Visitors to the Monadnock region have commented that each small town is unique. Each town has its own flavor, so it's not any great leap to say that Keene is different from Peterborough. While both towns are in southwestern New Hampshire and only about eighteen miles apart, each has a distinct character. It is the result of the people who live there and the culture they have created over the years.
Large and long-lasting institutions also tend to influence local character. In Keene, for instance, the local college, Keene State, contributes greatly to the arts and culture. In Peterborough, however, the influence is a little more subtle. Visitors will immediately notice that the small town has a rich culture of arts, such as the Peterborough Players professional theater.
Harder to see is the MacDowell Colony (shown below) which is only open to the public one day out of the year. Sunday August 11th was that day this year, in 2013. The Colony opened its doors to let the public visit the grounds, meet the artists, and experience their work. There are several small cabins in the woods that are made available to qualifying artists for short periods of time. With their needs taken care of, in a forest setting, the artists can then focus on their work. The winner of this year's Edward MacDowell Medal was composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.
The Colony is out in the woods, not too far from the center of town, but you'd never know it's there. You would, nonetheless, be aware of its influence.
Peterborough has some great places for the arts. Check out the Sharon Arts Center that supports and serves artists and craftspeople, and to engage the community in the artistic process. There is also the Mariposa Museum of folk art and native culture that will delight people of all ages. The Monadnock Center for History and Culture at the Peterborough Historical Society will give you a glimpse of the history and culture of this region. Monadnock Music offers a variety of musical performances such as chamber music, opera, and vocal and piano soloists at a number of venues in Peterborough and other nearby communities. Shown below is Gil Rose conducting Monadnock Sinfonietta.
While visiting Peterborough, you'll find eateries, restaurants, bookstores, gift shops, outdoor activities, and much more to make your experience more complete and memorable. However, because the focus of this blog is on the arts, we are not attempting to cover everything that's great about Peterborough.
We would encourage guests of the Bridges Inn to plan a day to explore this great small town, along with some of the others in the vicinity. Experience for yourself the nuances in local character and culture, and see if you think these two neighboring towns in southwestern New Hampshire have their own personality.