Dover, New Hampshire
City Hall
City Hall
Official seal of Dover, New Hampshire
The Garrison City
Location within New Hampshire
Location within New Hampshire
Coordinates: 43°11′41″N 70°52′30″W / 43.19472°N 70.87500°W / 43.19472; -70.87500
CountryUnited States
StateNew Hampshire
Incorporated1623 (town)
Incorporated1855 (city)
 • MayorRobert Carrier
 • Deputy MayorDennis Shanahan (ward 5)
 • City Council
  • Linnea Nemeth (at-large)
  • Lindsey Williams (at-large)
  • April Richer (ward 1)
  • Robert Warach (ward 2)
  • Anthony Retrosi (ward 3)
  • Debra Hackett (ward 4)
  • Fergus Cullen (ward 6)
 • City ManagerMichael Joyal
 • Total29.04 sq mi (75.22 km2)
 • Land26.73 sq mi (69.23 km2)
 • Water2.31 sq mi (6.00 km2)  7.97%
50 ft (15 m)
 • Total32,741
 • Density1,224.92/sq mi (472.95/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code603
FIPS code33-18820
GNIS feature ID0866618

Dover is a city in Strafford County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 32,741 at the 2020 census,[2] making it the most populous city in the New Hampshire Seacoast region and the 5th most populous city in New Hampshire.

It is the county seat of Strafford County, and home to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, the Woodman Institute Museum, and the Children's Museum of New Hampshire.


The city is named for Dover, Kent, England. First recorded in its Latinised form of Portus Dubris, the word "Dover" derives from the Brythonic word for "waters" (dwfr in Middle Welsh). The same element is present in the word's French (Douvres) and Modern Welsh (Dofr) forms.



Settlement of Dover in 1623

The first known European to explore the region was Martin Pring from Bristol, England, in 1603.

In 1623, brothers William and Edward Hilton settled at Pomeroy Cove on Dover Point, near the confluence of the Bellamy and Piscataqua rivers. This first settlement makes Dover the oldest permanent settlement in New Hampshire, and seventh in the United States.[3]

The Hiltons were fishmongers sent from London by the Council for New England's Laconia Company to establish a colony and fishery on the Piscataqua. In 1631, however, the colony contained only three houses. William Hilton built a salt works on the property (salt-making was the principal industry in his hometown of Northwich, England). He also served as Deputy to the General Court (the colonial legislature).[4][5][6] The Hiltons' name survives at Hilton Park on Dover Point (originally known as Hilton Point).

The colony's original townships included Durham, Madbury, Newington, Lee, Somersworth and Rollinsford.

In 1633, the plantation was bought by a group of English Puritans who planned to settle in New England, including Viscount Saye and Sele, Baron Brooke and John Pym. They promoted colonization in America, and so that year Hilton's Point received numerous immigrants, many from Bristol. They renamed the settlement Bristol. Atop the nearby hill they built a meetinghouse surrounded by an entrenchment, with a jail nearby.[7]

The town was called Dover in 1637 by the new governor, Reverend George Burdett. It was possibly named after Robert Dover, an English lawyer who resisted Puritanism.[8] With the 1639 arrival of Thomas Larkham, however, it was renamed after Northam in Devon, where he had been preacher. But Lord Saye and Sele's group lost interest in their settlements, both here and at Saybrook, Connecticut, when their plan to establish a hereditary aristocracy in the colonies met disfavor in New England. Consequently, the plantation was sold in 1641 to Massachusetts and again named Dover.

Because it was an early settlement in Abenaki lands, settlers built fortified log houses called garrisons, inspiring Dover's nickname "The Garrison City." The population and business center shifted from Dover Point to Cochecho Falls on the Cochecho River, where its drop of 34 feet (10 m) providing water power for industry (Cochecho means "the rapid foaming water" in the Abenaki language).[9] What is now downtown Dover settlers called Cochecho village.

Cochecho Massacre

Main article: Raid on Dover

On June 28, 1689, Dover suffered a devastating attack by Native Americans. It was revenge for an incident on September 7, 1676, when 400 Native Americans were tricked by Major Richard Waldron into performing a "mock battle" near Cochecho Falls. After discharging their weapons, the Native American warriors were captured. Half were sent to Massachusetts for predations committed during King Philip's War, and seven or eight were hanged, and others were sold into slavery. Local Native Americans deemed innocent were released, but considered the deception a dishonorable breach of hospitality. Thirteen years passed. When colonists thought the episode forgotten, they struck. Fifty-two colonists, a quarter of the population, were either captured or slain.

