Since the coming of the Interstate in 1967, the remnants of Lewiston seems to have gone into hibernation. By the late 1980s the old center essentially consisted of six buildings between the tracks and the River Road: a metal-sided warehouse, the station (used as a private club) and freight depot, a brick house (used as Dartmouth's pottery studio by the mid-1980s) and two houses north of it. The town's coal trestle also remained, thoroughly overgrown. Much of the town had come into the possession of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and when Dartmouth College arranged to buy the old hospital in Hanover in 1989, the Lewiston properties came to the College as part of the deal.
What does the future hold for Lewiston? At the start of the 21st century, Lewiston must be in the lowest nadir of its existence, if it can be said to exist at all. But the village's future bears promise. The factors that recommended Lewiston as the site for Dartmouth's pottery studio also point to its promise for other purposes. Lewiston is far enough away to preclude academic uses, and being across the River creates a special distinction: even though the village is not much farther from the Inn than Dick's House is, crossing Ledyard Bridge makes Lewiston seem a world apart from the campus. Faculty housing is one possible future use, since the village is much closer than the College's current faculty housing development at Grasse Road east of Hanover. Hanover and Dartmouth would benefit if new buildings and functions revitalized Lewiston, and people who lived there would be able to commute without cars.
The College also may take inspiration from Lewiston's history and setting to use the place for something nobler than a commuter parking lot. Enough of the old Lewiston remains to require that new development reconstitute the place as a genuine urban entity again. By following historic street patterns, the village's new organization will encourage interactions within its borders: Perhaps a store can serve as a community center. Students visited the village relatively often in its heyday, and a restaurant that was popular with student road-trippers on tight schedules could also serve the village. A desire for vitality in a new Lewiston is not nostalgia but a recognition of what the village and the people who will live in it deserve. Clearly Lewiston cannot be thought of as merely a fringe of Hanover, but demands to be seen as a place unto itself.
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©2000 Scott Meacham