This week in Concord history


Dec. 31, 1999: Despite a bomb threat, First Night celebrations wrap up without incident. Enthusiasm, however, is hard to find. “It doesn’t feel like New Year’s Eve,” one would-be Concord reveler laments. “There’s not a lot going on,” another adds. “And with no snow, it’s even worse.”


Dec. 31, 1866: Fire burns the roof and destroys machinery at the Penacook Mill. Though it is so cold that the firemen’s clothing freezes, a horse-drawn steam fire engine speeds at 30 mph from Concord and saves much of the mill building. The mill’s 250 employees are thus out of work only briefly.


Dec. 31, 1844: Town hall figures show that there were 113 deaths in Concord in 1844. Fifty of the dead were children under 10.


Jan. 1, 2002: The town of Hopkinton instates a new department rule forcing firefighters to retire at the age of 70, but will allow them to serve in a diminished capacity, from directing fire trucks arriving from other towns to manning the radios. Rather than accept “inactive duty” as a firefighter, Dick Gourley, 72 years old and a 20-year veteran with the department, resigned.


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. 1, 1871: Birthdate of Dr. Henry L. Stickney, one of the state’s leading doctors in his day. “The first automobile owned in the state was owned and operated by him, but after serving an apprenticeship with three, he concluded that he was not earning money fast enough to keep them in repair and finally gave them up entirely and returned to horses, man’s best friend,” reports the New Hampshire Patriot.


Jan. 1, 1925: The Granite Monthly magazine reports: “Mah Jongg has had its day and has gone to the happy hunting ground, or wherever games go when people get tired of them, and the crossword puzzle reigns supreme in the homes of rich and poor alike.”

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. 2, 2000: Bill Bradley uses a campaign appearance in Concord to stress the positive tone of his campaign. “I don’t want (people) to vote against Al Gore,” he tells those gathered at the Elks Club, “I want them to vote for Bill Bradley.”


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


Jan. 2, 1942: The state encourages women to go to work in factories to replace men who have joined the armed forces. Walter M. May, deputy state education commissioner, says he will throw the state’s 13 defense schools open to women at once so that they can learn mechanical skills. To now, women have tried in vain to gain admittance to such classes.


Jan. 2, 1788: At Concord’s town meeting, townspeople commission Timothy Walker Jr. to lobby the Legislature and neighboring towns for the creation of a new county.


Jan. 2, 1824: After a 36-year fight during which Hopkinton vied with Concord to become the seat of a county that was to be called Kearsarge, the first Merrimack County courthouse opens on its current site.


Jan. 3, 2002: Four years after it razed the state’s school funding system in its landmark Claremont decision, the state Supreme Court debates whether to re-enter the education fray or close the case for good. Lead plaintiff lawyer Andru Volinsky argues the state’s minimum school standards are neither specific, mandatory nor enforceable. Attorney General Philip McLaughlin counters that the court should put Claremont to bed and leave policymaking to the Legislature.


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. 3, 1870: An aurora borealis appears. At 4 a.m., “the northern portion of the sky was nearly all aflame,” a patriotic observer writes. Directly overhead, “Streamers of red, white and blue were seen streaking up from the horizon.”


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. 4, 2001: Elizabeth McLaughlin, a 101-year-old resident of Concord’s Havenwood-Heritage Heights Retirement Community, gets some extra attention for a day after being invited to the governor’s inaugural address at the State House. “It (was) a day I never expected,” McLaughlin says later. “I’m not an important girl at all.”




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


Jan. 6, 2003: Several Penacook residents ask the city to save their beloved, but most likely doomed, Rolfe barn: They ask the city to seize it through eminent domain. The request is made in a petition filed just minutes before city hall closes. After months of battles between history buffs and property developers, the Penacook Historical Society will own the barn.


January 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.

Author: Insider Staff

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