A Map That Tells A Story

Welcome back to the series, Housing Solutions for Rural New Hampshire. Here you’ll find practical advice for how New Hampshire’s smaller, more rural communities can be part of the solution. In case you missed it, here’s part one of the series.

A couple months ago, I wrote about missing middle housing. In case you missed it, missing middle housing refers to a housing typology that includes duplexes, triplexes, and quads, courtyard apartments, bungalow courts, pocket neighborhoods, and cottage clusters, townhouses, multiplexes, and live/work buildings. The beautiful thing about missing middle housing is that it is designed intentionally to be house-scale multifamily, so missing middle housing blends well with single-family neighborhoods. This month I thought I ought to expand on that topic and provide some real-life examples. 

I’d like to introduce you to Exeter’s Housing Advisory Committee. This group was formed to review housing issues in Exeter and offer recommendations to the Select Board and planning board on various issues regarding housing. Exeter isn’t the only town to have a group like this and your town could have one, too! The mission of this advisory committee is to “identify, analyze, and develop recommendations regarding our current housing availability and our future housing needs to aid in economic development and maintain a viable, developmentally-balanced community.”

Exeter’s Housing Advisory Committee recently wrapped up a project showcasing the town’s diverse and varied housing stock. The project, a story map of multi-family units (in this case, defined as three or more units per structure) in Exeter, tells the story through pictures and mapping of the various “looks” of multi-family housing that already exist in Exeter. In addition to showing viewers a sample of Exeter’s multi-family housing, the story map offers a bit of information about the property, as well as a bit of the history of the site. 

Detailing the various types of multi-family housing highlights the diversity of our housing stock here in Exeter and shows people that denser housing is a viable option for many of our residents. I believe the story board helps advance the point that a diverse housing stock is one of the keys to a resilient community.

Dave Sharples, Exeter Town Planner


I noticed there are many examples of lower-cost housing in town that do not appear to be so at first glance: some of the more notable buildings on Front Street are former single-family residences that have been converted into smaller apartments or condos. They blend seamlessly into the aesthetic fabric of our community. We decided to tell this story with the following interactive map and slide show.

John Mueller, Exeter Housing Advisory Committee Member

Check out the interactive map here. The story map was put together by Robert Pruyne at the Rockingham Planning Commission (RPC). In fact, it was Robert who gave this piece its title, “a map that tells a story”. What story would your town’s housing stock tell?

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