This Week in Concord History

April 11, 1793: A tragedy called The Revenge plays at the Town House, on the current site of the Merrimack County Courthouse. It is the first play to be staged in Concord. The city’s Mirrour called it “a virtuous, sentimental and rational amusement to the respectable inhabitants of the town.”


April 11, 1984: Fire ravages the 125-year-old St. Paul’s church in Concord, leaving only the walls, bell tower and half the roof intact. Firefighters have to smash a century-old stained glass window to ventilate the building and the floor beneath the altar collapses.


April 11, 2003: The New Hampshire Supreme Court upholds a 2001 Concord Planning Board decision that told the Richmond Co. it couldn’t build a shopping center in the old railroad yards near the South End marsh. The decision rewards the South End residents who have spent nearly three years fighting the project and reinforces the authority of planning boards.


April 12, 1827: On Fast Day, Rev. Nathaniel Bouton, 27, delivers the first temperance sermon in Concord. Bouton’s words at the Old North Church ignite local participation in a social movement that will last more than a century. Bouton asserts in his sermon that he has investigated and found that “the use of ardent spirits in Concord” is “universal.” He claims that the 1,400 men in Concord consumed nearly 14,000 gallons of liquor in 1825. The Concord Temperance Society will be formed three years later. By 1843, nearly half of the city’s adult residents will have signed a prohibition pledge.


April 12, 1861: On a gray, drizzly morning in Concord, the telegraph at the Eagle Hotel brings news of the attack on Fort Sumter.


April 12, 1917: Six days after the United States declares war on the Axis powers, the Legislature passes a law prohibiting walkouts, strikes and lockouts in New Hampshire industries that produce war materiel. A state Committee of Public Safety is established to report any union or other radical activity to federal agents based in Concord.


April 13, 1945: Responding to the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt the previous night in Warm Springs, Ga., John G. Winant of Concord, the U.S. Ambassador to England, says: “The greatest American of our age is dead.”


April 13, 2003: A fire breaks out in an apartment building off East Side Drive in Concord, attracting the attention of Kyle Bissonnette, 12, Matthew Peters, 12, and Nate Bell, 10. Seeing flames shooting from a downstairs window in the Regency Estates apartment building, the three pull their bikes over and flag down a passer-by, who calls the police. Kyle and Matthew head into the building and start knocking on doors, making sure everyone is out and rousing residents who don’t hear the smoke alarms. Nate waits outside to make sure his friends come out okay. One apartment is destroyed in the blaze. Nobody is injured.


April 14, 1865: At 5 p.m., Congressman Edward Rollins, a Concord Republican, stops by the White House to seek a pass for a constituent to visit his wounded son in an army hospital. President Abraham Lincoln comes downstairs to oblige Rollins, writing a note to the secretary of war. It is the last official business Lincoln will conduct before going to dinner and the theater – and possibly the last time he will sign his name. After Lincoln is assassinated at Ford’s Theatre, Rollins keeps the dated, signed note.


April 14, 1945: In response to Gov. Charles Dale’s call for a day of mourning for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Monitor does not publish and all businesses close.


April 14, 1993: The Concord Fire Department, generally in the business of extinguishing fires, starts one: Environmentalists hope a controlled burn on 10 acres of grass at the Concord Municipal Airport will improve conditions for the endangered Karner Blue butterfly.


April 15, 1861: Three days after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the first call for troops reaches Concord by telegraph from Washington, D.C., at 8 a.m. Friends rush across to the Phenix Hotel to awaken Edward Sturtevant, a popular police officer and former printer. Sturtevant rushes to the State House and, fulfilling his fondest wish, becomes New Hampshire’s first Civil War volunteer.


April 15, 1865: At 2 a.m., the telegraph at the Eagle Hotel brings news that President Abraham Lincoln has been shot. At 7:22 a.m., Lincoln dies in Washington. Word spreads quickly in Concord, and crowds gather in the streets. At 9 p.m., many drift to former president Franklin Pierce’s mansard-roofed home on Main Street near Thorndike Street. A lantern illuminating his face, Pierce expresses his “profound sorrow and regret,” telling the crowd: “My best wishes to you all and for what we ought to hold most dear – our country – our whole country.”


April 16, 1965: After a major organizing and fundraising effort by, among others, Dudley Orr, Russell Martin, Malcolm McLane and figure-skating Police Chief Walter Carlson, construction begins on the ice hockey rink that will become the Everett Arena.


April 16, 1967: The governor and Executive Council approve the state’s acquisition of 224.5 acres of marshland off Hoit Road in East Concord for a fish and wildlife preserve.


April 17, 1882: President Chester Arthur appoints William E. Chandler, a prominent Republican politician, lawyer and journalist from Concord, secretary of the navy.


April 17, 1885: Thomas Samon, who killed a woman in Laconia, stuffed her body in a trunk and wheeled it away, is the first man executed at the new state prison.


April 17, 1945: Endorsing Concord Mayor Charles McKee’s request, the ministers’ council agrees that all church bells will toll at the hour of victory in Europe. The council’s president, the aptly named Rev. Ernest Shepherd, makes the announcement.


April 17, 1971: Two months after his trip to the moon, it is Alan Shepard Day in New Hampshire. The astronaut, originally from Derry, shares in a $5-a-plate lunch of ham in pineapple sauce at the Concord Country Club. He has no plans to enter politics. “I’m a pilot and an engineer, and I think I’ll stick to what I know about,” he says. Of the moon, he says: “It’s desolate, it’s quiet, it’s stark. . . . There are no birch trees up there.”


April 17, 2000: State prison inmates are paying particular attention to the crisis at the New Hampshire Supreme Court. One inmate says he has spoken to at least 20 others who are closely monitoring news of the court’s supposed wrongdoing, hopeful that an examination of court practices will help set them free.


April 17, 2002: Concord sets a temperature record for the second day in a row. Yesterday it was 88 degrees. Today it’s 94!


April 17, 2002: Three New England Patriots and team owner Bob Kraft attend a rally at the State House in Concord to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl win. Players David Patten, Antowain Smith and Richard Seymour sign footballs for fans. “We were red, white and blue,” Kraft said. “We were the Patriots. We were underdogs. But most of all, we were winners.”

Author: Insider Staff

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