Founded in 1746 as a farming town, Hollis still clings to its rural past. Once known for its corn, strawberries, orchards, and dairy and poultry farms, this affluent bedroom community is now home to a number of business executives and their families. Despite the changes, Hollis has managed to hold on to its small-town character.
The center of town is a designated Historic District and includes more than 100 historic homes and buildings. Outside of the town center, sprawling orchards, rolling fields, and stately farms sit alongside large, contemporary homes. More than 2,000 acres of Hollis land remains in active agricultural use today.
Hollis has experienced growing pains in the last few years. The community has fought to maintain its small-town character while bringing in the conveniences of larger towns. Some business expansions and new enterprises have met with opposition, and often a compromise had to be reached to allow the new world to blend with the old.
This town was chartered in 1746 as Hollis. When the original Dunstable Grant of 1673 was divided, the present town was half of West Dunstable. The original spelling was for Thomas Pelham Holles, Duke of New Castle, a patron of Gov. Benning Wentworth, who named the town. It was soon changed to Hollis, for Thomas Hollis, a benefactor of Harvard College. According to historian I. W. Hammond, the change was made because of Holles’ “ignorance and detestable character.”
The present town borders were established in 1786, after a piece of Nashua, known as One-Pine Hill, was annexed, and a strip on the west side of town was given to Brookline.
The town’s Soldier’s Monument honors those men who died in the Revolution, War of 1812 and War of the Rebellion (Civil War). Many Hollis men took part in all three wars, as well as more recent ones. Two Hollis men died at the battle of Bunker Hill, where, contrary to Massachusetts’ claims, most of the American soldiers were from New Hampshire.
Origin: Incorporated in 1746 by Governor Benning Wentworth, the town takes its name from a very old English family. Governor Wentworth’s ancestor, Thomas Wentworth, first Earl of Strafford, was married to Arabella Holles, daughter of John Holles, Earl of Clare. Hollis was first called West Dunstable, or Nittisset, which at one time was part of Groton, Massachusetts, and is now Nashua.
Population, Year of the First Census Taken: 1,441 residents in 1790
Population Trends: Hollis has experienced well above average population growth over each of the last five decades, growing nearly six times larger. Decennial growth rates ranged from a 22 percent increase between 1980-1990 to a 79 percent increase between 1970-1980. Over fifty years, population in Hollis increased by a total of 5,819 residents, going from 1,196 in 1950 to 7,015 residents in 2000. The 2003 Census estimate for Hollis was 7,489 residents, which ranked 40th among New Hampshire’s incorporated cities and towns.
Population Density, 2003: 227.0 persons per square mile of land area. Hollis contains 31.8 square miles of land area and 0.5 square miles of inland water area.