This historical information has been gathered thanks to the stories and photos shared by many current and previous Sunset Lake and Hampstead residents as well as many years of research. If you have any historical information or photos to contribute, please contact us at email@example.com. We appreciate your input!
We are all familiar with the narrow roads and “close quarters” that have come with the development of our neighborhoods around Sunset Lake. It is amazing to think that just over 100 years ago, the lake was completely surrounded by farmland. As can be seen in the image below, at the turn of the 18th century, there were only 9 parcels of land making up the waterfront, each with between 22 and 180 acres.
The names of the owners of these 9 parcels are familiar to us today as many of the roads or other facilities in town are named after these early Hampstead families. Notice the names of the roads at the turn of the 19th century: East Hampstead Road (now Emerson Road), Page Road (now Wash Pond Road), and Peak Road (now Kent Farm Road).
Also shown on the map are the stone walls that were used as property or field boundaries for livestock or crops. The walls were constructed by hand from stones removed from plowed or garden fields. The stones were moved from the fields and placed in piles at the edges of the fields during the warm planting months. Originally, the stone walls were constructed to delineate field or property boundaries during colder months when the owners were not busy farming the land. Later, many more walls were constructed to corral sheep during the sheep craze/boom/fever of 1812-1840s when Merino sheep were first imported to New England and by the 1940s outnumbered people in New Hampshire 2 to 1 with an average of 65 sheep per square mile. 75% of New Hampshire was deforested to support their grazing. Many of these stone walls still exist today and it is fun to visualize how the stone walls in your yard or neighborhood were once part of a much larger network.
Much of the land in New England, including that around Sunset Lake, was deforested not only for farming and livestock grazing, but also so the wood could be used for construction and fuel for heating and cooking. It is amazing to think that as late as the 1950s, there were large fields leading from the main roads down to the waterfront. Lakeview Cemetery on Kent Farm Road, originally named “Eastman Cemetery” and later “The Cemetery on the Farm Road”, was, in fact, renamed for its fine view of Sunset Lake, a view which has not existed for many years due to tree growth. In the 1929 postcard below, you can see that there is a clear view of Lakeview Cemetery, surrounded by its stone walls, from the lake.
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We hope that you enjoy exploring the Sunset Lake history. We will continue to add information as time permits and we discover more history. If you have any historical information or photos to contribute, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate your input!