architectural styles from different periods. The city organizes historical tours and events, offering a possibility of an immersive educational experience. Constant efforts are made to protect and restore the architecture to maintain the city’s historical character. 


Other entertainment options include the Lebanon Opera House, several cultural festivals throughout the year, and a vibrant visual arts scene. Lebanon’s cultural life thrives through community involvement and engagement. Local organizations hold workshops, classes, and community-driven initiatives encouraging artistic expression and cultural exploration. 

On the whole,

Lebanon is a vibrant place with a very rich history that fuels both a thriving economy and a valuable cultural life. If you’re interested in moving to a place with so much to offer, I am here to help you with information on the local real estate market. I am looking forward to hearing from you!


Other articles from: Melissa Robinson