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Belmont's 'special places' inked to support preservation projects

Christine Fogg touches up one of her pen and ink drawings at her home art studio in Belmont. Meghan Siegler. (click for larger version)
August 19, 2009
BELMONT — As a new member of the Belmont Historical Society, Christine Fogg decided to put her artistic skills to use by creating four pen-and-ink drawings of historic Belmont landmarks, which are now being sold as note cards, recipe cards and framed pictures to enhance the society's fundraising efforts.

Though she's taken classes in pen and ink and pen and water, Fogg said that art is a hobby for her, not a career, and she's never sold anything before.

"I'm strictly amateur," Fogg said. "I have been doing artwork off and on as a hobby since my 30s."

Despite her modesty, however, Fogg couldn't pass up a chance to help the Historical Society raise money for its ongoing preservation and restoration projects, like the current one at the Province Road Meeting House. A study, paid for by a grant, was completed recently that identified what needs to be done to preserve that building. Now the society has applied for funding and will phase in restoration activities as funding becomes available, either through grants or fundraising.

Fogg chose the four sites featured in her artwork based on input from the society and deciding which landmarks people would be most familiar with. The four sites are the 1792 Province Road Meeting House, which is listed in the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places; the bell tower of the village's 1833 Belmont Mill; the town bandstand, which will celebrate its centennial year in October; and the 1894 Gale School.

"The Gale School has long been one that people have been interested in," Fogg said, referring in part to the somewhat recent "Save the Gale School" efforts that have so far kept the Shaker Regional School District from touching the building.

Fogg herself is a relative newcomer to Belmont, having lived in town for a handful of years after marrying Woody Fogg. At Belmont's 2008 Old Home Day, the couple was approached and asked to consider joining the Historical Society.

"My husband has lived here since the 70s and was very familiar with the people in the Belmont Historical Society," Fogg said.

The two joined together, and since then Fogg said she feels more connected to the town. Preparing for and working through the artistic process has only reinforced that connection.

Before she sat down at her drawing desk, Fogg went to each site and photographed the buildings at various angles. After choosing her favorite angle, Fogg used a grid on the picture and paper to get the right dimensions. Once the basic building outlines were done, she penciled in the details freehand.

"Obviously I must like the details," Fogg said of her intricate penwork. "That probably comes from the fact that I have a math degree."

Dubbed "special places" products, Fogg's artwork first went on sale at Belmont's Old Home Day two weeks ago.

"We were pleased (with sales)," Fogg said. "(Customers) liked how they were done and the style. They recognized the places."

Even if lookers didn't buy, the society was happy to have people stop by and chat.

"While the intent is to raise funding, we also hope to raise awareness (of what the society does)," Fogg said.

Helping with the project was Town Historian and founding member of the Historical Society Wallace Rhodes, who verified the historical facts printed on the artwork. On the back of the Province Road Meeting House note card, for example, it says that the building was constructed in 1792 "to serve the growing but scattered population in the northern and western part of the old town of Gilmanton."

According to the brief synopsis on the back of the Belmont Town Bandstand note card, the bandstand's close proximity to the Mill and near the passenger depot of the Tilton and Belmont Railroad "placed the Bandstand at the industrial and commercial focal point at a time when the community had achieved its greatest economical prosperity."

An eight-pack of cards, with two of each of the four prints, is $10, while a four-pack is $6. Recipe cards are $4 for eight. Framed four-print pictures are $10 and two-print pictures are $6.

Cards may be purchased at Carignan Watch Company on Main Street in Belmont Village and will also be available at the Bandstand's centennial celebration in October. Anyone interested in learning more about the note and recipe cards, or the Belmont Historical Society, can visit www.historicalsocietiesnh.org/belmont.

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