Incursions against the frontier town would continue for the next half century. During Father Rale's War, in August and September 1723, there were Indian raids on Saco, Maine, and Dover, New Hampshire.[10] The following year Dover was raided again and Elizabeth Hanson wrote her captivity narrative.

Mill era

Cochecho River with repurposed mill buildings, from Henry Law Park

Located at the head of navigation, Cochecho Falls brought the Industrial Revolution to 19th-century Dover in a big way. But cotton textile manufacturing actually began about two miles upstream with the Dover Cotton Factory, which was incorporated in 1812, its mill built in 1815. The business would move to Cochecho Falls when it acquired water privileges occupied since the 17th century by sawmills and gristmills. In 1823 it was renamed the Dover Manufacturing Company, but was not successful. So in 1827 the Cocheco Manufacturing Company was founded (the misspelling a clerical error at incorporation),[11] and the next year, the mill was the site of the first women's strike in the United States. "The Strike of the Mill Girls" took place on December 30, 1828, when about half of the 800 women employed at the mill walked out over lower wages and longer hours that the new owners had implemented.[12] Expansive brick mills were constructed downtown, linked to receive cotton bales and ship finished cloth when the railroad arrived in 1842. Incorporated as a city in 1855, Dover for a time became a leading national producer of textiles, the mill complex dominating the riverfront and employing 2,000 workers.[13]

The mills were purchased in 1909 by the Pacific Mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts, which closed the printery in 1913 but continued spinning and weaving. The printery buildings were demolished in 1913, their site is now Henry Law Park.

In 1922, it was affected by the 1922 New England Textile Strike, shutting down the mills in the city over an attempted wage cut and hours increase.[14][15]

During the Great Depression, however, textile mills no longer dependent on New England water power began moving to southern states in search of cheaper operating conditions, or simply went out of business. Dover's millyard shut in 1937, then was bought at auction in 1941 by the city itself for $54,000. There were no other bids. Now called the Cocheco Falls Millworks, its tenants include technology and government services companies, plus a restaurant, brewery and bar.[16][17]

Textile manufacturing in Dover wasn't limited to cotton. In 1824, Alfred I. Sawyer established the Sawyer Woolen Mills beside the Bellamy River. It would expand to include 15 major buildings over 8.5 acres (3.4 ha), and by 1883 was the largest woolen manufacturer in the state.[11] In 1889 it was acquired by the American Woolen Company, but closed and was sold off in 1955. The buildings have been repurposed into housing.

Modern era

With the closing of the mills, the downtown area of Dover sat vacant and lifeless for a long time. With the turn of the century, the city government began to revitalize the area. The Children's Museum of New Hampshire was brought into a disused mill building with a lease of $1 a year. Henry Law Park, a grassy waterfront stretch of land, was given a brand new playground. Small businesses moved into the mills, such as restaurants, toy stores, real estate offices, and barber shops. Old buildings have been refurbished or outright rebuilt to provide new housing. An $87.5 million high school was built to handle the influx of new residents retreating from the high housing prices in Portsmouth. Recently, a plan to develop the waterfront on the other side of the river from the traditional downtown area was approved for $6 million.[18][19] In early May 2021, waypoint signs were sporadically added to help drivers and walkers navigate Dover with the expansions that are underway.

Antique postcards

Geography and transportation

Downtown Dover

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.0 square miles (75.2 km2), of which 26.7 square miles (69.2 km2) are land and 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2) are water, comprising 7.97% of the city.[20] Dover is drained by the Cochecho and Bellamy rivers, both of which flow into the tidal Piscataqua River,[21] which forms the city's eastern boundary and the New Hampshire–Maine border. Long Hill, elevation greater than 300 feet (91 m) above sea level and located 3 miles (5 km) northwest of the city center, is the highest point in Dover. Garrison Hill, elevation approximately 290 ft (88 m), is a prominent hill rising directly above the center city, with a park and lookout tower on top.

