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Wakefield's Heritage Commission celebrates 25 years with water tower dedication

Commission Chair Pam Wiggin honored for her 25 years of service

Heritage Commission Chair Pam Wiggin (right) unveiled a plaque honoring the Lake Shore Park Association for its gift of the last Boston & Maine wooden water tower to Heritage Park. The plaque reads "B&M WATER TOWER, circa 1888, given by Lake Shore Park Assn." Admiring the plaque are (l-r): Dave Morris, Chairman of Lake Shore Park Association, railroad historian Frank Judge and Association member Dennis Heffernan. (Photo by Thomas Beeler) (click for larger version)
June 27, 2018
WAKEFIELD — Last Saturday, June 23, the Wakefield Heritage Commission celebrated 25 years of preserving the town's heritage sites by dedicating a recently-erected Boston & Maine water tower at Heritage Park in Union.

Commission members also surprised Chair Pam Wiggin with a selectmen's proclamation honoring her 25 years of service and leadership and a bouquet of 25 roses, each rose representing a year she has served on the commission.

The program began with an invocation by the Rev. Dr, David Maleham, pastor of Union Congregational Church, followed by a welcome by Chairman Wiggin.

Wiggin was followed by Executive Councilor Joseph Kenney, a former Wakefield selectman who lives in Union across the street from Heritage Park. Kenney provided a history of how the railroad came to Union in the 19th century and how it served the town in the 20th.

Wiggin led the audience in singing "Hymn to Wakefield," written by Theodora Templeton and set to the melody of Battle Hymn of the Republic. She then reviewed the history of the commission.

In 1992, the New Hampshire legislature defined heritage commission and added it the authorized land use boards. Wakefield was one of the first towns to vote to establish a heritage commission in 1993. The first commission had five members and was chaired by Wakefield historian Elizabeth MacRury, who served on the commission for 14 years. The commission began documenting historic sites in town. It's first major project was the acquisition and restoration of the foreclosed Garvin Building. The building housed a restaurant (now Lino's) as well as the post office, town clerk and the original offices of the Carroll County Pioneer (now the Carroll County Independent). The building was restored and then sold in 2004 to a private buyer with covenants to preserve the building.

Since the Garvin purchase the commission restored the hay scales in the Historic District, purchased the Spinney Meeting House, Grange Building and Union Station and Freight House, created Heritage Park in Union and secured four preservation grants that funded the Union purchases and surveys of town mill sites, historic houses and the Newichawannock Canal. Recently the commission helped save the Sanborn House from demolition and accepted the former East Wakefield School for renovation. The school is scheduled to reopen on Aug. 1.

Heritage Park and the Water Tower

Commission member Phil Twombley gave a history of Heritage Park beginning with the acquisition of Union Station in 2006 and the Freight House in 2007, when Heritage Park was created and dedicated to Elizabeth MacRury. When the station was restored the most challenging part was the ticket office, a problem solved based on a 1914 inventory of the station.

In 2009, the 1903 Russell snow plow was lent to the commission, requiring the building of 100 feet of track. The plow acquisition was followed in 2016 with the acquisition of a Boston & Maine caboose found in Northfield and the last remaining B & M wooden water tower.

Rick Poore gave the history of the water tower, which was required by steam locomotive. The tower now in Union was first erected in Alton Bay in 1888 and moved to Lake Side Park in Gilford in 1936. The tower was donated to Wakefield by the Lake Shore Park Association, disassembled and moved to Union, where it was reassembled over the past year.

The Heritage Commission created a plaque recognizing the association's gift. Wiggin unveiled it with Association President Dave Morris, member Dennis Heffernan and railroad historian Frank Judge in attendance.

The program concluded with an appreciation of the work of the commission by Peter Michaud of the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, who praised the commission for its achievements over 25 years, all "done to a high caliber" by "an incredible group of people."

Not on the program was the surprise recognition of Pam Wiggin for her 25 years of dedicated service to the Wakefield Heritage Commission. Selectman Connie Twombley read a special proclamation by the Board of Selectmen and commission member Tracey Kolb presented Wiggin with a bouquet of 25 long-stemmed roses – one rose for each year she has served. For once Wiggin was momentarily speechless and very touched. It was a fitting end to a landmark celebration.

Martin Lord Osman
Tiffany Eddy
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