Located in southern New Hampshire at the High Falls of the Souhegan River, Greenville, New Hampshire is a small town with a great community. Formerly a part of neighboring Mason, Greenville was once the location of a profitable mill, and the downtown of Greenville housed the town's concentration of predominantly French-Canadian mill workers. In 1872, Greenville separated from Mason, due to demand for separate social services to support its population.
Still the smallest and newest town in New Hampshire, Greenville boasts a beautiful natural setting and active community members, but its economy isn't so enviable. Greenville is a rural town whose small land area has compressed its population into a very compact space, resulting in some very urban problems in its downtown. It suffers especially from a lack of public space, such as parks, meeting places, etc. Its one truly public space, the second floor meeting room of its town hall, is inaccessible to the public in groups of fifty or more due to its failure to meet current fire and ADA codes. This is a tremendous loss to a town which once used that space to host such events as basketball games, weekly dances, holiday parties, boxing matches, club meetings and musical concerts. Now residents must travel to nearby towns to hold or attend events like these.
Greenville was once a manufacturing center in this area, but when the mills of NH and MA became unprofitable and consequently shut down, Greenville's size became a liability. In a state without income tax, property tax becomes the mainstay of that state's revenues. In a town with meagre acreage and a small population, that tax becomes inordinately high and burdensome.
As cultural and community activities moved out of Greenville, so did businesses. Approximately 86% of employed persons living in Greenville worked out of town, in 2000. Residents of the town over the last ten years offer a tour to the curious, pointing out now-empty buildings where businesses such as the hardware store and the bank used to be. With nothing drawing people into Greenville and punishingly high taxes for residents, businesses can't afford to stay here. With nothing to do here and nowhere to go, local teens spend a great deal of time sitting on sidewalks, waiting to be chased off by the police because of all things, loitering is prohibited.
Neighboring towns tend to regard Greenville as something of a writeoff, but they're wrong. There is a great deal of potential, and an overwhelming degree of generosity, hidden in this tiny town. Nearly everyone you talk to in Greenville wants to help make the town a better place to live, one that offers its residents more opportunities -- and anyone who seeks to actively bring opportunity, or at least something a little different, to town is welcomed with open arms.
This unquenchable spirit of optimism, hope, and the desire for change has led to the formation of two civic groups in the last year. The first, the Greenville Project, was founded in 2002 alongside the Greenville Shakespeare Festival, and was devoted to discovering the cost of bringing the town hall up to fire code and subsequently to raising funds to cover that cost. The job, however, was a little too big for this committed and enthusiastic group -- the entirely wooden room needs to have a sprinkler system installed, a second exit with fire escape added, and some means of handicap access, before it can pass code. The projected expenses quickly spiraled up near the million dollar mark.
Around May of 2002, a couple of newcomers to Greenville became interested in the idea of forming a committee to bring together civic-minded residents to work on Greenville's problems. That group, Greenville PRIDE (Preservation, Revitalization, Integrity, Determination, Enthusiasm ), was a success, and quickly encompassed the Greenville Project. By Fall 2002, PRIDE had taken the ten people involved in the Greenville Project and swelled their ranks to fifty people who gathered at their October brainstorming sessions and formed PRIDE's four subgroups: committees working on Tax Reform, Business Revitalization, Tall Hall Restoration and Beautification.
The people of Greenville are working hard to bring about its cultural, community, and economic revival -- but energy and devotion alone cannot bring tax relief, cannot refurbish the town hall. To find out how you can help bring about Greenville's urban renewal, email Deb Spratt. To help specifically with the restoration / refurbishment of the Town Hall, contact Irene Sherburda.
Accomodations and Directions
See our thorough list of area accomodations.
Greenville is surrounded by several other towns. Here are some sources for local information:
For more information about Greenville, check out the Greenville New Hampshire Visitors Guide.