The city is crossed by New Hampshire Routes 4, 9, 16 (the Spaulding Turnpike), 108, and 155, plus U.S. Route 4. It is bordered by the town of Newington to the south (across the inlet to Great Bay), Madbury to the southwest, Barrington and Rochester to the northwest, and Somersworth and Rollinsford to the northeast. South Berwick, Maine, lies to the northeast, across the tidal Salmon Falls River, and Eliot, Maine, is to the east, across the Piscataqua River.

The Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) operates a publicly funded bus network in Dover and surrounding communities in New Hampshire and Maine.[22] C&J Bus Lines is a private intercity bus carrier currently connecting Dover with Boston's South Station and Logan Airport, as well as New York City (via Midtown Manhattan's Port Authority Bus Terminal).[23] Wildcat Transit, operated by the University of New Hampshire, provides bus service to Durham, which is free for students and $1.50 for the public.[24] Amtrak's Downeaster train service stops at the Dover Transportation Center with service to the Portland Transportation Center, Boston's North Station, and intermediate stops.


Historical population
2022 (est.)33,4162.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[25]

As of the 2020 census, there were 32,741 people, 14,431 households, and 7,059 families residing in the city. The city grew by 2,754 residents between 2010 and 2020, the third-largest numeric growth of a town or city in New Hampshire, after Manchester and Nashua. The population density in 2020 was 1,224.88 people per square mile (472.93/km2). There were 15,166 housing units at an average density of 567.38 per square mile (219.07/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 87.2% White, 1.7% African American, 0.20% Native American, 5.1% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.2% some other race, and 4.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.9% of the population.[26]

There were 12,827 households, out of which 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.8% were headed by married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.0% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.6% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27, and the average family size was 2.89.[26]

In the city, the population was spread out, with 20.3% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.7 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.0 males.[26]

For the period 2009–2011, the estimated median annual income for a household in the city was $55,040, and the median income for a family was $69,980. Male full-time workers had a median income of $51,891 versus $36,167 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,590. About 6.8% of families and 8.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.2% of those under age 18 and 5.9% of those age 65 or over.[27]


The Dover School District serves approximately 4,000 pupils, attending Horne Street Elementary School, Garrison Elementary School, Woodman Park Elementary School, Dover Middle School and Dover High School. Dover High's athletic teams are known as "The Green Wave," and the middle school's teams are "The Little Green."

Saint Mary Academy, a Catholic school, has been in downtown Dover since 1912, currently serving about 200 students from pre-kindergarten to 8th grade. Many students at Saint Mary's subsequently attend St. Thomas Aquinas High School, a Catholic high school located on Dover Point.

Portsmouth Christian Academy is located west of the Bellamy River in Dover, serving preschool through 12th grade.[28]

The Cocheco Arts and Technology Academy (CATA) is a public charter high school with about 100 students. It was formerly located in Barrington, New Hampshire.

The Seacoast Charter School is a publicly funded elementary/middle school that integrates the arts into the core curriculum. The school was founded in 2004 in Kingston, New Hampshire, and relocated to Dover in 2015. Enrollment in January 2016 was 215 students in grades K–8.[29]


See also: List of mayors of Dover, New Hampshire

Dover city vote
by party in presidential elections[30]
Year Democratic Republican Third parties
2020 65.19% 12,508 32.99% 6,331 1.80% 346
2016 58.17% 10,118 34.58% 6,015 7.25% 1,262
2012 59.85% 9,724 37.93% 6,162 2.22% 360
2008 63.17% 10,221 35.51% 5,746 1.32% 214
2004 59.39% 9,225 39.95% 6,206 0.66% 103
2000 54.32% 6,812 39.94% 5,008 5.74% 720
1996 56.38% 6,332 33.41% 3,752 10.21% 1,147
1992 45.45% 5,449 35.01% 4,197 19.54% 2,342
1988 46.59% 4,803 51.97% 5,357 1.44% 148
1984 41.32% 3,826 58.29% 5,397 0.39% 36
1980 35.14% 3,344 47.26% 4,497 17.60% 1,675
1976 49.53% 4,386 47.48% 4,204 2.99% 265
1972 42.94% 3,697 56.39% 4,855 0.66% 57
1968 51.12% 4,101 47.08% 3,777 1.81% 145
1964 68.53% 5,629 31.47% 2,585 0.00% 0
1960 52.34% 4,697 47.66% 4,277 0.00% 0

In the New Hampshire Senate, Dover is in the 4th District and is currently represented by Democrat David H. Watters. On the New Hampshire Executive Council, Dover is in District 2 and is currently represented by Democrat Cinde Warmington. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Dover is included in New Hampshire's 1st congressional district and is currently represented by Democrat Chris Pappas.

