This week in Concord history

Jan. 1, 1819: The Phenix Hotel, built by Abel Hutchins, opens on Main Street in Concord as “a house of entertainment.”

Jan. 1, 1865: Lewis Downing Sr. retires from Abbot & Downing, his coach and wagon company.

Jan. 1, 2000: About 50 people from the state and the private sector huddle in an emergency operation center in Concord, ready to respond to whatever havoc the dreaded Y2K computer glitch may bring. To their relief, the rollover of the calendar passes without incident.

Jan. 2, 1784: The Legislature grants Concord official townhood.

Jan. 2, 1901: A cabal of legislators, lobbyists and B&M Railroad men begins meetings at the Eagle Hotel to elect a new U.S. senator. Seven days later they will get their wish when the Legislature votes to oust two-term Sen. William E. Chandler, a critic of powerful railroad interests, in favor of former part-time judge Henry Burnham. “The word went out,” the senator’s biographer wrote, “that Chandler had been run over by the railroad.” Direct election of U.S. senators is still 12 years away.

Jan. 3, 1952: The Concord City Council rejects plans for a $1.75 million jet fighter base for the National Guard at Concord Airport. Officials call the plan too disruptive for residents of the Heights.

Jan. 3, 2000: Concord Mayor Bill Veroneau opens his fifth term in office with a pledge to explore seriously the possibility of bringing a semi-professional baseball team to the city. Before the fall, the city will announce it has landed just such a franchise: the Concord Quarry Dogs, who will play their 2001 home games at Memorial Field.

Jan. 4, 1950: The temperature in Concord climbs to 68 degrees, making this the warmest January day of the 20th century.

Jan. 5, 1791: The Legislature gathers in Concord’s new “town house” near Main and Court streets. The Legislature still moves its meeting site from town to town but will often convene at the town house until the granite State House is finished in 1819.

Jan. 5, 1813: The first products from state prison industries go on the market: axes, made in the prison’s blacksmith shop, at 10 shillings or $1.50 by the dozen.

Jan. 5, 1973: A New Hampshire Hospital security guard is fired because his hair is too long to suit Concord Police Chief Walter Carlson. Guards must have Concord police authority to function. By summer, the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission will order the guard back to work.

Jan. 5, 1996: The early-morning low temperature in Concord is a brisk 18 below zero.

Jan. 6, 1853: A train derails and topples on the way to Concord, killing 11-year-old “Little Benny” Pierce. His father, the president-elect, and his mother are traveling with him but are unhurt. Jane Appleton Pierce is “completely distraught” and will never recover from the loss. After the funeral, the body will be carried down Main Street and Concord residents will pay their respects. Benny will be buried alongside his brother, who died at the age of 4 in 1843.

Jan. 6, 1942: The school board has decided that in the event of an air raid, Concord students will remain in school. Principals, teachers and janitors will be trained in air raid protection techniques.

Jan. 6, 1943: Twenty-one-year-old Richard B. Lynch, working on an expansion project at Concord Airport, is caught in the chains of a steam shovel owned by his father and crushed to death.

Jan. 7, 1942: Concord starts a three-day spell of bitterly cold weather with a low temperature of 15 below zero. The next day it’ll be 25 below, and the day after that, the temperature will fall to 22 below.

Ben Conant

Author: Ben Conant

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