This Week in Concord History

May 15, 1726: At Sugar Ball in East Concord, Enoch Coffin, a Congregationalist minister, preaches at the first Christian service in the future Concord. His congregation is a group of men who have come from Massachusetts Bay Colony to survey the Plantation of Penny Cook.

May 15, 1727: A Congregational church, Concord’s first, is ready for occupancy. It is a 40-by-25-foot log structure at North Main and Chapel streets. The logs are thick enough to be bullet-proof, and the church, though windowless, has port-holes through which to shoot Indians.

May 15, 1908: Unable to keep up with the Concord City Auditorium for live shows, manager Ben White of White’s Opera House begins showing continuous motion pictures and illustrated songs every day but Sunday. Admission is a dime for adults a nickel for children. The songs are by Fred Rushlow. This venture will prove an immense success.

May 15, 1983: Auditions for an amateur production of Annie draw 23 little girls to Concord’s Phenix Theatre. “You need not be afraid. None of us can sing so whatever you can do will be fine,” says producer Norman Leger.

May 17, 1851: For a second time, Concord voters refuse to turn their town into a city. The vote is 582 against and 139 in favor. Two years later, they will change their minds.

May 17, 1983: Sculptor Dimitri Gerakaris oversees the installation of the steel arch at the entrance to Eagle Square. It is not an instant hit. “It looks like someone’s nightmare that hasn’t been completed,” says one passerby. “It’s art, Arthur,” corrects his wife.

May 17, 1995: Concord Police Chief David Walchak calls on Gov. Steve Merrill to veto the Legislature’s decision to join the multi-state lottery Powerball. “We’re disappointed in the Legislature for passing it,” says Walchak, a leading member of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, “and we’re disappointed with anybody who permits the expansion of gambling in New Hampshire.”

May 17, 2003: Speaking at the graduation ceremony for Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry urges the 206 graduates that it is their responsibility to practice law in a way that would halt the growing suspicion of the profession. “This law degree, particularly from Franklin Pierce Law Center, doesn’t give you the privilege of standing apart from our society, just taking care of your self,” Kerry says. “It demands that you give meaning to the word citizen.”

May 18, 1860: In Concord, a 100-gun salute is fired in response to news that the Republicans have nominated Abraham Lincoln. “They were very feeble reports, the caliber of the guns corresponding with that of the candidates,” reports the city’s Democratic newspaper, the New Hampshire Patriot.

May 18, 1861: As Concord residents throng “on either side of the column with cheers and huzzas” on a Saturday afternoon, the First New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Regiment parades through the streets. It will leave for the front in a week.

May 18, 1977: Three men escape from the state prison by sawing through the kitchen roof. They join two killers on the lam, bringing to five the number of prisoners who have escaped from maximum security in the last five days. Three of the five are murderers. The warden declines to talk to reporters.

May 18, 2001: The Concord School District has been named one of the top 100 places in the country to get a quality music education, the Monitor reports. The survey was conducted by the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, Yamaha Corp., the National School Boards Association, the Music Teachers National Association and the American Music Conference.

May 19, 1944: Mrs. Charles A. Morin of Monroe Street in Concord hopes a new postal policy aimed at improving communication with prisoners-of-war in Germany will bring word from her son. Lt. Antoine Robert Morin, a pilot, was shot down in February, and his mother received this note, dated Feb. 28: “Dear Folks: Am prisoner of war in Germany. Well and safe. No need for worry. Will write as often as possible. We’ll be together after victory. Will see you all in six months. Bob.” Mrs. Walker has not heard from her son since.

May 19, 1989: In a Monitor poll, half the state’s lawmakers say they oppose a broad-based sales or income tax, but 59 percent say one is likely in the next 10 years.

May 20, 1927: Filing his nationally syndicated column from Concord, humorist Will Rogers writes: “No attempts at jokes today. A slim, tall, bashful, smiling American boy is somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, where no lone human being has ever ventured before. He is being prayed for to every kind of Supreme Being that has a following. If he is lost it will be the most universally regretted loss we ever had.” The next day, that American boy, Charles A. Lindbergh, will land the Spirit of St. Louis in Paris.

May 20, 1983: A crowd of women gather at a public hearing in Concord to describe the sorrows of alimony, child support and high legal fees as the state contemplates reforms to divorce laws. “We have to start with the girls and tell them this business about living happily ever after – that is a fantasy. It’s a fairy tale. They must face the world knowing they’re responsible for their own support,” says Susan Caldwell, head of the state Commission on the Status of Women.

May 20, 1994: A two-alarm fire in the cellar of The Suitcase Shop on North Main Street burns a stockroom with inventory and smokes up neighboring stores, particularly Vanderbilt’s Delicatessen. “The smoke was thick enough inside that building that you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face,” says Battalion Chief Chris Pope.

May 21, 2002: Police officers and rescue workers swarmed the State House, shutting down a section of North Main Street and its side streets so bomb experts could examine what a mask-wearing man had left in a FedEx box, the Monitor reports. The answer, they discovered after quarantining the area for about two hours, was an 8½-by-11-inch FedEx envelope, no explosives included.

Author: Insider Staff

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