Dover is a Democratic stronghold in presidential elections. No Republican presidential nominee has carried Dover since George H. W. Bush’s five-point victory in the town over Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Notable people

Main article: List of people from Dover, New Hampshire

In popular culture

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Historical Marker 289

Dover was used as the fictional setting for the Hallmark Channel movie Christmas Incorporated.

Dover was the birthplace of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, created by comic book writers Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird and first published by Mirage Studios—then based in Dover—in 1984.

Historic sites

See also


  1. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  2. ^ "Dover city, Strafford County, New Hampshire: 2020 DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171)". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  3. ^ Stackpole, Everett Schermerhorn (1916). History of New Hampshire. New York: The American Historical Society. ISBN 978-1-115-84294-5.
  4. ^ Palmer, Ansell W., ed. Piscataqua Pioneers: Selected Biographies of Early Settlers in Northern New England, pp. 14, 17, 18, 29, 33, 63, 232–233, Piscataqua Pioneers, Portsmouth, NH, 2000. ISBN 0-9676579-0-3.
  5. ^ Anderson, R. C. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, pp. 951–957, vol. 2, New England Historical and Genealogical Society, Boston, 1995.
  6. ^ Scales, J. History of Dover, New Hampshire, pp. 311–313, facsimile of the 1923 edition, Heritage Books, 1989.
  7. ^ Jeremy Belknap, The History of New Hampshire, 1812
  8. ^ Haddon 2004, pp. 64–65
  9. ^ Dover Public Library, "Is it Spelled Cochecho or Cocheco?" Archived 2015-07-07 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ William Williamson, p. 123.
  11. ^ a b Garland, Caroline Harwood, Old Dover, New Hampshire; Castle Books, Edison, NJ 1987, 2002, p. 383.
  12. ^ "The Strike of the Mill Girls". Dover Public Library. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  13. ^ Hindle, Thom; Dover, Images of America; Arcadia Publishing, Portsmouth, NH 1994, p. 69.
  14. ^ Foner, Philip Sheldon; Foner, Philip Sheldon (January 1, 1991). History of the labor movement in the United States. 9: The T.U.E.L. to the end of the Gompers era / by Philip S. Foner. New York: Intl Publ. pp. 19–31. ISBN 978-0-7178-0674-4.
  15. ^ E. Tilden, Leonard (1923). "New England Textile Strike". Monthly Labor Review. 16 (5): 13–36 – via JSTOR.
  16. ^ "Cocheco Falls Millworks". Cocheco Falls Millworks. Archived from the original on March 30, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  17. ^ Beaudoin, Cathleen. "A Yarn to Follow: The Dover Cotton Factory 1812—1821". Dover Public Library. Archived from the original on February 23, 2003. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  18. ^ "Dover's Economic Explosion". Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  19. ^ "Dover, N.H., reinvents itself into a destination - The Boston Globe". Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  20. ^ "2021 U.S. Gazetteer Files – New Hampshire". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  21. ^ Foster, Debra H.; Batorfalvy, Tatianna N.; Medalie, Laura (1995). Water Use in New Hampshire: An Activities Guide for Teachers. U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Geological Survey.
  22. ^ "Take a closer look at COAST". Retrieved July 6, 2010.
  23. ^ "Dover NH to Logan Airport and New York City will Resume in February of 2024". Retrieved November 20, 2023.
  24. ^ "Wildcat Transit". Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  25. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  26. ^ a b c "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2020 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Dover city, New Hampshire". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  27. ^ "Selected Economic Characteristics: 2009-2011 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates (DP03): Dover city, New Hampshire". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  28. ^ "Portsmouth Christian Academy - In the News". Archived from the original on August 12, 2014. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
  29. ^ "The Seacoast Charter School". Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  30. ^ "Election Results".
  • Haddon, Celia (2004), The First Ever English Olimpick Games, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-86274-2