This week in Concord history

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Dec. 25, 1820: Episcopalians hold Concord’s first Christmas celebration 93 years after the town was settled. Because Concord was settled by Massachusetts Congregationalists, the holiday was previously banned.
 
Dec. 26, 1856: A fire reduces Concord’s Phenix Hotel to ashes. It will rise again on the same spot.
 
Dec. 26, 1900: The police foil a murder for hire in Concord. The hit man turns in the woman who offered him $10, her rings and a pair of opera glasses to kill her estranged husband. The woman, 26-year-old Carrie Sinclair Huntoon, is a Concord belle who can trace her ancestry to the Pilgrims. She will be found insane and committed to the asylum.
 
Dec. 26, 1987: A Monitor poll of city councilors gives Liz Hager the edge in a three-way vote for mayor of Concord. She will eventually defeat Jim MacKay – with the help of candidate Bob Washburn – becoming the city’s first woman mayor.
 
Dec. 26, 1999: Proclaiming that “the cause of gay rights, like women’s rights, is a just one,” a Monitor editorial predicts: “Eventually, when it has led to its logical conclusion, the wonder will be why it took so long to get there.” A week earlier, the Vermont Supreme Court set off a furor with its ruling that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same legal standing as married people.
 
Dec. 27, 1975: The New York Times reports that more than half the cells at the New Hampshire state prison in Concord are damaged beyond use by inmates angered over the refusal of officials to release a dozen prisoners from solitary confinement for their Christmas meal. Three people are injured in the four-hour disturbance and about 100 inmates are transferred to new locations.
 
Dec. 27, 2001: When it opened in 1967, Havenwood-Heritage Heights was one of the first modern retirement communities in the state. But times have continued to change, and now the center is planning a $40 million expansion so it can change along with them, the Monitor reports.
 
Dec. 28, 1835: William Chandler is born in Concord. He will go on to become a U.S. senator and secretary of the Navy. He will found the Rumford Press and revitalize a struggling Monitor.
 
Dec. 28, 1978: State and Concord police officers arrest 28 people in the largest drug bust in city history. Thirty-one people are eventually charged, but the Merrimack County attorney will eventually drop all charges. The chief reasons: a lack of cooperation between the police and prosecutors and flaws in a diary recording the work of an undercover agent.
 
Dec. 28, 2001: The Olympic torch comes to Concord on its way to Salt Lake City and makes a quick stop at the State House for a 15-minute ceremony. Former Olympians, Concord student athletes and what seems like thousands of people come out to see the flame.
 
Dec. 29, 1905: The Monitor reports on the opening of the New England Telephone and Telegraph exchange, a two-story building at School and Green streets. On the upper floor are two pay phones staffed by attendants. Female operators at the switchboard, regularly asking, “Number, please,” make connections for callers. Beginning with 1,688 subscribers, the building will provide phone service for half a century.
 
Dec. 29, 1933: The low temperature in Concord is 21 below zero. That’s what it was yesterday. And that’s what it will be again tomorrow.
Dec. 30, 1869: A Grant Club is organized in Concord. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant is “the people’s general, and will be the people’s president,” the Monitor asserts.
 
Dec. 30, 1926: Allen and Amoret Hollis deed Concord the land for “a playground and athletic facility for the citizens of the city of Concord.” They also donate a plaque for what will be known as Memorial Field, in honor of the city’s dead from the late World War. Among those who died during the war were the Hollis’s son, Allen Jr., and nephew, Henry Hollis Jr.
 
Dec. 31, 1869: A group of young men from Concord gathers to greet the New Year. “One raised his glass and pledged upon his honor as a man, that not a single drop of intoxicating liquor should pass his lips in 1870.” Impressed, another poured the party’s whiskey down the drain. The Monitor approved, reporting: “These men have made a good beginning for 1870.”

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